Bérénice (bay-ray-NEES), the beautiful queen of Palestine, deeply in love with Titus, who has succeeded Vespasian, his father, as emperor of Rome. This love obliterates everything about her and makes her neglectful and unfair in her treatment of Antiochus, the king of Commagene, who also loves her and who seems better fated than Titus to answer her passion. When Titus learns that Bérénice, as empress, would be unacceptable to the people of Rome, he realizes that he cannot tell her the truth. Blaming his father’s death for the delay in announcing his plan to marry her, he asks Antiochus to explain to Bérénice that the emperor is preparing to sacrifice his love out of duty to his people. At first, Bérénice refuses to believe Antiochus, and she accuses him of speaking and acting because of jealousy. In a last interview with Titus, she expresses her anger and despair, but when she is certain that the emperor still loves her, she finds strength enough in her own love to give up all thought of happiness. She asks Antiochus to renounce the love he feels for her as well, and she leaves behind her in Rome the two men whose love she can, in her difficult situation, neither accept nor return.
Titus (tee-TEWS), the emperor of Rome. As a monarch, he is majestic, conscientious, and even clever, but as a man he suffers because of the unhappiness...
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