Name Play in Pembroke's Arcadia

The most interesting


In the old Arcadia, prince Pyrocles changes his name to Cleophila for pursuing princess Philoclea, a perfect anagram to show his love. Pyrocles explains this naming design:
As for my name it shall be Cleophila, turning Philoclea to myself, as my mind is wholly turned and transformed into her.
This is the only explanation made by the author, but removed in the new Arcadia.
Pyrocles=pyr-close, Musidorus=mus-is-dour

The protagonist Pyrocles and his alias Daiphantus spells Philip Sidney*; or Philip Sidney is a one-way anagram of Pyrocles and Daiphantus.

Musidorus and Zelmane (Pyrocles’ famale alias) spells Mary Sidney*. The adventure of Pyrocles and Musidorus in Pembroke’s Arcadia reflects Philip and Mary Sidney.

Pyrocles (P____s) is Philip Sidney (P. S.).
Musidorus (M____s) is Mary Sidney (M. S.).

Pyrocles can be a perfect anagram of pyr-close (fire-ceased), and Musidorus mus-is-dour (mouth-is-dour). The two names show that Mary Sidney cannot express her passion openly. Pyrocles is close to Pericles, a Greek statesman, and the protagonist of Pericles, the Prince of Tyre. Wilton poets usually collect existing names for their name play.

Daiphantus=daut-phansy, Zelmane=zeel-man

Daiphantus, Pyrocles’ male alias, is a perfect anagram of daut-phansy. Daut means to fondle, caress. Pyrocles’ female alias Zelmane equals to zeel-man, meaning with zeal to be a man. Zeel is an obsolete form of zeal.

Pyrocles and Musidorus are cousins. Princess Zelmane disguises herself as a boy called Daiphantus to serve Pyrocles. Later Pyrocles uses Zelmane and Daiphantus as his female and male alias.

Philisides and Mira

Philisides is close to Philip Sidney, and the missing N can be found easily around the name, like "a young shepherd named Philisides." If we add his choice of Mira, then Philisides and Mira form Philip Sidney and Mary Sidney. The initials P. S. M. matches with the three names, Pylivm Socretem Maronem, in the Shakespeare monument.

Names of the other two pairs of lovers have the similar nature. Pyrocles and Philoclea can spell Philip Sidney; Musidorus and Pamela can spell Mary Sidney.

Strephon=stern-hope, Claius=clay-us

The two names appear in the middle of old Arcadia, but the very beginning of new Arcadia, a remembrance to Philip Sidney, Colin the shepherd. “The honest shepherds Strephon and Claius (who being themselves true friends)” Claius and Strephon’s desire is Philip Sidney’s desire.

Last Paragarph of the New Arcadia
The poor Philisides in the pursuit of his affections; the strange continuance of Claius and Strephon’s desire; lastly, the son of Pyrocles, named Pyrophilus, and Melidora, the fair daughter of Pamela by Musidorus, who even at their birth entered into admirable fortunes; may awake some other spirit to exercise his pen in that wherewith mine is already dulled.
Melidora is the daughter of Musidorus and Pamela. Her name is extracted from the parents. The same for Pyrophilus as the son of Philoclea and Pyrocles. The two children’s name Melidora and Pyrophilus can spell Philip Sidney and Mary.


Basilius is the father of Pamela and Philoclea. With the help of Thrace conquered by Euarchus (which spells the queen’s name). Basilius with “the” can spell Elisabeth. Basil- is within Elisabeth in reverse order. From Sidney’s view, the one close to Queen Elizabeth would be Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a story repeated in the Shepheardes Calender and the Lady of May.


Zelmane heard a story about a maid and her sparrow related to Strephon and Claius. The maid is Mary Sidney and the sparrow is Philip Sidney, hinted by Skelton’s Philip Sparrow.
Zelmane having heard some of the shepherds
by chance name Strephon and Claius. . . .
They saw a maid who thitherward did run,
To catch her Sparrow which from her did swerve,
The maid is the "fairest maid of fairer mind; by fortune mean." Her trouble is to marry "Antaxius their neighbour" by her parents’ will. Antaxius is the anagram of an-ax-suit, and "their neighbour" spells Henry Herbert, whose pursuit is an ax to Mary Sidney. The “fairest maid of fairer mind” can spell Mary Sidney.
And saw this fairest maid of fairer mind;
By fortune mean; in nature born a queen, . . .
With tedious brawlings of her parents dear,
Who would have her in will and word agree
To wed Antaxius their neighbour near.

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