Roger Boyle, 1st Earl of Orrery (1621-1679), was a British soldier, statesman and dramatist. Among his many works of poetry, theatre, fiction and non-fiction is his novel Parthenissa: That most fam’d Romance, first published in 1651. The work imitates the heroic romances of French writers such as La Calprenede (author of Cassandra).
It tells the tale of Artabanes, a prince of Media who is deeply in love with Parthenissa, and has fought a great many challenges in her name. Artabanes is tricked by his rival Surena into believing that Parthenissa loves Surena. Artabanes leaves his homeland in despair, is taken captive by pirates, escapes his bondage, gathers some followers, and eventually bumps into a friend from home who clears up the deception regarding Surena. Artabanes rushes back to his homeland to find that the king has decided that he wants Parthenissa and she has taken a death potion (although in fact she has faked her death). Artabanes stabs himself, but recovers. He leaves his homeland again, before finding out that Parthenissa is in fact alive. The novel was not a great success, being rather too heavy for the taste of King Charles’ court.