Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Arbaces (AHR-buh-seez), the king of Iberia. He proudly proclaims his own humility and bravery after his victory over the Armenians, but he finds his self-confidence shaken by his passion for the girl he believes to be his sister. His melodramatic inner torments are relieved when he discovers that he is not the son of the previous king and is therefore free to marry Panthea.


Tigranes (tih-GRAY-neez), the king of Armenia, who is conquered and taken prisoner by Arbaces. He succumbs briefly to the charms of Panthea but recognizes the virtues of the faithful Spaconia and resolves to be constant to her.


Arane (uh-RAY-nee), the queen mother, who attempts to murder her foster son to make her daughter queen.


Gobrias (GOH-bree-uhs), the lord protector, Arbaces’ father. He is forced to thwart Arane’s plots until he can reveal the truth at the time when his son most welcomes it.


Panthea (PAN-thee-uh), Arane’s daughter. She is distressed by her unsisterly feelings for Arbaces and accepts imprisonment to save them both from sin.


Spaconia (spa-KOH-nee-uh), an Armenian lady who follows her beloved Tigranes to Iberia. She readily forgives his brief infatuation with Panthea and agrees to become his wife.


Lygones (LI-goh-neez), her father, whose anger with his runaway daughter is mollified when he learns that she is to be Tigranes’ queen.


Mardonius (mahr-DOH-nee-uhs), Arbaces’ captain, the one person who dares to criticize the king to his face.


Bessus (BEH-suhs), another captain, a notorious cowardly braggart, one in the long tradition of the milites gloriosi.


Bacarius (ba-KAY-ree-uhs), an Iberian lord who plans a trap to deflate Bessus’ pride.

A King and No King Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Frost, David L. The School of Shakespeare. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1968. A discussion of the various ways in which playwrights who knew Shakespeare and admired him, made use of his work. There is a chapter on his effect on Beaumont and Fletcher.

Misener, Arthur. “The High Design of A King and No King.” Modern Philology 38 (November, 1940): 123-154. Questions how morally serious these playwrights were, or if they were simply interested in providing sensational scenes.

Oliphant, E. H. C. The Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1927. Standard, dependable discussion of the canon, with some detailed discussion of A King and No King.

Ornstein, Robert. The Moral Vision of Jacobean Tragedy. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965. Such frightful things—physical, moral, and political—happen in this sort of play that it is difficult for a contemporary reader to understand the context, and this book attempts to put the problem in perspective.

Sprague, Arthur Colby. Beaumont and Fletcher on the Restoration Stage. New York: Benjamin Blom, 1965. One of the best ways to understand a work of art is to examine how another historical period interprets and uses the material. These playwrights were not only an influence on Restoration drama, but were also very popular, in their own right, on the Restoration stage.