Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Polyeucte (paw-lee-UHK-tee), an Armenian nobleman who is married to Pauline. Returning from a secret mission on which he has received Christian baptism, he is ordered by the Roman governor, Félix, to attend the temple sacrifices. As a traitor to the Roman gods, he is condemned to die. To those who plead with him to recant and save his life, he answers that he is through with mortal ties, and he goes to his death undismayed.


Pauline, the daughter of the Roman governor and Polyeucte’s wife. When her Christian husband is condemned to death for his defilement of the Roman gods, she pleads with him to save his life by privately worshiping his God while publicly paying homage to the Roman gods. Her pleas fail, and Polyeucte goes to his death. At his execution, she feels a veil lifted from her eyes and declares herself a Christian prepared to die for her faith.


Sévère (say-VEHR), a Roman warrior. In love with Pauline before her marriage to Polyeucte, he comes as a hero to Armenia ostensibly to make sacrifices of thanksgiving for victories in war; in reality, he has come to see Pauline, whom he still loves. Finding her faithful to her husband, he bids her farewell. He is later asked by Pauline to plead for Polyeucte, who is condemned to die as a Christian. Inspired by what he considers the miraculous conversions of Pauline and Félix after Polyeucte’s death, he promises to beg Emperor Décie for freedom of worship for all.


Félix (FAY-lihks), the Roman governor of Armenia and Pauline’s father. He condemns Polyeucte to death for defilement of the Roman gods. After the victim’s execution, Félix himself is suddenly converted to Christianity.


Néarque (NAY-ahrk), Polyeucte’s friend.


Stratonice (stra-toh-NIH-chay), Pauline’s friend.


Albin (AHL-bihn), Félix’s friend.


Décie (DAY-chee-eh), the emperor of Rome.