Gostanzo, a stern Florentine gentleman. He believes his son Valerio to be a shy, industrious farmer and contrasts his virtues with the supposed aberrations of Fortunio, counseling strong punishment for the filial ingratitude of the latter. He is unexpectedly won over by the elaborate schemes of the young people.
Valerio, his son, known to all but his father as a notorious gambler, drinker, and lover. He revels in schemes to gull Gostanzo and Cornelio, who once succeeded in duping him.
Marc Antonio, a mild-tempered gentleman who is ready to forgive his own son for his supposed secret marriage and is quick to intercede wherever he feels others are being too harsh or unjust.
Fortunio, Marc Antonio’s older son, a gallant who is enamored of Gostanzo’s daughter Bellonora. He is party to all the schemes in the air, although he initiates none of them.
Rinaldo, Fortunio’s cynical brother, the intriguer who arranges the elaborate deceptions that enable Fortunio and Valerio to be with their mistresses.
Cornelio, an upstart courtier who appears to be consumed with jealousy of his young wife.
Gratiana, Valerio’s bride, a beautiful but penniless young woman.
Bellonora, Fortunio’s sweetheart. Her strict father, Gostanzo, keeps her under close watch, until he falls into Rinaldo’s trap and gives her the much-desired opportunity to be with her lover.
Gazetta, Cornelio’s wife. Chafing under her husband’s jealousy, she confesses envy of the young women who have not yet settled down to married life. She entertains herself with Cornelio’s friends.