Tito Melema (TEE-toh meh-LEH-mah), an adventurer and pleasure-seeking young Greek who arrives in Florence in 1492. He quickly acquires a fortune through his talents, his charm, and the fact that he sells a number of gems that rightfully belong to his benefactor, Baldassare Calvo. He impresses the famous blind scholar, Bardo, so much that the latter willingly gives his daughter to Tito for a wife. At the same time, Tito is connected with a peasant woman with whom he has made a mock marriage in a carnival ceremony. Becoming powerful in Florentine politics, he carefully avoids aligning himself with either the Medici or the reformer, Savonarola. Because of his double dealing, he is both personally and politically discredited. He is chased by a mob and then strangled by Baldassare Calvo, the benefactor whom Tito had deceived, stolen from, and left confined in prison.
Romola de’ Bardi
Romola de’ Bardi, Bardo’s daughter and Tito’s wife. A sheltered young woman, she easily falls in love with handsome, charming Tito. Disillusioned when Tito attempts to sell her father’s library and antiquities, she leaves him, but Savonarola convinces her that her duty is to return to her husband. At first, she is strongly attracted to Savonarola’s moral reforms. Later, when her godfather, a supporter of the Medici, is executed, she loses faith in the evangelical government. She also discovers that her husband has betrayed Baldassare Calvo and that he has been keeping a peasant woman named Tessa and her two children. Saddened, she leaves Florence and goes to Viareggio. After Tito’s death, she returns and makes a home for Tessa and Tito’s two children.
Bardo de’ Bardi
Bardo de’ Bardi, Romola’s father, a famous scholar to whom she is devoted. Deceived by his secretary’s knowledge, charm, and apparent interest in scholarly studies, he encourages the marriage of Tito and his daughter; he regards Tito as a substitute for the lost son he believes dead, a young man who abandoned scholarship for mysticism. Bardo dies in 1494, before Tito’s crimes are revealed.
Baldassare Calvo (BAHL-dahs-SAH-reh), Tito Melema’s scholarly foster father and benefactor. He had given Tito some gems to sell in Florence, to raise money to ransom Baldassare from the Turks. Tito uses the gems to advance his own fortune and tries to forget Baldassare entirely. When Baldassare is brought, as a prisoner, to Florence, Tito rejects him. After a mob frees him from his fetters, Baldassare encounters Tessa and realizes her connection with Tito. By this time, Baldassare’s desire for revenge on Tito is implacable. He later denounces Tito’s deceitful ingratitude at a dinner party of the rulers of Florence, but Tito calls him mad and has him cast into prison. Released, Baldassare tells Romola the whole...
(The entire section is 1234 words.)