Pyrocles (PI-rohk-leez), Prince of Macedon. Journeying with his cousin Musidorus, he fights on the side of justice in many countries before he reaches Arcadia and falls in love with a picture of the Princess Philoclea. He disguises himself as an Amazon, Zelmane, to be near his lady, only to find himself tormented by the passion of both her parents.
Musidorus (mew-sih-DOH-ruhs), his cousin and loyal friend, Prince of Thessalia. He masquerades as Dorus, a shepherd, and pretends to court the homely Mopsa in order to win the hand of the noble Princess Pamela, who is finally persuaded to run away with him.
Basilius (beh-SIH-lih-uhs), the ruler of Arcadia, who takes his Queen and their daughters into the country to prevent the fulfillment of an oracle’s prophecy, which he fears portends disaster for him. He betrays both his age and his dignity in his passion for his daughter’s companion, Zelmane.
Gynecia (jih-NEE-shih-uh), his young wife, who suffers agonies of conscience for the desire and jealousy she feels for Pyrocles, whose disguise she has penetrated. Resenting his attentions to Philoclea, she is freed from her passion only after she has almost killed her husband with a love potion intended for Zelmane.
Pamela, their stately, reserved older daughter, who is wooed and, after much resistance, won by Musidorus.
Philoclea (fih-lohk-LEE-uh), her sweeter, more submissive sister. She responds quickly to Pyrocles’ love, but she lacks the strength with which Pamela meets difficulties.
Amphialus (am-FI-eh-luhs), Basilius’ warrior nephew, who is spurred on by his ambitious mother and by his love for Philoclea to kidnap the princesses and take over the kingdom. Although he deeply regrets the deaths he causes, he cannot restrain his desire for fighting....
(The entire section is 897 words.)