Donatello, in reality the Count of Monte Beni, at first a naïve young man who seems to be almost dim-witted, with little formal education and almost no intellectual, moral, or emotional depth. He appears almost a creature out of the mythical past, a faun out of his time and place associating with the painters and sculptors of an artists’ colony in nineteenth century Rome. Feeling a kinship with nature and its inhabitants, he is truly happy only in the woods and gardens. He falls in love with Miriam Schaefer, a beautiful but mysterious young painter. One night, at her unspoken behest, Donatello murders a man. This crime brings about a change in the young Italian nobleman, who for a time retires to his ancestral home in Tuscany. He finds that he is no longer akin to nature, but in exchange for this loss, he acquires new depth of soul under the torment of his crime and awakes to moral values. In the garb of a penitent, he returns to Rome, where he is reunited briefly with his beloved during the carnival season. At the end of that time, he is seized by the authorities and imprisoned.
Miriam Schaefer, an exotically beautiful young woman of wealth who appears mysteriously among the people of an artist colony in Rome. She is also a painter, and her life is haunted by a man who appears to be an artist’s model. He seems to have a strange hold over the girl and causes her great uneasiness. Miriam’s lover, Donatello, rids her of the presence of this troublesome man by throwing him from the famous Tarpeian Rock. Because her eyes had commanded Donatello to commit the crime,...
(The entire section is 675 words.)