Characters Discussed

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Samuele, a young American writer and student introduced to the members of the Cabala, a group of wealthy, clever, esoterics in Rome. He becomes involved in many of their varied activities and learns that the Cabalists are the ancient pagan gods, who have become victims of their human-like frailties.

James Blair

James Blair, a bookish man and friend of Samuele, who introduces his friend to the Cabala. Blair is upset when one of the Cabalists, Alix d’Espoli, falls in love with him and haunts his presence.

The Duchess d’Aquilanera

The Duchess d’Aquilanera, an Italian noblewoman and a Cabalist. She is a loving mother and is disturbed by the wildness of her teen-age son, Marcantonio.

Marcantonio d’Aquilanera

Marcantonio d’Aquilanera, son of the Duchess. He is a youth of sixteen who already has had a series of love affairs, conduct that threatens to spoil his chances of a good marriage. He loves to drive his expensive cars at high speed, just as he drives himself. Denounced for his immorality by Samuele, Marcantonio commits suicide.

Cardinal Vaini

Cardinal Vaini, a former missionary to China. Though a Cardinal, he speaks derisively of prayer. After having been shot at by a religious fanatic, he resolves to return to China, only to die of a fever en route.

Astrée-Luce de Morfontaine

Astrée-Luce de Morfontaine, a religous fanatic whose faith is shaken by Cardinal Vaini’s comments. She accuses him of being the devil and tries to kill him with a pistol.

Alix d’Espoli

Alix d’Espoli, an Italian princess, a Cabalist. She falls in love with Blair and makes him miserable by pursuing him. Though unintelligent, she appeals to many people because of her charm and beauty.

Elizabeth Grier

Elizabeth Grier, an American girl who is a member of the Cabala. She reveals to Samuele that the Cabalists are really ancient gods and goddesses. She disturbs Samuele by saying that he is the pagan Mercury.


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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 145

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Critical Essays