James Shirley

The First Part of
(Second part unknown)


a synoptic, alphabetical character list


Accompany Patrick's Guardian Angel, Victor, when he descends from heaven to warn Patrick about Archimagus' plot to have him killed by Snakes.


Chief priest. To his inferior Pagan priests, he boasts supreme confidence, but tells us that he is desperately worried about a prophecy that predicts a stranger arriving and wielding spiritual influence to eclipse his. He tells the King of Ireland to ignore his ominous dreams. He expresses outrage at the 'base apostasy' of Dichu who converts to Christianity under Patrick's influence. Archimagus agrees to assist the King's daughters by sheltering Dichu's sons in the temple–the King has ordered them to be killed; he also agrees to help Prince Corybreus win Emeria from his brother, Conallus. He presides over a ceremony in which Jupiter's statue orders the death of Patrick. Then brings the sons of Dichu out of hiding for dalliance with the King's lusty daughters. He participates in the King's failed attempt to poison Patrick. He brings Corybreus to Emeria, unwittingly disturbing her from killing herself. Archimagus presides over the blood sacrifice to Jupiter and Mars, hoping that the next death will be that of Patrick. He notes the distracted state of the King, who orders that Archimagus be guarded. He further assists Ferochus and Endarius by cooperating with their bid to encourage the notion that they are their own ghosts–he drives them out, as if he is the controller of them, thus helping the two brothers to escape from the King. His plot to have Patrick killed by Ireland's reptiles goes wrong when Patrick drive the reptilian assailants into the sea. The ground opens up, and Archimagus, Faustus-like, is dragged down into hell.


A poet, who sometimes makes down-to-earth, perceptive comments and sometimes contrives facetious, hastily written poems. He mocks Rodamant's comments about his passion for the Queen of Ireland, and observes amusedly when Rodamant is poisoned and then saved by the poisoned wine meant only for Patrick. Milcho tells him to lighten the misery of Emeria. He comments matter-of-factly about Milcho's treacherous conduct. He reports the urgent news to the Queen: the house in which she is imprisoned is on fire. The Bard flirts with the idea of turning Christian, but worries about his ability to tolerate 'an ounce of care'. He is pitied by Patrick for his immersion in the petty pleasures of the world.


Younger son of the king of Ireland. He worries about his father's mental state and conduct. Conallus enjoys fleeting moments of bliss with his love, Emeria, not realising that his brother is plotting to take her from him. He dislikes his father's plot to murder Patrick–''Tis not like a king'; he does betray the plot to a serene Patrick. He is told by Emeria about her rape by the 'god'. He vows revenge, and asserts that when the rape is avenged, he will treat Emeria as if she was still a virgin; but he seems perplexed and uncommitted when she tells him that it was a 'god' who ravished her. He observes his father's breakdown at the blood sacrifice at the temple. Emeria tells him that it was his brother who raped her: he finds this news, and the news that Emeria killer her assailant, difficult to comprehend. He is surprised to see that his mother, the Queen, has survived the inferno, thanks to Patrick's guidance and support. He determines to tell the story of Emiria's rape and rescue to Patrick. He ends the play as a dedicated follower of Patrick.


Elder son of the king of Ireland. He tells Patrick and his troupe to get out of Ireland. He observes the incident of Dichu's conversion to Christianity, commenting fecklessly. He plots to wrestle the hand of Emeria from her chosen lover, his brother, Conallus. Archimagus gives him a bracelet which will make him invisible, and assist him in his gaining of her hand. Using his bracelet-given invisibility, he enters the quarters of Emeria. He tells her that he is the god, Ceanerachius, and proceeds to sexually advance upon her, eventually achieving sexual intercourse–without her consent. Later, he attempts to repeat the process, but this time Emeria stabs him to death.


A nobleman. Dichu attacks Patrick for his Christian discourse, reviling his 'blasphemy'. He makes to strike Patrick, but feels a bizarre sensation, and instantly converts to Christianity, joining Patrick's band and incurring the wrath of the Irish King. Living in the woods, dressed as a hermit, he hides away. His sons, Ferochus and Endarius, happen upon him when they are on the run. After assuring them that he had no role in the plot to have them killed, he gives them modest food and shelter. He welcomes the eventual meeting with Patrick's band, and announces the conversion to Christianity of his two previously sinful sons.


Milcho's daughter. Despite status anxieties, she professes sincere love for the King's younger son, Conallus. She is subject to flattering comments by Conallus' brother, Corybreus, but she rejects them. Alone in her quarters, she admits to fearing the disposition of Corybreus. She believes that the invisible Corybreus is the god, Ceanerachius, but suspects his identity when the invisible entity moves to achieve coitus with her–Emeria is indeed raped. She tells Conallus about her post-rape shame. When his response to the raping by the 'god' is not reassuring, she resolves to kill herself. She is interrupted from her suicide by Corybreus, who seeks to repeat his enjoyment of her–this time, however, she stabs him to death. In the woods, she is nearly raped again–this time by soldiers, but is saved by the antics of Rodamant, who now possesses the invisible-making bracelet. She meets with Conallus again, who hears from her that it was his brother who raped her. He comes to terms with her killing of Corybreus. It is not quite clear if Emeria and Conallus will return to their former state of loving union. Emeria speaks briefly about her newfound peace as a Christian follower of Patrick.


Son of nobleman, Dichu. He worriedly reports to Archimagus about the King's troubled disposition. After his father's conversion to Christianity, he has to hide, doing so by posing as an idol in the temple. He emerges from hiding to cavort with the King's daughter, Ethne. He repeats the process of posing as an idol during the blood sacrifice, and again leaps down to dally with Ethne, but is rendered bamboozled and foolish by the interfering of the invisible Rodamant. He pretends to be his own blood-covered ghost, terrifying the King, and allowing Archimagus to order him to flee. Less nervous than Ferochus, he does start to worry in the woods when they come across a cave–but that turns out to be the hiding place of their father, Dichu, who gives them a warm welcome, food and shelter. He converts to the Christianity of Patrick.


The king of Ireland's daughter. After dancing, Ethne tells of her frustration at the lack of male company. Questions Rodamant, with mock seriousness, about his studies in devil management. Professing piety, she stays behind in the temple, really to have an amorous session with her lover, Endarius - she has previously asked Archimagus to help save the sons of Dichu, for her and her sister's enjoyment of them. When attending the blood sacrificing service, she takes advantage of her father's absence to meet with Endarius again. She is kissed by the invisible Rodamant, and baffled by the confused behaviour of the brothers, Endarius and Ferochus. She is left frustrated as events force her lover's hasty departure.


Daughter of the king of Ireland. After dancing with her sister, Ethne, Fedella asks Archimagus to impede the plot to kill Dichu's sons, Endarius and Ferochus, so that they can enjoy the men's company. Secretly, she meets up in the temple with Ferochus. She takes advantage of her father's hasty leaving of the blood sacrifice to again dally with Ferochus. She gets kissed by the invisible Rodamant, who also kisses her sister and interferes with their men. She ends up baffled by the confused behaviour of the two brothers, and ends up frustrated as she and her sister are abandoned by the brothers who must flee.


Asks us for comments about the play, making the point that if Saint Patrick is the patron of Ireland, then the audience members are patrons of the play.


Son of nobleman, Dichu. Ferochus watches in amazement as his father first attacks and then joins up with Patrick's Christian band. Together with his brother, Endarius, he hides in the temple, acting as an idol. When given a chance, he comes out of hiding to spend time with his lover, the princess, Fedella. When joining up with her for a second time in the temple, he is harassed by the invisible Rodamant, who pours blood on him and his brother. When the King enters, he pretends, like his brother, to be his own ghost, and is driven out by Archimagus who claims to control these 'spirits'. Still blood-stained, he worries about being attacked in the woods by people, by wolves or even by a lion. He is greatly relieved to find his father in a low-key corner of the woods. After this reconciliation, he converts to the Christianity of Patrick.


A statue of Jupiter in the temple orders the killing of Patrick.


King of Ireland. He tells his high priest, Archimagus about his black dreams, but is placated by Archimagus. Demands information and deference from Patrick, and orders him and his followers to leave Ireland–they don't. He orders that the court's women are not told about the conversion of Dichu, which appalls him–the women have 'soluble and easy hearts', he fears. He pays tribute to the pagan gods at the temple, and hears Jupiter's order that Patrick be killed. He believes that his daughters are 'pious', and that they stay at the temple to worship the gods–actually, they are seeing the sons of Dichu, who the King has ordered the deaths of. He welcomes Patrick to the court, professing all sorts of courtesy and hospitality, but he tries to have him killed by poisoned wine. He orders Milcho to imprison his Queen in his house, after she is impressed by Patrick's Christianity and converts. He orders Milcho to somehow kill Patrick when he visits the latter's house to see the Queen. He breaks down during the blood sacrifice to Jove and Mars, but returns, only to be further frightened by the sons of Dichu–he thinks that the blood-covered brothers are their ghosts, because he thinks that they have been killed on his orders. He continues to seek Patrick's death, asking Archimagus to contrive some plot. The King sees the reptile plot of Archimagus fail, and the further rise of the apparently invincible Patrick, He professes repentance and a new eagerness to welcome Patrick–but Patrick does not trust him.


He warns Ferochus and Endarius about the extent of the King's rage over their father's conversion to Christianity. Probably one of the two magician/priests below


Two magician/priests figure in the play:
  • The First expresses fear about the arrival of Patrick, who could be a threat to the Irish pagans' way of life. He expresses shock at Rodamant's remarks about the Queen's comeliness.
  • The Second determines to raise fiends from hell to ward off the Christian threat of Patrick.


A great officer. He follows the King's orders to keep the Queen under house arrest in his house. He tells Emeria to marry Corybreus, because he is closer in line to the throne–her opinion or feelings are of no interest to him. He is embarrassed when Corybreus dies on his property, and cannot explain why. He plans to place the blame on either Conallus or the Queen. Following an order from the King to kill Patrick, he sets his own house on fire, to kill the visiting Patrick, and anybody else in the house, if necessary. He once owned Patrick as a slave, and still resents his escape. He adds material for the fire to burn, and, apparently spontaneously, throws himself into certain death in the flames.


She silently observes the religious ceremony in which Jupiter calls for Patrick's death–generally, this character says very little. She is so moved by Patrick's piety, that she turns Christian, getting herself put under the guard of Milcho. She endures the imprisonment, aided by the comfort-giving Patrick. Caught up in the fire that Milcho starts in his own house, she is presumed to have died. But she surprises her son, Conallus, by appearing in the woods with Patrick's other followers, and tells him how Patrick calmly led her out from the inferno. She tells of the sacrifices that her new Christian lifestyle necessitates, and speaks about the perennial comforts of the Christian belief system.


Introduces himself to the Irish King as a servant of heaven. He urges the King and his subjects to eschew the 'painted gods' of Paganism. He accepts Dichu who instantly converts to Christianity when in the middle of attacking Patrick with a weapon. With good grace, he accepts the 'hospitality' of the King who tries to kill him through the poisoned wine plot–because of 'duty' to his host, he insists on drinking the wine. He suffers no ill-effects, even though the poisoned wine should have killed a man with the 'constitution of an elephant'. His request that a small chapel be built in the court goes unanswered, because of the King's distracted behaviour. He comes to see the Queen, who is imprisoned in Milcho's house–he brings a letter to Milcho, not realising that it contains an order for Milcho to kill him. He comforts the Queen, staying calm even when the house burns ferociously. He speaks continually about the joys of a Christian faith, and regrets, briefly, the crazed suicide of Milcho. He tries, unsuccessfully, to win the Bard over to a Christian lifestyle, and pities the earthly-obsessed poet. He gets referred to as 'Bishop Patrick' by his new supporter, Conallus. He brings his band to the cell of the hiding Dichu, and meets up with Dichu's newly-converted sons, Ferochus and Endarius. Having been warned of Archimagus' snake plot by his guardian Angel, Victor, he easily wards off the snakes into the sea, ensuring that poisonous reptiles will never appear on Irish soil again. He observes the descent into hell of Archimagus, and is skeptical about the professed regrets of the King. He ends the play talking about the centrality of martyrdom and suffering to the Christian way of life.


Followers of Patrick. They sing a religious song (in Latin), and attend Patrick when he visits the court, and survives the attempt to kill him with poisoned wine.


Asks for the audience to appreciate the performance, because a lot of work goes into staging a play. He calls for encouragement, because a sequel might follow if the audience likes this play. N.b. a sequel never did appear.


Rodamant has studied necromancy under Archimagus for seven years–but has failed to achieve anything. He declares his lust for the Queen. He tells a shocked Magician/Priest about his love for the Queen. He expresses bewilderment about the ever-changing roll-call of gods that the pagans must give obeisance to. He tells the appalled Bard about his crush on the Irish Queen, justifying it by saying that because an acquaintance of his loved a horse, it is not inappropriate for him to love a monarch's wife. He composes bad love poetry about the Queen, but is distracted by the chaos caused by Corybreus' death and the fire in Milcho's house. He takes the invisible-making bracelet from the dead body of Corybreus. In the temple, Rodamant puts on the bracelet, using his invisibility to kiss the Princesses, and to stop the fruition of their sexual dalliances with the sons of Dichu–to 'keep them honest', he says. Thinking that his love, the Queen, has died in the fire, he wanders idly in the woods. He uses his invisibility again, this time to prevent the rape of Emeria by two Soldiers, but a Spirit snatches the bracelet from him, leaving him feeling both visible and vulnerable.


Servant of Milcho. He performs access-giving tasks in Milcho's house, reports on characters' movements, and discovers the dead body of Corybreus, sharing his unclear thoughts with Milcho about who may have been responsible.


Under orders from Archimagus, they slither threateningly towards Patrick, but he drives them into the sea; they will never again appear on Irish soil.


Two soldiers figure in the play:
  • The First, enjoying the profits of war, wishes that Patrick's band was nearby, so that he could capture yet more Christians and accept the financial rewards. He seeks to ravish Emeria as soon as he sees her, but it stopped by the antics of the invisible Rodamant, who makes him and his colleague fight each other.
  • The Second wishes that his family was a Christian one–so that he could capture them for a reward from the pagan King's regime. Like the First Soldier, he seeks to ravish Emeria, but is rendered foolish by the tricks of the invisible Rodamant.


At least three spirits figure in the play:
  • The First fears the coming of Patrick.
  • The Second tells Archimagus that the feared Patrick has arrived.
  • The Third explains that Patrick's arrival forces the Spirits' departure.


They follow Corybreus into the quarters of Emeria, celebrating and dancing as Corybreus begins to carry out his plot to rape the maiden. Possibly same as the First, Second, and Third spirits.


In the woods, steals the magic bracelet from Rodamant. Possibly any one of the other spirits (First, Second, or Third).


Patrick's 'angelic guardian'. He carries a banner with a cross. He assures Patrick that the treachery of the King and Milcho cannot harm him, and that further martyrdom, even if it does happen, can only increase the numbers of people converting to Christianity. Accompanied by other Angels, he warns a slumbering Patrick about Archimagus' plot to have him killed by means of poisonous snakes.

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