ARGALUS AND PARTHENIA
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
A swain, seen in the company of his fellows, Clitophon and and Strephon, persistently flirting with the nymphs Aminta and Florida and the shepherdess Sapho. He later hints that he has fallen in love in all seriousness with a particular, but unnamed nymph. He objects to Strephon's verses in dispraise of women by protesting that Strephon loves for sport only, and not with his heart. He later accompanies the disguised Parthenia to her uncle's castle upon her return from Corinth. He brings the news of her return to his rustic companions, just after they have collectively made a stand against the misogyny of Clitophon, and persuaded him to a semblance of remorse for his offense. There is a further hint that Alexis's secret love is Aminta. As part of Sapho's plan to expose Strephon's vanity, Alexis and Aminta are paired off for a lovers' dance. Sapho then denounces Strephon to his great fury, but it remains unclear whether the match between the couple is truly made, as the conclusion of the rustic sub-plot is neglected.
A nymph, friend of Florida, Castalia and the shepherdess Sapho. The over-sexed swain Clitophon's frrst attempt to flirt with her leaves her skeptical and scornful of him. It seems that Alexis falls in love with her for real and they are later matched in a lovers' dance by Strephon. It remains unclear whether they are united, as she is last seen with Sapho and Florida, accompanying Parthenia to her fight with Amphialus. Aminta suggests that the maidens all choose to die with Parthenia and the swains are nowhere to be seen, but her suggestion is overruled by Sapho, who instead delivers a formal elegy upon the heroine.
A noble Lord, in love with his cousin, the princess Philoclea. He first appears after Argalus kills Demagoras in single combat to revenge the attack upon Parthenia, discussing the tragedy with the lord Philarchus. Amphialus identifies himself with Argalus, in that both are experiencing tragic frustrations in their pursuit of love. He himself has abducted and imprisoned his reluctant beloved and her sister in order to force the hand of their father the King. His romantic strategy will be doomed to failure, as she loves Pyrocles: at this stage, the King has proposed a single combat for the release of the princesses, to which Amphialus assents. He awaits the news of the King's choice of champion to face him. The King subsequently chooses Argalus as his champion to fight Amphialus. Man-to-man and attended by the noble Philarchus, the two champions agree honorably to protect each others' ladies, whichever of them survives the combat. They fight and Parthenia interrupts, horrified at the sight of her husband's blood: Argalus is mortally wounded and dies. Amphialus departs, hating himself for the deed. Later, Philarchus discusses his chances of success in winning the hand of Philoclea, given the King's grief over the imprisonment of his daughters and the death of Zelmane, but Amphialus is too wretched with grief over the death of Argalus to rally. Disguised in male armor, Parthenia challenges him to combat. She denounces his cowardice for first refusing, then provokes him by reviling Philoclea's beauty. They fight. Wounded, her angel-like hair is revealed and she dies calling Argalus's name. Amphialus departs in further grief, having killed both the play's hero, reluctantly, and its heroine, by accident.
Beloved of Parthenia. A true hero of courtly romance and a paragon of chivalrous lovers. His rival suitor, the violent bully Demagoras, derides him frequently as 'effeminate'. Other characters precede his first appearance by listing his many virtues and talents, not least his modesty, which slightly hampers the progress of his courtship of the equally worthy, but to him far-excelling Parthenia. He is not present at the pastoral entertainment originally planned for him by Sapho, but given for Demagoras, and is at first unaware that Demagoras has taken great offence at being satirized and has vowed revenge. He has Kalander's approval for pursuing his niece's hand and the support of the lord Philarchus, who teasingly encourages him to overcome his modesty. When Parthenia appears, cruelly disfigured by Demagoras's attack, Argalus is horrified and furious for her sake. He vows revenge and renews his proposal of marriage, to reassure her that he truly loves her for her mind and is not deterred from marriage by her ravished beauty. She firmly declines both revenge and marriage and leaves him to live out her life in a desert exile, still feeling unworthy of him in disfigurement. After her departure, he is warned by Demagoras's Servant of the impending attack on Kalander's castle. He challenges Demagoras to a duel to revenge Parthenia, stands firm against the villain's vicious defiance and kills him in single combat. His brave and patient endurance of her absence is described to Amphialus by Philarchus, allowing the latter to identify with his romantic cause, and emulate him in chivalry. Kalander fears, however, that Argalus is pining away with grief. He plans to take Argalus out hunting to cheer him up, but is forestalled by the return of Parthenia in disguise. Argalus knows her at once but is persuaded of her story: that Parthenia is dead, herself an identical twin sent as Parthenia's dying wish as her legacy to him, to be loved and married in Parthenia's place. Argalus delights her by refusing the offer, vowing his love and fidelity for the true Parthenia until they are reunited in death. She reveals herself and explains. Their reunion is blessed by Kalander. The wedding follows soon after, graced by verses by Sapho, singing and dancing, and the news that the King has chosen Argalus as the champion to fight Amphialus. Argalus is honoured by the decision, Parthenia afraid for his safety. He is honour-bound to show his valour and asks for her trust. She has a premonition of disaster despite his confidence, but gives him her blessing. Man-to-man and attended by the noble Philarchus, the two champions agree honourably to protect each others' ladies, whichever survives the combat. They fight and Parthenia interrupts, horrified at the sight of her husband's blood: Argalus is mortally wounded and dies. Amphialus departs, hating himself for the deed.
A nymph who principally appears as the chief singer in the play's several pastoral entertainments. Unlike the other nymphs, Aminta and Florida, and the shepherdess Sapho, she remains aloof from the wooing of the play's swains in comic scenes and her appearances signal her musical contributions to the action. Her song on Cupid and Venus at the pastoral entertainment given for Demagoras is derided as "too effeminate" by him.
Also called "Chrysaclea." Mother to Parthenia and sister to the lord Kalander. At first she insists on the merits of Demagoras as her daughter's suitor, at the same time failing to persuade him to woo more gently in order to compete with the preferred paragon, Argalus. She fails to calm the revengeful rage of Demagoras when he feels slighted by Parthenia, and reproaches her daughter for dismissing him. This causes a crisis of conscience between love and filial duty for Parthenia, resolved by the Queen's favor for Argalus, which makes him an acceptable husband after all. Still campaigning for Demagoras, she is appalled when the pastoral entertainment intended to welcome him backfires (intended for Argalus, it offends him) and she fails to calm his rage and desire for revenge. She later fails to take her brother's warning that Demagoras is dangerous, believing instead that he will peacefully take his leave. She does not reappear, either to witness her daughter's catastrophic assault by Demagoras, her triumphant return, cured, from exile, or even her wedding to Argalus.
An 'inconstant shepherd', which in practice means an incorrigible flirt and occasionally spiteful misogynist. Seen with his fellows Alexis and Strephon and in the company of the nymphs Aminta and Florida and the shepherdess Sapho. His first attempt to flirt with Aminta leaves her sceptical and scornful. His second attempt fares no better, giving Strephon the hope that she might prefer himself. Next he tries to flirt with Florida, who also snubs him. He persists in denouncing women generally, even when Alexis confides that he has fallen in love for real. After Strephon's latest verses in dispraise of women, he offers to cap them with his own, going further 'in hatred of them'. In their next scene, his companions, male and female, unite against his offensive misogyny. His latest verses have gone too far and they nag him into a semblance of remorse. In a brief scene after their pastoral performance for the wedding of Argalus and Parthenia, he is still grovelling to Sapho for his earlier behavior. He expresses his melancholy, to be fated to love all women indiscriminately. Strephon counters with vanity, feeling his fate is to be loved by all women irresistibly. Clitophon finally tries to flirt with Sapho, who also rejects him as too fickle to be taken seriously. He is matched with Sapho in a lovers' dance but does not reappear to make clear whether the match is permanent, or mutually desired.
Suitor to Parthenia, but unable to compete with the attractions of Argalus, whom he frequently slanders as "effeminate." He is a successful but arrogant general, rough-mannered and short-tempered, over-confident of his success in wooing. He ignores the tactful discouragement of the lord Philarchus, who accompanies him, and firmly believes that Parthenia's mother Chrysaclea will persuade her daughter to accept him. Welcomed formally to Arcadia by a full-scale pastoral entertainment, he is further provoked to rage when the interlude intended for Argalus (satirizing himself) is hastily staged for him. He stalks Parthenia, traps her and abuses her in his jealous rage: he is obsessed by the fact that, worse than her not loving him, she actually prefers the rival he so despises. He threatens her with worse than murder or rape, and drags her away. Offstage, he pours poison on her face and cruelly disfigures her, then flees. Next seen with his Servant, his revenge has not yet been sated with his personal attack on Parthenia: he has mustered forces to attack her uncle's castle and shed more blood to satisfy his rage. He ignores the Servant's warning not to proceed. His preparations are interrupted by Argalus, come to challenge him to single combat to avenge Parthenia. He is scornful, vicious and spectacularly misogynistic in his retorts. They fight. To his own surprise, he dies. His Servant returns to offer a cursory epitaph over his body.
A nymph, friend of Aminta, Castalia and the shepherdess Sapho. She brings the assembled nymphs and swains news that they are to welcome Demagoras with pastoral songs and entertainment, thereby introducing the first musical sequence in the play. When Clitophon has twice failed to impress Aminta with his flirting, he turns to Florida and is also snubbed her. Strephon later pairs off the other couples for a lovers' dance (Clitophon with Sapho, Alexis with Aminta) and it is unclear whether Florida is included as his partner or ignored by him. His final scene, after Sapho's denunciation, leaves him ranting with fury and cursing all women. Florida last appears with the other maidens, accompanying Parthenia to her final combat. Florida is distinguished by wearing mourning; perhaps for Strephon, whom she possibly really loved after all, and who is either dead or has rejected her. The sub-plot's details are inadequately concluded.
Uncle to Parthenia, brother to Chrysaclea, he is a rich lord whose castle is the setting for several scenes. He supports Argalus's suit for his niece and encourages him to set by his noble modesty and win her. He also offers to act as their go-between to further the romance and is the first to see the danger of Demagorus's rage against the happy couple. After Pan's Feast, a second entertainment performed by the nymphs and swains, Kalander is the first to notice Parthenia's absence and he goes to search for her. After her departure into self-imposed exile, he offers to cheer Argalus with hunting, to prevent him pining away with grief. Parthenia's return, miraculously cured, leads rapidly to the couple's marriage with his blessing. He attends the wedding celebrations but does not appear further.
KING OF ARCADIA
Only mentioned. Husband to the Queen and father of the imprisoned princesses, Philoclea and Philoclea's sister. His decision to select the newly-wed Argalus as his champion to fight for the release of the princesses leads directly to Argalus's death in combat with his daughters' captor, Amphialus. His continuing grief for their imprisonment, combined with the death of Zelmane, leads Philarchus to encourage the remorseful Amphialus that his strategy will yet succeed, but the discussion is interrupted by the entrance of Parthenia in arms, and nothing further is heard about this off-stage sub-plot. This character is based on Basilius, from Sydney's Arcadia, and Glapthorne's play assumes great familiarity with this work.
Beloved of Argalus, daughter of Chrysaclea and niece to the lord Kalander. Her romantic attachment to the chivalrous paragon Argalus is a foregone conclusion and she has no time for the rough wooing of rival suitor Demagoras. She sternly and boldly reproves the heavy-handed disrespect of Demagoras's approach to her and gives him no hope, despite her mother's preference for the general. Her rebuff outrages Demagoras, who vows revenge on her. She is torn between love and duty, and chooses respectful defiance of her mother's choice. The Queen's favor for Argalus makes her decision acceptable. She attends the subsequent pastoral entertainment given for Demagoras and witnesses his rage at being satirzed in an interlude originally planned for Argalus. Unaware that he is dangerous, she retires to play her lute and sing a plaintive song expressing her love for Argalus. Demagoras stalks her, traps her and abuses her. She is furious and eloquent in her defiance of him, showing no fear of murder but is disturbed at the threat of rape. She is dragged off to a threatened fate worse than either. Her absence at Pan's Feast is noticed by her uncle and her appearance, face ravaged by Demagoras's attack with poison, horrifies the assembled company, especially Argalus. She is ashamed and horrified by her cruel disfigurement. She names the villain and Argalus in fury vows revenge for her lost beauty. She now feels unworthy of Argalus and, wishing only for death, does not want anyone to risk his life in avenging her. She refuses Argalus's repeated proposal of marriage, insisting that she is unworthy, and departs to self-imposed exile. Her refuge is Corinth, where she is miraculously cured of her "leprosie" by the Queen there. She returns, initially in disguise (or veiled). Argalus knows her at once but is persuaded of her story: that Parthenia is dead, herself an identical twin sent as Parthenia's dying wish as her legacy to him, to be loved and married in Parthenia's place. Argalus delights her by refusing the offer, vowing his love and fidelity for the true Parthenia until they are reunited in death. She reveals herself and explains. Their reunion is blessed by her uncle, Kalander. The wedding follows soon after, graced by verses by Sapho, singing and dancing, and the news that the King has chosen Argalus as the champion to fight Amphialus. Argalus is honoured by the decision, Parthenia afraid for his safety. She has a premonition of disaster despite his confidence, but gives him her blessing. Man-to-man and attended by the noble Philarchus, the two champions agree honourably to protect each others'ladies whoever survives the combat. They fight and Parthenia interrupts, horrified at the sight of her husband's blood: Argalus is mortally wounded and dies. Amphialus departs, hating himself for the deed. Philarchus preaches patience but she is already filled with a deadly calm and plans her own martyrdom. Disguised in male armor and accompanied by Sapho, Aminta and Florida, she challenges Amphialus to combat. She denounces his cowardice for first refusing, then provokes him by reviling Philoclea's beauty. They fight. Wounded, her angel-like hair is revealed and she dies calling Argalus's name. Amphialus departs in further grief, and Sapho pronounces her elegy.
An Arcadian Lord first seen accompanying Parthenia's unwelcome suitor Demagoras. He fails in his tactful attempts to persuade Demagoras to proceed more chivalrously with his courtship. He joins with the lord Kalander in encouraging Argalus to woo Parthenia, praising him generously and teasing him into a better understanding of his merits. He is present at Parthenia's return from her cruel attack by Demagoras, and is the first to notice and express horror and pity for her disfigurement. He later accompanies Amphialus, discussing the attack and Argulus's noble patience at her departure. He then brings news of Amphialus's business, to Kalander and Argalus. Present at the reunion of Argalus and Parthenia, their wedding feast and the combat between the two champions, he counsels patience to Parthenia over the body of Argalus. His final conversation with Amphialus about the latter's chances of prevailing with the beleaguered King is interrupted by Parthenia's arrival in armor. He therefore witnesses the final combat and her death.
Only mentioned. Beloved of Pyrocles. With her sister, she has been abducted and imprisoned by the ardent Amphialus in order to force her father the King to agree to their marriage. The King chooses the newly-married Argalus to fight Amphialus in single combat for the release of the princesses, which leads to the tragic death of Argalus.
Only mentioned. Imprisoned with her by Amphialus in his unsuccessful plot to force King Basilius to agree to his marriage to Philoclea. This character is based on Pamela, from Sydney's Arcadia, and Glapthorne's play assumes great familiarity with this work.
Only mentioned. The true love of Philoclea and therefore the obstacle to Amphialus's amorous strategy to win her.
QUEEN OF ARCADIA
Only mentioned. Wife to the King and mother to the princesses Philoclea and Pamela, who are imprisoned by Amphialus. Her known favor for Argalus makes it possible for Parthenia to defy her mother's preference for her suitor Demagoras and invoke royal support in her choice of husband. This character is based on Gynecia, from Sydney's Arcadia, and Glapthorne's play assumes great familiarity with this work.
QUEEN OF CORINTH
Only mentioned. She miraculously cures Parthenia of her "leprous" disfigurement during her self-imposed exile from Arcadia, allowing the heroine to return to Argalus in disguise and test his love for her. This character is based on Helen, from Sydney's Arcadia, and Glapthorne's play assumes great familiarity with this work. In Sidney's Arcadia, Helen is in love with Amphialus, who here loves Philoclea, who loves Pyrocles...
A poetical Shepherdess, friend of the nymphs Aminta, Florida and Castalia. She is clearly the artistic literary talent in this Arcadia and is responsible for writing the songs and verses performed throughout the play. She introduces Aminta to the swain, Strephon, but expresses healthy contempt for his vulgar doggerel verses. When Florida brings news that the assembled rustics are to welcome Demagoras with a pastoral interlude, she complains that she has had no warning to prepare and must fall back on the entertainment she has devised for Argalus. As this satirizes Demagoras, the performance is a disaster and he redoubles his lust for revenge on Parthenia. In the second rustic scene, Sapho caps Strephon's verses and mocks him again, resulting in a flirtatious squabble between all the nymphs and swains, where all the girls snub all the boys. Although she and the other women are absent from the scene where Clitophon makes the most offensive verses against women, they learn of his offence. She is next seen, together with Aminta and Strephon, rounding on him for his misogyny, and persuading him to a semblance of remorse. Alexis brings news of Parthenia's return, her happy reunion with Argalus and their immediate plans to marry. Sapho is to write verses for the wedding and leads the ensuing celebrations. The verses are later discussed by the rustics as a great success, and Clitophon makes a point of continuing his grovelling apologies to her. Sapho next orchestrates a revenge on Strephon's vanity, hinting that she loves him and objects to his giving her to Clitophon. She denounces his arrogance and leaves him cursing all at "shee-furies." With the nymphs she accompanies Parthenia to her duel with Amphialus, witnesses her death and pronounces her elegy.
The Servant to Demagoras is unnamed. He provides an audience for Demagoras's plans to besiege Kalander's castle. He warns Demagoras against the attack but is ignored, then meets Argalus and warns him of the villain's plans. He returns briefly after Demagoras falls in single combat with Argalus to utter a brief, generic epitaph over his master's body.
A foolish swain, fellow to Alexis and Clitophon. His folly may be interpreted as the result of too much time under the influence of the cynical, sexist Clitophon, as Strephon himself is a talented (though tasteless) rhymer on all occasions. His vulgar verses celebrate his high opinion of himself and low opinion of women, and entertain his male companions. It seems clear that the verses of the shepherdess Sapho are meant to be superior to his; she mocks his vanity in their first scene together. In their second scene she caps his verses with her own, which leads to a general flirtatious squabble between the nymphs and swains, the girls all persisting in their mocking. Even after Alexis confides that he has fallen in love with a particular, but unnamed, nymph, Strephon makes more verses in praise of cynical promiscuity. He counters Alexis's challenge that he loves only for sport by proclaiming all women fair game. Later Clitophon expresses his melancholy, to be fated to love all women indiscriminately. Strephon counters with vanity, feeling his fate is to be loved by all women irresistably. Sapho orchestrates a revenge on Strephon's vanity, hinting that she loves him and objects to his giving her to Clitophon. Strephon pairs off the other couples for a lovers' dance (Clitophon with Sapho, Alexis with Aminta) and it is unclear whether Florida is included or rejected by him. Sapho denounces his arrogance and leaves him cursing all "shee-furies" and hinting at suicide. Florida last appears with the other maidens, accompanying Parthenia to her final combat. Florida is distinguished by wearing mourning;perhaps for Strephon, whom she possibly really loved after all, and who is possibly dead. As sub-plot, the details are sketchy.
Only mentioned, as part of the on-going complications of the greater romantic plot of Sidney's 'Arcadia'. Philarchus notes that her death, along with the continuing imprisonment of his daughters, is causing the King such grief that he may relent and allow Amphialus the hand of Philoclea.