Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Romulus Augustus

Romulus Augustus, the emperor of the Western Roman Empire and a chicken breeder. Romulus is an imperturbable man quite capable of focusing his full attention on his breakfast even as the empire collapses around him. At first, he appears to be a humorous fool whose sole interest is his chicken raising. In the course of the play, however, he reveals that his do-nothing attitude has been calculated carefully to destroy an empire that he believes has become tyrannical and corrupt. Rome’s conquest by the Germans is, for him, a just punishment. At the same time, he expects to die in sacrificial atonement for his actions. Ironically, fate intervenes, and he must suffer a humiliating retirement instead.


Odoaker (oh-doh-AY-kur), a Teutonic chieftain, conqueror of the Roman Empire, and chicken breeder. A man very much like Romulus, he had hoped to contain the warlike tendencies of his people by making them subjects of Rome. He views an execution of Romulus as pointless, but he accepts the transfer of power, expecting to rule only a short time before his nephew assassinates him.


Emilian, a Roman patrician and Rea’s fiancé. Captured by the Germans and having spent three years as their prisoner, he is gaunt and pale and shows evidence of having been tortured. He is willing to sacrifice Rea for his country and revolts against the emperor for refusing to act to save Rome. Because of his suffering (caused by Romulus’ action), he is the one person to whom Romulus feels he owes an accounting.


Julia, the emperor’s wife. An ambitious woman who married Romulus so that she would become empress, Julia does not understand his attitude and condemnation...

(The entire section is 741 words.)