*Rome. Center of the ancient Roman Empire and principal setting of this play. Cinna mentions “Rome” more than forty times in 1,780 lines of verse, serving to reinforce the ideal of personal responsibility. Scattered mentions of other places recall the huge geographical extent of Emperor Augustus’s realm, including not only Italy and Sicily, but also much of Europe, western Asia, North Africa, and the peoples of Macedonia, Greece, Parthia, and Persia.
Augustus’s palace. Headquarters and residence of Emperor Augustus. The play’s references to the palace supplement the aura of majesty surrounding the personal power of Augustus, among whose courtiers are those whose conspiracy will eventually be uncovered. Almost exactly half the play’s action takes place in Augustus’s apartment. There, references to Rome and the Romans abound and Augustus meets his advisers, who, unknown to him, are conspiring to kill him. His readiness, however, to use his private quarters for the seeking of counsel reveals his essential humanity, a quality prominent in the closing sections of the play.
The rest of the play’s action occurs in the apartment of Amelia, who is engaged to marry Pompey’s grandson Cinna. There, Cinna confronts the realization that unless he kills Augustus, Amelia will not marry him. Just as Augustus’s apartment is the appropriate locus for the political action, Amelia’s apartment locates the sentimental action and foregrounds the growing conflict between Cinna’s personal and political loyalties.
*Tiber River. Italian river running through Rome. The idea of expiating one’s sin by drowning would have been familiar to Corneille’s audience. Maximus, Cinna’s fellow conspirator, who betrays the plot for reasons of base personal jealousy, is reported to have leaped into the Tiber, the river of Imperial Rome.