Lewis Machin(?)


a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Also spelled Accutus. As Tully explains to Caesar, Acutus's name indicates that "vice to him is a foule eye-sore." From the beginning of the play, Acutus wants to reform the other characters. His first targets are the three dandies, Servulus, Scilicet, and Philautus. He calls them names and picks various fights with them, sometimes as himself and sometimes disguised as a lame soldier, a tapster, or one of his three other unspecified disguises. Scilicet, who emerges from the first beating vowing vengeance, is duped by Acutus into demonstrating that he is a coward. Later, he encourages Scilicet to wear an ass's head in the wedding masque in order to ridicule him in front of the Emperor and Getica. As for Philautus and Bos (servingman to Getica), Acutus encourages them to drink themselves into a sleepy stupor. Bos ends up naked in a barrel. Acutus and Graccus force him to debate on drunkenness before agreeing to provide him with clothes. Acutus gives Philautus a potion to make him appear dead. When Philautus awakes on the bier at his own funeral, Acutus declares that he is a devil. Other characters who are subject to Acutus's scrutiny include the Host, whom Acutus dresses in a goat's head, and Cornutus, whom Acutus dresses as a ram. Along with Scilicet, these men perform in the wedding masque, the moral of which is delivered by Acutus: the Host and Cornutus should not allow their wives to cuckold and reign over them; wives are to be submissive to their husbands.


Also spelled Boss. As manservant to Getica, Bos's chief responsibilities include speaking in mock blazons and caring for Getica's dog. He appears also to tend to Getica's sexual needs as well. Bos is at the inn when Acutus encourages Philautus to drink himself into a sleepy stupor. Bos also partakes, and he ends up naked in a barrel. Before they will give him a new suit of clothes, Acutus and Graccus force Bos to win a debate on drunkenness (a challenge that he seems to enjoy thoroughly).


Possibly a mistake for Bos. Boy appears in only one scene, early in the play, in which he accompanies the three dandies: Philautus, Scilicet, and Servulus. Boy is full of witty retorts and playful critique of his superiors. When Philautus worries that he's losing his hair, for instance, Boy says that although it's getting thin, Philautus still has more hair than wit; an assessment that the vain Philautus finds quite reassuring. Indeed, given that Bos's discourse is so similar to the Boy's and neither appears onstage at the same time, it is not impossible that "Boy" is a printer's error and that Bos and the Boy are, in fact, the same character.


The Emperor attends the double wedding of Lentulus and Flavia, and Terentia and Tully. His gift to the couples is to release all of the prisoners (except the traitors) in honor of their nuptials. Acutus takes him up on the offer by presenting Philautus, imprisoned for robbery. Caesar calls for Philautus to sing for him, but one bar is all Caesar can abide: he immediately orders Philautus's release. Because of the appearance of Cicero in this play, Caesar is probably meant to indicate Julius. However, the facts militate in favor of viewing this as a fantasy Rome: Caesar is called emperor (he was dictator), the main action deals with Cicero's wooing of Terentia (his first wife) on behalf of his friend Lentulus, and a Friar appears (before the birth of Christ).


The two Constables appear in IV.i, in which they search for Philautus at the Hobby inn and arrest him for robbery.


Cornutus is a browbeaten seventh husband. When his neighbor, the Host, repeatedly encourages him to stand up to his wife, Cornutus insists that speaking against one's wife is wrong. Acutus finds Cornutus's submission to his wife's authority to be overwhelmingly vile. He stages a wedding masque in which Cornutus is made to wear a ram's head. Acutus's scolds Cornutus, claiming that he has allowed his wife to go out gossiping while he has stayed at home and swept the kitchen.


Getica's dog, Bos tells us, is such a good little creature that he is never unkind to anything except his meat. Indeed, Getica is extremely fond of him, and when he is missing, she is preoccupied with finding him. At the end of the play, Acutus (who had tied up the dog in the tavern in order to play a trick on the drunken Bos and the drunker Philautus) promises Getica that her dog will be returned. Getica is worried, and rightly so, that her dog was given alcohol and made drunk as well.


The Drawer appears in II.iv. He agrees to Acutus's request to bind Getica's dog to a post.


Flaminius, an old senator, is Terentia's father. He is surprised early in the play when his daughter, Terentia, chooses to marry an orator of unimpressive birth, Tully, over the dashing soldier and patrician, Lentulus. In fact, Flaminius threatens to take the matter to the Senate. All is made well, however, when Terentia persuades Tully to wait patiently for this most recent of Flaminius's frequent bouts of anger to pass, and Lentulus gives his blessing to the pair and proposes to Flavia instead.


Flavia, described in the dramatis personae as a "wag," delivers the play's prologue, which she uses as an opportunity to practice her husband-wooing skills. In the play itself, it is Lentulus who has won her heart, although Flavia has had plenty of suitors, which she has dismissed either because they were too old or too stupid; unfortunately, Lentulus is in love with Flavia's friend, Terentia. Flavia and Terentia both write letters to Lentulus in which they declare their feelings. Meanwhile, Flavia supports Terentia's efforts to win Tully, looking in on their betrothal scene regularly to encourage them to make haste. After Terentia and Tully declare their mutual love, Lentulus decides to marry Flavia, much to her delight. The four solemnize their vows in a double ceremony at which the Emperor is in attendance.


The rather anachronistic Friar appears in IV.i. He delivers the oration at Philautus's funeral. His subject, appropriately, is man's mortality.


The stage directions describe Getica as "a bawd." She paints and wears cork heels which are so high that they break off. Her main concern is her beloved puppy, whose care she trusts to her manservant, Bos. At some point in the play, offstage, she agrees to marry Scilicet; however, she's more concerned with finding her lost dog than making wedding plans. She attends Terentia's wedding along with her friends the Hostess and the Citizen's Wife, and she sees Scilicet wearing an ass head and being ridiculed for his jealous behavior toward her; however, she never responds to Acutus's shaming of her sweetheart. She only speaks when Acutus promises her that he will return her little dog. "I shall be beholding to you," she says.


Although the dramatis personae describes Graccus as a "prosecutor of vice," and while he assists Acutus in playing tricks upon Servulus, Scilicet, and Philautus, Graccus is the milder of the two. He often tries to dissuade Acutus from fighting with or teasing the dandies. Indeed, Graccus says, in reference to Servulus, "I pity the fool." His mercy, however, does not extend to Scilicet, whose malapropisms and other abuses of the English language offend Graccus.


"Mine Host of the Hobby," as he is listed in the dramatis personae, is a jolly fellow. He is one who proposes wine and sack as the solution to any brawl that might occur outside his inn. All are welcome at the Hobby: dandies, prosecutors of vice, bawds, servants, and dogs. The Host's declaration to his wife that he is to be the head and rule the house while she is to be the body and tend the house is met with resistance on the part of his wife, who eagerly listens to the Citizen's Wife's advice that the wife should rule her husband, body and purse. Acutus must believe that the Hostess is winning this war of the sexes, for he stages a wedding masque in which the Host plays the part of a goat. Acutus's lesson to the Host is that only a goat would allow the unnatural state of a wife domineering her husband.


Hostess of the Hobby inn. Encouraged by her friend the Citizen's Wife, the Hostess focuses her efforts on winning the constant battle for domestic supremacy. Her husband insists that he is the head of the house and she is to submit to authority. The Hostess, however, disappointed that her ruff is not as impressively deep as is fashionable, believes that she should be in control of her husband: body and purse. She attends the wedding with her friends the Citizen's Wife and Getica, pleased that she has been able to go to a court event without her husband, hoping that the entertainment will include naked men, and quite blatant about her willingness to cuckold her husband should the right courtier come along. What she gets instead is a masque organized by Acutus and starring her husband, wearing a goat's head. Acutus's message to the Host is that it is unnatural for a husband to be ruled by his wife. The Hostess's retort to Acutus is that he has a biscuit for a brain.


The dramatis personae describes Lentulus as a "soldier-hero." This occupation is so much a part of Lentulus's personality that he is unable to woo his beloved Terentia. Instead, Lentulus recruits his best friend, Tully, to make love to his intended on his behalf. Tully's efforts to win Terentia for Lentulus are unsuccessful; she is in love with Tully, not Lentulus. Rather than hold a grudge, Lentulus quickly accepts the love-match and settles on Flavia, who is in love with him, as his wife.


Philautus (also spelled Phylautus) is one of three dandies in the play. As his name indicates, he is consumed with self-love. His chief pastimes include drinking, and singing–he is a specialist in pricksong–while gazing at himself in the mirror. Acutus says that Philautus's only notable skills are that "he handles a comb well, a brush better, and will drink down a Dutchman." After Acutus starts a tavern brawl with the dandies, Servulus is ready to forgive him, saying that Acutus must have been mad. Scilicet, on the other hand, whom Acutus has called a fool, vows revenge. Philautus is mostly concerned with his hat: he says he wouldn't have minded if Acutus had broken his head in three places, but the ruining of his most fashionable hat is clearly an act of war. Philautus is no match for Acutus, who at one point encourages Philautus and Bos (Getica's manservant) to drink themselves into a sleepy stupor. Acutus then gives Philautus a potion to make him appear dead. When Philautus awakes on the bier at his own funeral, Acutus declares that Philautus is a devil. The constables are called in, and Philautus is arrested for robbery. In the end, Philautus is forced to appear before Caesar at the wedding where he benefits from the Emperor's general pardon of prisoners.


The Host of the Hobby inn's apprentices settle brawls; pour and sugar the wine; and relay messages between the Host and Hostess.


Flavia acts as the prologue. She uses the opportunity to practice her skill at wooing a husband.


Scilicet (also spelled Scillicet) is one of three dandies in the play. One of his supposed vices is that he thinks himself a wit: upon his first entrance he calls for a writing tablet. After Acutus starts a tavern brawl with the dandies, Servulus is ready to forgive him, saying that Acutus must have been mad. Scilicet, on the other hand, whom Acutus has called a fool, vows revenge. During one encounter with Acutus and Graccus at a bowling green, Scilicet is badly beaten, yet he does not learn his lesson. Together with his fellow victim Servulus, Scilicet spins the story of their encounter into a tale of Falstaffian proportions: there were seven–no, eight–attackers, not two. After this, Scilicet turns his attentions to Getica, to whom he has evidently proposed marriage offstage. Much to his frustration, however, Getica would rather search for her lost dog than make wedding plans. When Acutus (in disguise) offends Getica, Scilicet comes to her aid. Acutus removes his disguise and, at the suggestion of Servulus, the three men unite in a peaceful embrace. But Acutus is not finished with Scilicet. He encourages Scilicet to wear an ass's head in the wedding masque in order to ridicule him in front of the Emperor and Getica. Acutus's intent, he says, is to induce Scilicet to stop being jealously possessive of Getica.


Servulus (also spelled Sernulas) is one of three dandies in the play. His chief pastimes include drinking, singing, and looking at himself in the mirror. Servulus is generally a peaceful fellow. After Acutus starts a tavern brawl with the dandies, Servulus is ready to forgive him, saying that Acutus must have been mad. Later, after several other beatings and tricks, Servulus suggests that he and Scilicet hug Acutus. Not surprisingly, Acutus soon loses interest in Servulus and focuses his attention on Scilicet and Philautus.


Daughter of Flaminius. Her choleric father is no hindrance to Terentia, who, although beloved of the patrician soldier Lentulus, prefers the virtuous, though baseborn, orator Tully. When Tully comes to Terentia to court her on Lentulus's behalf, Terentia declares her love for Tully. She insists that neither Tully's birth nor her father's threats to take the matter to the Senate will stand in the way of their marriage. She succeeds in marrying him.


The famous Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero, or Tully, the name that he claims to prefer, has a dilemma. He is in love with Terentia, a senator's daughter who is not only out of his reach but also the beloved of his friend Lentulus. Tully is so devoted to Lentulus that he agrees to woo Terentia on his friend's behalf. But all of his rhetorical ability is useless in this case: Tully cannot persuade Terentia to love Lentulus because Terentia is in love with Tully. She convinces Tully that his low birth is of no matter; she loves him for his virtue and learning. Unfortunately, Terentia's father, Flaminius, is not at all pleased with the match that his daughter has made for herself, and he promises to take the matter to the Senate and the Emperor if necessary. Tully's chief worry is that he has betrayed his friend; however, Lentulus is quick to accept the couple and to propose to Flavia instead. The four solemnize their vows in a double ceremony at which the Emperor is in attendance.


The Citizen's Wife has several interests, none of which is her husband, Cornutus. She likes young men, money, and nice clothes, and she dabbles in female-friendly polemics. When her neighbor the Hostess complains that men think women are the weaker sex, the Citizen's Wife encourages her friend to use her "weapon," her tongue, to fight back. This strategy seems to work for the Citizen's Wife. When she first appears, she is using her tongue to complain about the newly made statute that a widow must wait two months before remarrying. Half a month would better suit the Citizen's Wife; "winters nights are long," as she says. She attends the wedding with her friends the Hostess and Getica, but she does not approve of Acutus's message that wives should be submissive to their husbands. The Citizen's Wife hypothesizes that Acutus rails against women only because he was rejected by women in his earlier days; after all, she says, "no good face could endure the sight of him."