Vittoria Corombona (veet-TOH-ree-ah koh-rohm-BOH-nah), the brilliant and beautiful wife of an elderly Florentine official. She becomes the mistress and later the bride of Paulo Giordano Ursini, the duke of Brachiano. She is a woman of tremendous courage and willpower and makes an eloquent and impassioned defense of her honor against the malicious but essentially just accusations of Duke Francisco de Medicis and Cardinal Monticelso. She dies with the same intensity with which she lived, refusing to weep but recognizing in her last moments the depths to which her career has brought her: “My soul, like to a ship in a black storm, is driven, I know not whither.”
Flamineo (flah-MEE-nee-oh), her brother, an ironic commentator on his own life and the society in which he moves. He strives for worldly success without scruple, playing pander for his sister, murdering her husband to win favor with his master, Duke Brachiano, and finally killing his own brother in a hasty quarrel. There are in him, however, lingering traces of humanity that make him compassionate at the sight of his mother beside the body of Marcello. He remains an opportunist to the end and dies with an ironic jest on his lips.
The duke of Brachiano
The duke of Brachiano (brah-KEE-ah-noh), Vittoria’s lover, whose desire for her outweighs every moral consideration. He brutally repudiates his duchess and has both her and Vittoria’s husband murdered to make himself free to marry his glamorous mistress. His crimes haunt him in the form of apparitions as he lies dying from Lodovico’s poison.
(The entire section is 754 words.)