Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Petronius (peh-TROH-nee-uhs), a wealthy Roman patrician who, because of his knowledge of poetry and music, has great influence over Nero. His discriminating taste wins him the title of arbiter of elegance, and he is highly regarded throughout Rome. Petronius tries to help his nephew, Vinitius, win the love of Lygia by having her removed from the home of her foster parents to Nero’s palace. Learning that Nero has ordered his death, Petronius commits suicide by bleeding.

Marcus Vinitius

Marcus Vinitius (MAHR-kuhs vih-NIH-shi-uhs), the nephew of Petronius. A soldier recently on military service abroad, he returns to Rome, where he falls in love with Lygia. After Lygia has been removed to the palace of Nero, Vinitius sees her at a banquet and tries to force his attentions on her. His efforts frighten Lygia, who flees, and Vinitius begins a search for her.

Aulus Plautius

Aulus Plautius (A-luhs PLOH-shee-uhs), an old soldier who had taken part in the conquest of Britain. Lygia is his foster daughter. When she is taken from his house at Nero’s command, he tries to have her returned.

Pomponia Graecina

Pomponia Graecina (pom-POH-nee-uh gree-SI-nuh), the wife of Aulus Plautius and the foster mother of Lygia. Pomponia, a Christian, has taught Lygia her faith.


Lygia (LIH-jee-uh), the daughter of a barbarian king. After her father’s defeat, she was sent as hostage to Rome, where she became the foster daughter of a noble Roman family and was converted to Christianity. When she flees from Nero’s palace, she goes to live in a community of Christians. After Vinitius locates her, she falls in love with him; through her influence, he too becomes a Christian. When Nero starts his persecutions of Christians, Lygia...

(The entire section is 856 words.)