(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed


Domitian (duh-MIHSH-ee-ehn), the emperor of Rome. Cruel and self-indulgent, and convinced of his own godhood, he has no fear of the laws of the gods or men. Infatuated with Domitia, he forces her husband to divorce her, then has him killed. He is shaken when two stoic senators scorn his tortures and die calmly. In his own mind, he performs a kindness by killing the actor, Paris, while taking part with him in a play, rather than having him executed. Eventually, he gathers the nerve to have his faithless wife killed, but he is assassinated before he can have his sentence executed.


Domitia (duh-MIHSH-ee-uh), the beautiful and ambitious wife of Aelius Lamia. Willingly divorcing her husband, she uses the emperor’s power to dominate the noblewomen. Becoming madly infatuated with the handsome actor, Paris, she indiscreetly orders him to a private meeting and attempts to seduce him. The emperor surprises them together, but Domitia’s voluptuous power over him keeps him from killing her. After the emperor kills Paris, her hatred leads her to join the conspirators. She is sentenced to death by the Tribunes after Domitian is killed.


Paris, the Roman actor. A dignified defender of the stage and a loyal servant of the emperor, he has political enemies. Domitia’s infatuation destroys him. He acts...

(The entire section is 506 words.)