Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Lazarus of Bethany

Lazarus of Bethany (LA-zuh-ruhs), a man raised from the dead by Jesus. Tall and powerful, Lazarus is about fifty years of age, with graying hair and a heavy beard, as the play begins. Having been freed from the fear of death by the power of the miracle, Lazarus shows this higher awareness by being the only character who wears no mask. He has a broad, noble forehead and deep, black eyes, and he radiates a mystic light. He is also rejuvenated as the play proceeds: When he is taken as a prisoner to Athens some months after the miracle of his resurrection, he appears to be less than thirty-five years old; months later, in Rome, he appears twenty-five. Encountering Caligula and Tiberius Caesar, Lazarus tries in vain to convey to them and to others the message that there is no death. He has a hypnotic, triumphant, infectious laugh that can be seen in his eyes as much as it can be heard in his voice. When he is burned alive at the stake at the end of the play, he is gagged so as to stop the sound of his all-knowing laugh.


Miriam, Lazarus’ wife. She is slender and delicate, and she ages as the play proceeds. Her mask is pale, marblelike, and suggestive of all women. She recognizes the evil in the Roman world and asks Lazarus to take her home to Bethany. Sensing the eventual death of Lazarus in Rome, Miriam begins to mourn the passing of his laughter, which she feels is...

(The entire section is 518 words.)