John Rastell


circa 1517–circa 1518

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Masquers who dance and sing with Sensual Appetite for Humanity.


Also spelled "Experiens," a traveler to foreign lands and cousin of Studious Desire. He describes the geography of the world, and laments that corrupt mariners have prevented serious explorers from reaching the lands across the Atlantic and learning more about their resources. He criticizes Sensual Desire for never learning from experience. He describes empirical evidence for the earth's roundness and performs experiments to prove it.


Presents himself as a student to Nature. After Nature's departure, though, he begins to question certain scientific mysteries and turns to Studious Desire to help him puzzle them out. Ignoring Studious Desire's warnings against spending time with Sensual Appetite, he accompanies him to a tavern. He returns to learn from Experience that there are proofs of the earth's roundness, but tires of his experiments and rejoins Sensual Appetite, getting into a bar brawl with him and then hiding. He is discovered by Ignorance and Sensual Appetite, and agrees to forsake learning for their company. After he enjoys a musical interlude devised by Sensual Appetite, and listens to a ballad sung by Ignorance, he is chastised by Nature for wasting time. The rest of the play is lost.


A friend of Sensual Appetite's, he advises Humanity to avoid learning, which causes melancholy. He and Humanity enjoy Sensual Appetite's musical interlude, and Ignorance sings a ballad for Humanity.


Introduces the Interlude and its subject matter.


Also called "Natura Naturata" in the Latin stage directions and "Lord Nature" by Studious Desire. Describes to Humanity the organization of the physical world and the behavior of elements. Leaves Humanity in Studious Desire's care, but returns after the musical interludes to chide Humanity for wasting his time with Sensual Appetite. The rest of the play is lost.


A rowdy drunk who tries to distract Humanity from his studies. He brings Humanity to a Tavern and arranges for food, drink, and women; he becomes angry, however, when Humanity chooses to talk with Experience rather than continue their feasting. He rejoins Humanity and gets into a tavern brawl with him, then leaves Humanity with Ignorance to arrange a musical interlude, which he with performs with dancers.


Masquers who dance and sing with Sensual Appetite for Humanity.


Humanity's attendant, who promises Nature to help Humanity pursue his lessons. After Nature's departure, though, Humanity begins to wonder how to prove that the earth is round, and turns to Studious Desire to help him puzzle it out. He warns Humanity that he will learn nothing useful from Sensual Appetite, but leaves them together. He greets Experience, lamenting Humanity's distraction, but is unsuccessful in parting him from Sensual Appetite and Ignorance. The rest of the play is lost.


Keeper of the Inn, he jokes with Humanity and Sensual Desire and prepares a feast for them.