Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 187
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro) (VUR-gihl; PEWB-lee-us vur-JIH-lee-uhs may-roh), the dying Roman poet who, returning to Rome with Augustus Caesar, takes a long look into his own soul and sees his life as hypocrisy. In his devotion to poetry, he has denied love and has thus served death rather than life. He insists that his Aeneid, because it lacks this perception, should be destroyed, but he finally agrees to preserve the poem at Augustus’ bidding. Knowing, at the last, the salvation that is self-knowledge, the poet dies.
Plotia Hieria (PLOH-shee-uh hih-OO-ree-uh), a woman whose love Virgil had renounced long ago. She appears to the dying poet in the visionary world of his hallucinations and beckons him on to the renunciation of poetry for love.
Augustus Caesar (oh-GUHS-tuhs SEE-zur), emperor of Rome, whose glory is revealed to the dying Virgil as a hollow majesty. The emperor persuades the poet not to destroy the Aeneid, because the poem’s true owner is the Roman people.
Lysanias (lih-SA-nee-uhs), a young boy who attends the dying Virgil, sometimes in reality, sometimes in the poet’s hallucinations.
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