Arcite is a nephew of the tyrant Creon of Thebes.
He neither likes nor approves of his uncle, and would leave his court and fight against him, were it not dishonorable. He has a pretty face and black hair, and has had a number of casual flings in his time. He is deeply attached to his cousin Palamon, his war-mate and best friend, and quite self-congratulatory about what good friends they are. The two are almost indistinguishable, both being just as self-involved, and both falling powerfully in love with Emilia merely at the sight of her. Freed thanks to Pirithous’s pleading, but banished from Athens, he disguises himself to compete in the wrestling and racing organized for Emilia’s birthday, where he wins all the competitions. Becoming a servant to Emilia, he pities Palamon. He is slightly more affected and more cheery than his cousin, as well as more cautious. Despite the deadly rivalry between them, he files through Palamon’s chains and feeds him so that he will be in good shape to fight each other. He chooses to pray to Mars, the god of War, before his battle with Palamon, and wins the fight. However, he is thrown by his horse, and as he dies admits that since Palamon saw Emilia a few seconds before he did himself, his cousin’s claim is the more valid one.