a synoptic, alphabetical character list
Arviragus is Cymbeline's long-lost son, kidnapped with his brother (Guiderius) by Euriphile and Belarius twenty years before the play begins. He believes himself to be Cadwal, son of Morgan, who is really Belarius. Cymbeline's two sons, with Belarius, help vanquish the Roman army when Cymbeline's forces seem likely to lose. At the end of the play, Belarius reveals that Cadwal and Polydore are really Cymbeline's sons, Arviragus and Guiderius, and Cymbeline's family is thus reunited.
Twenty years before the play begins, Belarius was banished from Cymbeline's court. He took the name Morgan and settled near Milford Haven with his wife Euriphile and Cymbeline's sons Arviragus and Guiderius, whom he and Euriphile had kidnapped. Belarius and Euriphile raised the boys, renaming them Cadwal and Polydore. Twenty years later, Belarius and his supposed sons become Imogen's hosts when she is wandering near Milford Haven disguised as a man. After Belarius and his "sons" save Britain from near defeat and Belarius is knighted and reveals his true identity and theirs, Cymbeline forgives Belarius and greets him as a brother.
Cadwal is really Arviragus, Cymbeline's son. As an infant, Arviragus and his brother Guiderius were kidnapped by their nurse, Euriphile, who raised them with her husband, the banished lord Belarius. Belarius changed his own name to Morgan, and renamed the boys Cadwal and Polydore. See "ARVIRAGUS."
Emperor of Rome. Though it is never mentioned which Caesar is meant, if Cymbeline is meant to be the historic British king Cunobelinus, father of Caradoc (Caratacus) and Togodumnus, then this Caesar would have to be Claudius, whose reign began in 41 A.D., two years before the death of Cunobelinus's father, Cassivelaunus. However, the Roman invasion represented in the play was carried out by Claudius after the death of Cunobelinus and was resisted by his sons.
Caius Lucius is Rome's ambassador and later the general of Rome's invading forces. After the Romans have been vanquished, Caius Lucius begs Cymbeline to ransom his page Fidele, who is really Cymbeline's daughter Imogen in disguise.
A British captain announces that Caius Lucius has been captured, and a second captain orders the arrest of Posthumous Leonatus, who is disguised as a British peasant.
Cloten is the Queen's son, Cymbeline's stepson and stepbrother to Imogen. The Queen's plan to garner power by marrying Cloten to Imogen is foiled by Imogen's unsanctioned marriage to Posthumous Leonatus. After Imogen disappears from court, Pisanio sends Cloten on a wild goose chase to Milton Haven to find her. Cloten decides to wear some of Posthumous Leonatus' clothes, but when he is beheaded by Guiderius and Imogen wakes up next to him she mistakes him for her husband.
Cornelius is a physician who supplies the Queen with poison. In an aside, Cornelius reveals that he had been sufficiently suspicious of his customer to give her a non-lethal substance instead of the fatal poison she had requested. His suspicions prove correct when the Queen gives a dose of the poison to Pisanio, telling him that it is a cordial that she administers to the king (Cymbeline). As Cymbeline is celebrating the defeat of the Roman army, Cornelius arrives bearing tidings of the Queen's death by accidental poisoning.
Cymbeline is the king of Britain, father of Imogen and stepfather of Cloten. Cymbeline and his second wife (Queen) want Imogen to marry the queen's son, Cloten, but their plan goes awry when Imogen marries Posthumous Leonatus. Along with his family troubles, Cymbeline faces the threat of a Roman invasion if he persists in his refusal to pay the monetary tributes Rome demands. At the end of the play, Cymbeline regains much of what he had believed lost, including his sons Arviragus and Guiderius, his daughter Imogen, and the British nation, which the Romans fail to conquer thanks in part to the timely assistance of his sons.
A "ghost character." In II.iii, Imogen sends Pisanio on an errand to find Imogen's missing bracelet; she tells him to ask Dorothy, her woman, to search for it.
The Dutchman, Philario's friend, participates in the conversation that leads to Iachimo's wager that he can seduce Imogen.
A "ghost character." Euriphile, Belarius' wife, was the nurse and later kidnapper of Cymbeline's sons Arvirgarus and Guiderius. She is dead before the play begins.
A male disguise that Imogen adopts.
Alternate spelling of Philario. See "PHILARIO."
The Frenchman, Philario's friend, participates in the conversation that leads to Iachimo's wager that he can seduce Imogen.
The play opens with a conversation between two gentlemen, who discuss the news of Imogen's unsanctioned marriage to Posthumous Leonatus. The first gentleman suggests that public opinion favors the match, especially because Imogen had been promised to Cloten, her unappealing stepbrother.
The ghosts of Posthumous Leonatus' parents and brothers appear to him in a dream. They are identified as Sicilius Leonatus, his father, and ancient Matron, his mother, and his two brothers, the two young Leonati, who sport the death wounds they received in battle. They lament Posthumous's condition until Jupiter silences them.
Alternate spelling for Iachimo. See "IACHIMO."
Guiderius is Cymbeline's long-lost son, kidnapped with his brother (Arviragus) by Belarius and Euriphile twenty years before the play begins. He believes himself to be Polydore, son of Morgan, who is really Belarius. Guiderius befriends Imogen without knowing that she is his sister, and beheads Cloten without knowing that they are stepbrothers. Cymbeline's two sons, with Belarius, help vanquish the Roman army when Cymbeline's forces seems likely to lose. At the end of the play, Belarius reveals that Polydore and Cadwal are really Cymbeline's sons, Guiderius and Arviragus, and Cymbeline's family is thus reunited.
Sometimes spelled Giacomo or Jacomo in modernized texts. He is an Italian whom Posthumous Leonatus meets at Philario's house. After listening to Posthumous Leonatus praising Imogen, Iachimo bets that he can seduce her. Iachimo travels to Britain and fails to seduce Imogen, but he obtains access to her bedroom by hiding in a trunk with plans to rape her. Although he cannot bring himself to complete the crime, Iachimo watches Imogen sleeping and uses his observations to claim that he has won the bet. The bracelet that he has stolen from Imogen, along with his accurate description of her bedchamber and the mole beneath her breast, is sufficient to convince Posthumous Leonatus. The lie is avenged in battle, when Posthumous Leonatus, disguised as a peasant, disarms Iachimo. Later, in front of Imogen and Posthumous Leonatus, both disguised, Iachimo confesses. Posthumous forgives him because he is contrite.
Imogen, Cymbeline's daughter, marries Posthumous Leonatus against her father's wishes. Posthumous Leonatus is banished for this transgression, and Imogen is imprisoned. Posthumous Leonatus seeks refuge at Philario's house in Italy, where he praises Imogen so immoderately that Iachimo is tempted to wager that he can seduce her. Iachimo fails, but returns to Italy with sufficient evidence to convince Posthumous Leonatus that Imogen has been unfaithful. Posthumous Leonatus orders his servant Pisanio to kill Imogen, but Pisanio refuses to believe that Imogen has betrayed her husband. Posthumous Leonatus sends Imogen a letter asking her to meet him at Milford Haven, where, unbeknownst to her, Pisanio has instructions to kill her. When Imogen learns the truth from Pisanio, she asks him to kill her, but Pisanio advises her to disguise herself as a man and join the Roman army until Posthumous Leonatus learns that his accusations are mistaken. As a parting gift, Pisanio gives Imogen the box of poison that the Queen had given to him in the guise of a cordial. Imogen, now disguised as a man, wanders for two days before meeting Belarius and his sons (really her brothers Guiderius and Arviragus, although only Belarius knows that, and he does not know Imogen's true identity). They feed and shelter "him", and Arviragus vows to love "him" as a brother. When her brothers and Belarius are hunting, Imogen, feeling ill, swallows the cordial / poison and appears to be dead. Meanwhile, Guiderius and Imogen's stepbrother Cloten fight, and Guiderius decapitates Cloten, who has come to Milford Haven dressed in Posthumous Leonatus' clothes. Imogen and Cloten are laid side by side, and when Imogen awakens beside the headless corpse dressed in her husband's suit she believes that the corpse is Posthumous Leonatus. When Caius Lucius passes by leading the Roman army, he decides to hire the disguised Imogen as his page (named Fidele), and when the Romans are defeated Imogen is brought to Cymbeline's court. At this gathering, disguises are removed and the truth is revealed. Iachimo admits that he did not really seduce Imogen, Posthumous Leonatus abandons his disguise to attack Iachimo, Imogen's disguise is penetrated, Cornelius explains that Pisanio did not really mean to poison Imogen, and Belarius reveals that his boys are really Cymbeline's long-lost sons. The play ends happily, with general reunions.
'Innogen' is arguably the correct spelling of the name familiar to most as Imogen. This spelling is again found in Much Ado About Nothing where, in a stage direction in the first Folio (and also in II.i), she is Leonato's wife, presumably Hero's mother, and a mute character.
An alternative spelling of Iachimo.
On Cymbeline's orders, two jailers take hold of Posthumous Leonatus, who at this point in the play is disguised as a British peasant. After Posthumous Leonatus is visited by the ghosts of his family members and receives a promise from Jupiter, a jailer arrives to tell him that he will soon be hanged.
Jupiter is invoked by characters throughout the play, and makes an appearance in V.v when he descends from the heavens on an eagle accompanied by thunder and lightning, armed with a thunderbolt. He silences the complaining ghosts of Posthumous Leonatus' family by telling them that he tests those he loves, and he promises that Posthumous Leonatus will be reunited with Imogen and be happy. Jupiter gives the ghosts a tablet to lay on Posthumous Leonatus' chest. When Posthumous Leonatus awakens, he reads the book, which promises an end to his miseries and Britain's if certain impossible-sounding conditions are met.
In I.iii, the Queen sends a lady to summon Imogen. In II.iii, Cloten seeks access to Imogen by bribing one of her ladies.
Throughout the play, Cloten is accompanied by two lords who act as his confidants and flatterers. The second lord's asides to the audience often mock Cloten. When Cymbeline threatens to torture Pisanio for information about the missing Imogen, a lord intervenes to speak on Pisanio's behalf. Another lord announces that the Roman legions have landed on British soil. Posthumous Leonatus tells a lord that three menhe does not know that they are Arviragus, Guiderius, and Belariushave saved the Britons from defeat.
Posthumous Leonatus' mother is identified only as "an ancient Matron" in a stage direction. She died giving birth to Posthumous Leonatus. She appears in the play as one of the Leonati, the familial ghosts who visit Posthumous Leonatus.
A messenger announces Caius Lucius' arrival in II.iii. In V.v, when Posthumous Leonatus is preparing for death, a messenger summons him to see Cymbeline.
Morgan is the pseudonym Belarius adopts after his banishment. By this name he is known to his "sons" Polydore and Cadwal, who are in reality Cymbeline's sons, Guiderius and Arvirgarus, whom Belarius and his wife Euriphile stole in infancy.
Cloten hires musicians to play for Imogen in the hope that this will render her more receptive to his courtship.
When Posthumous Leonatus is banished, he leaves Britain for Rome, where he will stay with his father's friend, Philario. Philario is Posthumous's host in his banishment and tries to dissuade the wager between Posthumous and Iachimo over Imogen's fidelity. He later believes Iachimo's evidence of Imogen's infidelity.
Philarmonus, a soothsayer, predicts success for the Romans based on his dream-vision. Later, he interprets the riddle that Jupiter has given to Posthumous Leonatus, and revises his interpretation of his dream to indicate a British victory.
Pisanio is Posthumous Leonatus' faithful servant, who acts as a messenger between Imogen and his master when Posthumous Leonatus is banished. After Iachimo convinces Posthumous Leonatus that Imogen has been unfaithful, Posthumous Leonatus orders Pisanio to kill Imogen. Pisanio refuses to believe that Imogen has betrayed her husband. Through Pisanio, Posthumous Leonatus sends Imogen a letter asking her to meet him at Milford Haven, where, unbeknownst to her, Pisanio has instructions to kill her. Instead, Pisanio advises her to disguise herself as a man and join the Roman army until Posthumous Leonatus learns that his accusations are mistaken. As a parting gift, Pisanio gives Imogen the box of poison the Queen had given to him, which he believes is a cordial. When he returns to court, Pisanio sends Cloten on a wild goose chase to find Imogen. Cymbeline threatens to torture Pisanio for information about Imogen's disappearance. When Imogen returns to Cymbeline's court disguised as Caius Lucius' Page, Fidele, Pisanio chooses a strategic moment to reveal her true identity and set the reconciliations of the final act in motion.
Polydore is really Guiderius, Cymbeline's son. As an infant, Guiderius and his brother Arviragus were kidnapped by their nurse, Euriphile, who with her husband, the banished lord Belarius reared them. Belarius changed his own name to Morgan, and renamed the boys Polydore and Cadwal. See "GUIDERIUS."
Posthumous Leonatus is so named because his father, Sicilius Leonatus died before his son was born, and his mother died in childbed. The play opens with news that Posthumous Leonatus has married King Cymbeline's daughter, Imogen, without Cymbeline's sanction. Cymbeline banishes Posthumous Leonatus, who travels to Rome seeking refuge at the home of his father's friend Philario. At Philario's house, Posthumous Leonatus praises Imogen so highly that Philario's friend Iachimo wagers ten thousand ducats that he can seduce her. When Iachimo returns from Britain with Imogen's bracelet and detailed descriptions of her bedchamber and body, Posthumous Leonatus is convinced that his wife has been unfaithful. He turns misogynist and delivers a blistering soliloquy against women. After he has learned to repent his rashness, Posthumous Leonatus returns to Britain disguised as a peasant, fights bravely against Rome, and is reunited with Imogen. He forgives Iachimo and makes peace with Cymbeline.
RICHARD DU CHAMP
Possibly a "ghost character" and probably a fictitious character. When Caius Lucius asks Imogen about the headless corpse lying beside her, she claims that the body is that of her dead master, Richard du Champ. She actually believes that the dead man is Posthumous Leonatus, and she does not realize that it is Cloten's headless trunk in Posthumous's clothes.
At Milford Haven, a Roman captain tells Caius Lucius that reinforcements, headed by Iachimo, are on their way. When Caius Lucius discovers the "lifeless" body of Imogen, still disguised as a boy, it is the captain who confirms that "he" is sleeping, not dead.
The queen is Cymbeline's second wife, Cloten's mother, and Imogen's stepmother. She plots to unite her son with Imogen, kill Cymbeline, and place Cloten on the throne. On her deathbed, she confesses that she has been slowly poisoning Cymbeline and never loved him. Ironically, she dies of accidental poisoning.
The Roman senators and tribunes discuss their emperor's decision to make Caius Lucius the general in charge of invading Britain.
Sicilius Leonatus, Posthumous Leonatus' father, fought for Britain against the Romans and died from grief when his two elder sons were slain in battle, before Posthumous Leonatus was born. He appears in the play as one of the Leonati, the familial ghosts who visit Posthumous Leonatus.
An alternative designation for Philarmonus.
The Spaniard, Philario's friend, participates in the conversation that leads to Iachimo's wager that he can seduce Imogen.
The Roman senators and tribunes discuss their emperor's decision to make Caius Lucius the general in charge of invading Britain.