(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed


Chrysanteus (krih-SAHN-tee-uhs), an archon of Athens and its richest citizen. A pagan, he believes in Plato’s philosophy of moderation and reason, as opposed to the Christian philosophy. He is forced to flee to the mountains and there is killed by the forces of Domitius.


Hermione (hur-MI-oh-nee), Chrysanteus’ daughter and also a believer in the pagan philosophy. She is captured by Domitius’ forces and is forcibly baptized a Christian. Rather than live under these conditions, she kills herself.


Peter, bishop of Athens. He is a sworn enemy of Chrysanteus and also of the Athanasian Christians. He connives to obtain Chrysanteus’ wealth in order to buy the bishopric of Rome. He is poisoned by his fellow priests on orders of the Athanasians.


Charmides (KAHR-mih-deez), Hermione’s betrothed. He is used by Bishop Peter in his fight against paganism and Chrysanteus. He is killed by a young Jew who discovers that Charmides has seduced his betrothed, the daughter of a Jew to whom Charmides owed a large amount of money.


Clemens (KLEH-mehns), Chrysanteus’ long-lost son, who was reared as a Christian. He is returned to his father’s pagan household but is so fanatic a Christian that he leaves and becomes a hermit, living in a cave outside Athens.

Annaeus Domitius

Annaeus Domitius (a-NEE-uhs doh-MIH-see-uhs), the Roman proconsul in Athens, who tries to keep to a middle-of-the road policy and not sympathize with any of the religious factions in the city.