Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama (VAHS-koh dah GAH-mah), a Portuguese sailor and explorer. He is chosen to head the expedition that first rounds Africa’s Cape of Good Hope to find a sea route to Asia.


Jove (johv), the chief of the gods. He announces that the Fates have decreed that the Portuguese expedition shall succeed in its mission.


Venus, a goddess friendly to the Portuguese. She takes their side against Bacchus and helps them in their adventures. She saves them from storms and ambushes and provides them with a resting place on their way home. She gives da Gama a vision of Portugal’s future greatness.


Mars, a god who sides with Venus on the side of the Portuguese.


Bacchus (BAK-uhs), the patron god of Asia. He tries to prevent the Portuguese from success in their expedition. He enlists the aid of Neptune in his efforts against them.


Veloso (veh-LOH-soh), one of da Gama’s men. He explores part of Africa before rejoining the expedition.

The Spirit of the Cape of Good Hope

The Spirit of the Cape of Good Hope, who appears to da Gama. The spirit says he was once a Titan named Adamastor. He has been made into a range of mountains forming the Cape of Good Hope for his pursuit of a nymph.

The king of Mombassa

The king of Mombassa, an African monarch to whom da Gama relates his adventures and the history of Portugal up to that time.

The emperor of Malabar

The emperor of Malabar, an Asiatic monarch who welcomes the Portuguese to Asia and arranges for them to trade their goods for spices and other Oriental products.


Mercury, a god who guides the Portuguese to Mombassa.


Neptune, the god of the sea who, at the request of Bacchus, sends storms to destroy the ships of the Portuguese. Venus saves the ships.