Henry Glapthorne


"George Chapman" on title page often discounted. "Henry Glapthorne" in Stationer's Register probably indicates the true playwright rather than a reviser.

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Eldest son of the Caliph, Almanzor, and the hero of the play. Loyal to his father, successful in arms, he is popular with his father's subjects. He is equally unsuspecting of both his younger brother's ambition and treachery and the disloyalty of his trusted eunuch, Mesithes. Abilqualit's downfall is his passion for Mura's wife, Caropia, who has chastely refused his brother's advances. Abilqualit is generally known to be in a desperate state of melancholy, but keeps the cause secret. He struggles with his moral dilemma and suffers greatly with his choice between the agony of unrequited love and the guilt of forcing dishonor on a married woman. Knowing himself weak, he commits himself to fulfilling his adulterous ambitions. In attempting to delegate his generalship to his brother, in order to stay behind while her husband goes to war, Abilqualit carelessly allows his motives to be misinterpreted as an attempt to usurp his father. He has confided his debilitating passion only to the old general, Tarifa, in order to explain that his intentions are not disloyal to his father. He is too distracted to take good advice from Tarifa, and decides that love is the highest law. His brother and father both wrongly suspect his motives, and he fails to persuade the Caliph to put the army in Abrahen's charge. He remains obedient to his father's decision, but is persuaded by his brother's exaggerated claims of the Caliph's dangerous suspicions. He successfully seduces Caropia, who loves him for both his beauty and power as general of the army and heir to Arabia. Their liaison is interrupted by the arrival of Caropia's husband. Abrahen warns him to escape in time to avoid discovery in flagrante delicto, but his plot to have Abilqualit accused of rape is successful. Tarifa is forced to arrest him. (Abilqualit's entrance to this scene, accompanied by 'protesting' Mutes, with hindsight suggests that he has foreseen problems and prepared his remedy.) At his trial, Abilqualit decides to preserve Caropia's honor by confessing the alleged rape. He secretly explains the reason for his suicidal gallantry to Tarifa but publicly persists in his false confession. Abrahen's news of the mutiny in Abilqualit's support convinces Almanzor to change his sentence to that of death by immediate strangulation by the Mutes. Abilqualit falls; his father dies of grief and his brother, proclaimed the new Caliph, indulges in a soliloquy revealing his previous and planned villainies beside their bodies. Abilqualit, not dead, thanks to his faked execution by loyal Mutes, hears everything, and plans revenge on his brother. His only regret is that Tarifa has besmirched Caropia's honor in his attempt to exculpate him. By the time he reveals his survival and intentions to his friend Selinthus and loyal Captains, Gaselles and Osman, Caropia has decided to kill her husband in revenge for Abilqualit's presumed death. She also plans to kill Abrahen and die a martyr to their brief love. She is in turn seduced by Abrahen's words and power; when Abilqualit confronts his brother, she is held hostage and Abrahen proposes a duel for both the empire and her hand, to which Abilqualit chivalrously agrees. He hopes to make his brother repent his actions, but Abrahen stabs Caropia and commits suicide, leaving her in turn to stab Abilqualit with the knife originally intended for Abrahen's murder. She protests she prefers to kill him than die and leave him to take another love. Dying as the new Caliph, Abilqualit makes wise and just dispositions: his Empire is left to Tarifa, Caropia is to buried with her husband, himself with his father–and his brother is to be denied an honorable grave. He decrees justice against the treacherous Simanthes and Mesithes, and a reward for the faithful Selinthus. He accepts his death at Caropia's hands as justice, despite her consent, for ruining her honor.


Son to Almanzor by a second wife and younger brother to Abilqualit. In the past he pursued the love of Mura's wife, Caropia, who rejected his advances. His public face is innocent, loyal and deferential. He commands great powers of persuasion and plausibility. Ambitious for the throne, he is cunning, ruthless and has powerful allies in his treacherous plots against his father and brother. He secretly commands the loyalty of the influential lords, Mura and Simanthes, and his brother's eunuch, Mesithes. He is suspicious of his brother's motives for offering to delegate the generalship of the new war to him, wrongly imputing political subterfuge to him. He is determined to supplant him as their father's heir. With the aid of his allies, he poisons their father's mind against Abilqualit and exploits his brother's relationship with Caropia to incense her husband's jealousy. He gloats at his brother's frustration when the Caliph refuses to reconsider the generalship. He tries to lead Abilqualit into disloyal utterances, but is reprimanded for his lack of filial piety. He exaggerates their father's suspicions and lies about himself being forced to spy on his brother. Abrahen learns from Selinthus that his brother's melancholy results from frustrated love of Caropia, and makes further trouble by informing her husband. He then anticipates Mura's return to catch the couple in flagrante delicto by warning Abilqualit; then persuades Caropia to preserve her honor by claiming a rape. He is secretly jealous that his brother succeeded in seducing the lady where he himself had failed, but protests his friendship. He persuades her to kill her husband and become his own empress after Abilqualit is executed for the alleged rape. Abrahen then advises Mura to take full revenge for his wife's rape. Seeming to support his brother in adversity, he encourages the soldiers' mutiny, which ultimately provokes the Caliph's severity and his brother's apparent execution. By the time of the trial, Abrahen has acquired from Simanthes a poisoned handkerchief, with which he originally intends to murder his father. When his father dies of natural grief at his older son's apparent death, Abrahen keeps the handkerchief for future use, and is acclaimed the new Caliph. He incautiously gloats at length over the bodies of his father and brother, not knowing that the latter still lives and listens to every word of his villainy. He is also unaware that Caropia plans to kill him in revenge for her honor and for the death of Abilqualit. Exulting in his new power, he is interrupted by the voluntary arrival of the lady. He welcomes her, flatters her and ultimately offers her marriage, which she accepts. The return of Abilqualit, still alive, interrupts their kiss: Abrahen holds her hostage and proposes to fight a duel for her, and the empire, which his brother accepts. Before they can fight, Abrahen stabs Caropia in defiance and kills himself with the poisoned handkerchief.


Caliph of Arabia and father to Abilqualit and Abrahen by different wives. He is a severe but noble ruler, planning wars on Persia to extend his empire. He intends the army to be led by his loyal, experienced and popular heir, Abilqualit. Abilqualit, secretly planning to seduce Caropia, tries to persuade his father to place the army in the charge of his younger brother. Abrahen's co-conspirators, Mura and Simanthes, persuade Almanzor that his heir's popularity and reluctance to depart conceal a threat to his authority. He is made to doubt his son's duty and gratitude, and agrees to have Abilqualit spied on. He remains ignorant of the treachery of his other son and his advisors. Almanzor presides over Abilqualit trial on the charge of rape, constantly intending to mete out impartial justice to his own son, knowing that his sentence of blinding will also disqualify Abilqualit from the succession. Almanzor is an inexorable judge, believing his son's false confession and refusing to offer clemency at Tarifa's protest that a prince should be above the law. He refuses to believe Abilqualit a coward, and judges that his son could not in fact dishonor a woman. He gives the judgement of blinding but the sentence is interrupted by Abrahen's contrived mutiny in Abilqualit's favor. He changes the sentence to immediate strangling. Almanzor's grief over his son's body causes him to collapse and die without ever knowing that Abrahen would otherwise have poisoned him to take his throne or that the strangulation was staged and his elder son lives.


Wife to Mura, first beloved of Abrahen, then of Abilqualit. She is unhappily married against her will to the gruff, old soldier, and is a melancholy and fatalistic heroine. Before the play begins, she has rejected the advances of Abrahen. Her beauty now tempts Abilqualit, who successfully seduces her. Her honor risks compromise by her husband's discovery of her adultery. She is treacherously advised by Abrahen to claim she was raped. This leads to the trial and apparent execution of Abilqualit. She decides to be revenged on both her husband and Abrahen. She kills Mura, but her attempt on Abrahen, now proclaimed Caliph, is frustrated by his persuasive offer to make her his empress. She agrees to marry him just before Abilqualit returns, still alive. She is stabbed by Abrahen and refuses Abilqualit's offer of a surgeon; she confesses her revenge on Mura and stabs Abilqualit with the knife she originally intended for his brother. In her dying words she explains that she wanted to be Abilqualit's empress and has killed him to prevent him taking another wife after her death.


A Captain to Tarifa, kinsman to Selinthus and Osman. He is a brusque soldier, dedicated to the military life in the service of the Caliph. With his cousins and other soldiers, he celebrates their planned campaign to Persia with drink and singing. When they are interrupted with news of the arrest of their new general, Abilqualit, he agrees to save him. With other soldiers, he accompanies Osman to Mura's home, just after Caropia has killed her husband. Tarifa arrives in time to save her from reprisals. Abilqualit soon reveals his survival to the three kinsmen and enlists their support against his brother's usurpation. It is not clear from stage directions whether the soldiers loyal to Abilqualit accompany him into the throne-room for the final showdown, but their presence as silent witnesses may be inferred.


A court Eunuch. An attendant to Abilqualit, but secretly loyal to Abrahen. Abrahen names him as a conspirator long before his first entrance; when he appears, in conversation with the loyal but garrulous Selinthus, the audience already knows he cannot be trusted. He endures teasing by both Selinthus and Caropia's maid, Perlinda, but says little to reveal the cause of his treachery to his master. Abrahen exploits his status as a loyal servant, in his lie to Caropia that Abilqualit's father has approved the rape alibi for her honor without risk to the prince. Believing Mesithes to be the messenger, Caropia acquiesces. He acts as messenger between Abrahen and the evil Simanthes instead. He is not seen to play any significant part in Abrahen's plotting beyond this, but is last mentioned by the dying Abilqualit as one of the guilty left to punishment by Tarifa.


The Governor of the Moroccos: a rough Lord. A soldier, kinsman by his mother to Abrahen and husband to Caropia; he is loyal to the treachery of his kinsman Abrahen and a severe husband to his reluctant wife. He assists Abrahen's plots by poisoning the mind of the Caliph against his older son and heir. As a long-standing servant of the state, and newly-appointed Lieutenant General of the army, known for his severity, his eloquence is the more persuasive and succeeds in disturbing the Caliph's confidence in his son. Abrahen accuses Mura of being the chief spy sent to watch Abilqualit, but this is merely a plausible lie. Abrahen has Mura informed of Abilqualit's attempt on Caropia's honor; he arrives in her chamber too late to catch the adulterous couple in flagrante delicto but, as an outraged husband, is quick to presume her guilt. He is eventually persuaded that his wife is innocent of adultery, but the victim of rape. His first reaction is to demand justice for the crime, even against a prince; he also considers that the affront to his honor is heaven's punishment for having plotted against Abilqualit previously. Abrahen finally persuades him that the rape will serve their political purposes in speeding Abilqualit's displacement as heir. He is now committed to pursuing justice against the alleged rapist. At the trial, he stands against Tarifa's plea for clemency. After the trial and the presumed death of Abilqualit, soldiers pursue Mura for revenge. Before they arrive to kill him, Mura gives a cruel and dishonest report of the trial to Caropia, who proclaims her true love for Abilqualit and stabs him to death.


Servants at the Arabian court, and official executioners. They are secretly loyal to Abilqualit. Before Tarifa can tell Abilqualit of his arrest for rape, the Mutes are seen briefly in conference with him, mysteriously 'whispering' and protesting. With hindsight, the audience learns that the Mutes agreed to fake Abilqualit's execution, which was changed from blinding to strangling at short notice. The audience may also infer from the Mutes' earlier appearance that Abilqualit's political foresight in enlisting their co-operation is more astute in dumb-show-action than explicitly demonstrated in the text.


A Captain to Tarifa, kinsman to Selinthus and Gaselles. Like his cousin Gaselles, he is a career soldier and is more outspoken in his contempt for the corruption of court and city life, preferring active military service for the Caliph. With Gaselles, he accepts Selinthus's invitation to a party in celebration of their new campaign against Persia. The drinking and singing is interrupted with the news of Abilqualit's arrest; Osman is committed to saving his newly appointed general from the threat of blinding. With other soldiers, he pursues Mura for revenge for Abilqualit's presumed death, arriving just after Caropia has killed him herself. Osman plans to kill her too for her part in defaming the prince's reputation, but he is prevented by the arrival of Tarifa. Abilqualit soon reveals his survival to the three kinsmen and enlists their support against his brother's usurpation. It is not clear from stage directions whether the Captains loyal to Abilqualit accompany him into the throne-room for the final showdown, but their presence as silent witnesses may be inferred.


Caropia's maid. A loyal maid and indulgent chaperone, who happily sits by as Abilqualit woos her married mistress, chatting bawdily to his treacherous Eunuch, Mesithes. Although present again at the sequel, when Abrahen treacherously advises Caropia to claim a rape when her husband confronts her, Perlinda remains in the background, offering very little by way of comfort to her mistress, and no particular advice worth mentioning. She joins Caropia in grieving for Abilqualit's presumed death and echoes her mistress's fatalistic mood. She is not listed in stage directions as accompanying Caropia to her final showdown with Abrahen, but her silent presence would be decorous as well as typical.


An honest, merry court Lord, kinsman to the Captains, Gaselles and Osman. In comparison to his brusque cousins, Selinthus is urbane and satirical, preferring court life, with its luxuries, flirtations and gossip, to military service. He is loyal to Abilqualit, concerned over the prince's melancholy but facetious in his comments on it. He is indifferent to the irritation his flippant manner provokes in the stern Mura, giving a long, witty lecture on hypochondria to tease the truth from Abilqualit, but without gaining any insight from the prince. He later chats with the treacherous Mesithes, making plain his opinion that eunuchs are 'pimps royal', although by his own standards this may be high praise. The Caliph's sudden order for the army to depart for Persia, and Abilqualit's reluctance to be made its new general suggests to Selinthus the true cause of the prince's unhappiness: his passion for Caropia. Selinthus, unaware of Abrahen's disloyalty, mentions this to the younger prince, who grasps at the idea of telling Mura of his wife's likely adultery. Selinthus invites his cousins, Gaselles and Osman, to a party to celebrate the campaign. It is unclear from the text who sings the drinking songs mentioned in stage directions, but Selinthus is likely to be the chief merry-maker. Their celebrations are interrupted by news of the arrest of Abilqualit. Selinthus is next seen after the supposed death of Abilqualit, the death of the Caliph and acclamation of Abrahen. He brings the urgent news that soldiers are pursuing Mura for revenge. He does not name his cousins, who, in fact, are leading the reprisal. With his cousins, Abilqualit later trusts him with the secret of his survival and planned revenge on his brother. He is sent to inform Tarifa of developments. Although not further mentioned in stage directions, it is likely that he accompanies Abilqualit, with his loyal cousins, to the final showdown: the orders given by the dying Abilqualit, as Caliph, include instructions for a promotion to reward Selinthus for his loyal service.


A court Lord, allied to Abrahen. He is the most machiavellian of Abrahen's evil conspirators, described as the court Hermes for his delight in plots and plotting. With Mura, he conspires to poison the Caliph's mind against Abrahen's elder brother, Abilqualit. Simanthes provides for Abrahen the poisoned handkerchief intended to kill the Caliph, but which is not needed when the ruler dies of natural grief. The handkerchief is later used by Abrahen to commit suicide. Abilqualit, feigning death, learns of Simanthes's complicity from his brother's gloating soliloquy. Later, dying, Abilqualit names Simanthes, together with the eunuch, Mesithes, as due for punishment for their treason.


An old General, Conqueror of Spain, former tutor to Abilqualit. A valiant and successful soldier, described as a Hector by Selinthus. He is reported as melancholy at the start of the play: he is both saddened to be now too old to lead the Caliph's army in a new war against Persia, and deeply worried by the melancholy of Prince Abilqualit, who is to be his successor as general. Abilqualit confides to Tarifa his desperate love for Caropia and his reluctance to lead the army. Tarifa cannot comprehend any cause greater than war and is horrified at Abilqualit's infatuation. His good advice goes unheeded and he fears for the prince's honor. After the alleged rape of Caropia, Tarifa, as High Marshall, must arrest Abilqualit. He first quarrels with the outraged husband, Mura, maintaining that the prince's high status, as heir to the empire, must exempt him from punishment. At the trial, although believing Abilqualit guilty, Tarifa pleads with the Caliph for clemency. He again argues that a prince should be above the law. Abilqualit himself reproaches Tarifa for partiality, and publicly maintains his false confession. Tarifa privately reveals to the Caliph Abilqualit's innocence (of rape) and Caropia's dishonor (of consenting to adultery). Again, Abilqualit publicly contradicts him. When the death sentence is seemingly carried out, Tarifa denounces the Caliph as a tyrant and continues to protest the prince's innocence. The two old men grieve together over the prince's body and the Caliph is persuaded by Tarifa to repent his harshness before he dies of grief. Abrahen, the new Caliph, sends Tarifa to quiet the soldiers' mutiny; he intervenes in time to save Caropia's life from reprisal killing by the captains loyal to Abilqualit. When Abilqualit confronts his evil brother, and Abrahen proposes a duel for both the empire and the hand of Caropia, Abilqualit first accepts the offered duel but Tarifa intervenes to object. He argues that the title is undoubtedly already due to Abilqualit and to risk it in a fight would be foolish and unjust. Events overtake the resolution of his argument and Abrahen kills Caropia and himself while Caropia stabs Abilqualit; with his dying words, Abilqualit bequeaths the empire to Tarifa, mentioning that he already has a son and heir, and seems likely to found a thriving new dynasty for Arabia.