Argenis (ahr-JEE-nihs), a beautiful, resourceful priestess of Pallas Athena and the daughter of Meleander, king of Sicily; she also symbolizes the throne of France. Having met Poliarchus, a hero in the Sicilian rebellion, she can never return the love of Archombrotus, a suitor favored by her father, or that of Radirobanes, king of Sardinia, who insists on pressing his suit and attempts to blackmail her for meeting her beloved in secret. She thwarts Radirobanes’ designs, appeases her father’s wrath, discovers that Archombrotus is her half brother, and marries the man of her choice.
Poliarchus (po-lih-AHR-kuhs), in reality Prince Astioristes of France, allegorically King Henry IV of Navarre, a warrior-hero in chivalric disguise. As a daring fighter for King Meleander, the young knight insists on a firm peace rather than a truce, and he thereby alienates his loved one’s father and makes an enemy of the rebel leader, Lycogenes. An outcast, Poliarchus assumes female disguise and calls himself Theocrine in order to enter the heavily guarded castle where Argenis and her maidens have been sent by Meleander after Lycogenes has threatened to abduct the princess; Poliarchus’ purpose is to see for himself whether Argenis is as beautiful as she is reported. The two meet and fall deeply in love. The adventures of Poliarchus include routing pirates, slaying a Sardinian interloper in single combat, and succeeding to the throne of France, as well as marrying Argenis.
Archombrotus (ahr-kom-BROH-tuhs), Poliarchus’ good friend, in reality Hyempsal, prince of Mauritania and King Meleander’s favorite warrior. The first to know of his friend’s deep love for Argenis, he too is smitten and presses his suit for...
(The entire section is 781 words.)