Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Captain Michales

Captain Michales (meh-KAH-lehs), a Cretan patriot who dies fighting the Turks. Nothing matters to him except liberation of the island. When everyone else abandons the battlefield, he alone fights on, not listening to his wife, daughter, or elders. He is subject to drinking fits during which he commits atrocities against Turkish civilians. In the last moments of his life, raising aloft the severed head of his nephew Kosmas, he roars, “Freedom or—,” but a bullet pierces his brain before he can finish the slogan.

Nuri Bey

Nuri Bey (BAY), the childhood friend and “blood brother” of Michales. He is married to a beautiful and voluptuous woman lusted after by many men, including Michales and Polyxigis. Nuri tries to win back his wife’s affection in various ways. In a show of strength, he kills Michales’ brother Manusakas but receives a knife wound that leaves him sexually impotent for the rest of his life. Demoralized, he wants to die in a fight or in war. When Michales comes to avenge his brother, he finds Nuri in such pathetic condition that he refuses to kill him. Losing this opportunity to die with some semblance of honor, Nuri commits suicide.


Eminé (eh-mee-NAY), the lusty Circassian wife of Nuri. She sings enchanting songs that leave men in rapture. Michales and Captain Polyxigis vie for her affection. She chooses Polyxigis and, after Nuri’s suicide, marries him. She converts to Christianity from her original religion of Islam. Turks, enraged by her objectionable behavior, including marrying a Greek infidel, capture her and plan to make an example of her. Michales...

(The entire section is 689 words.)