Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Britannicus (brih-TA-nih-kuhs), the son of the dead Emperor Claudius. Used as the proving ground in the contest for power between Emperor Néron and Agrippine, he is finally poisoned in the struggle. His murder sets the pattern for the remainder of Néron’s reign.


Agrippine (a-gree-PEEN), the widow of Emperor Claudius and mother of Emperor Néron. She wins the throne for her son; then, dominated by her lust for power, she attempts to continue her dominion over him. Fearing the diminution of her influence, she plots to replace Néron with Britannicus. Néron’s violent reaction against her causes his first crime, the poisoning of Britannicus, and sets the direction of his destiny.


Néron (nay-ROH[N]), Agrippine’s son and the emperor of Rome. Impatient under the yoke of his mother’s domination, he learns of her plan to place Britannicus on the throne in his stead and commits the first of his many crimes, the murder of the would-be usurper.


Junie (zhew-NEE), Britannicus’ betrothed, abducted by Néron, who falls in love with her and plans to divorce his wife in her favor. Junie remains faithful to Britannicus and becomes a priestess of Vesta after his death.


Narcisse (nahr-SEES), Britannicus’ tutor, an opportunist who works on Néron’s baser instincts.


Burrhus (BUR-uhs), Néron’s tutor, who tries to emphasize the better elements in the emperor’s character.


Albina (ahl-bee-NAH), a confidante of Agrippine.


Pallas (PA-luhs), a freedman, a friend and adviser to Agrippine.


Octavia (ohk-tah-VYAH), Néron’s wife.