Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Medardus (meh-DAHR-dews), a monk. He is put in charge of the relics of his order, which include among them an elixir reputed to cause any who drink it to belong to the devil; if two people should taste the potion, they would be as one in thought and desire while secretly wishing to destroy each other. Medardus drinks of the elixir and is then confronted with all the devices of the powers of darkness, which weave about him a web of falsehoods, murders, mistaken identities, and madness until he recovers and is purged of his guilt. He is then asked by Father Spiridion, the monastery librarian, to put his life story in writing.

Count Victorin

Count Victorin, Medardus’ brother, who has also drunk of the devil’s elixir. Unknown to each other as brothers, the two resemble each other and have the same desires. In one guise or another, each tries continually to destroy the other.


Aurelia (ah-ew-REH-lee-ah), a young noblewoman loved by Medardus but claimed by Victorin as his intended bride. She is killed by Victorin as she is taking her vows as a nun.


Hermogen (EHR-moh-jehn), Aurelia’s brother, killed by Medardus.

Baron von F——

Baron von F——, the father of Aurelia and Hermogen.


Euphemia (ew-FEH-mee-ah), Baron von F——’s sinister wife, engaged in an affair with Victorin.

Pietro Belcampo

Pietro Belcampo (pee-EH-troh behl-KAHM-poh), a hairdresser and Medardus’ benefactor.


Francesco (frahn-CHEHS-koh), a painter revealed as Medardus’ father.


Leonardus (leh-oh-NAHR-dews), a prior and Medardus’ spiritual adviser, from whom he receives forgiveness for his crimes.


Reinhold, an old man at Baron von F——’s castle.

Prince von Rosenthurm

Prince von Rosenthurm, at whose castle Medardus learns that Francesco is his father.

The duke of Neuenburg

The duke of Neuenburg, the prince’s brother, murdered on his wedding night.

Father Spiridion

Father Spiridion (spee-REE-dee-ohn), the librarian of the Capuchin monastery at Konigswald.