Ben Jonson

POETASTER, or
THE ARRAIGNMENT

1601

a synoptic, alphabetical character list

ACCIUS

Only mentioned. Lucius Accius (170–86 BC) was a Roman tragic poet, born at Pisarium in Umbria. He was a prolific writer and enjoyed a very high reputation, according to Horace (Epistles, ii, I). The titles and considerable fragments of some fifty plays have been preserved. Accius wrote other works of a literary character, Didascalion and Pragmaticon Libri, treatises in verse on the history of Greek and Roman poetry, and dramatic art in particular. He also introduced innovations in orthography and grammar. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that Accius will live forever through his verses. Though Ovid describes Accius's poetry as high-reared and strained, he still thinks that it will gain fresh applause in every age.

ACHATES

Only mentioned. In Roman mythology, Achates was the constant companion of the Trojan hero Aeneas in his wanderings after his flight from Troy. He typified a faithful friend and companion. Tucca alludes to Crispinus and Demetrius (his Achates) as being inseparable friends. When Lupus falsely accuses Horace of treason before Caesar, Tucca says that Crispinus and Demetrius must enter with Aesop as witnesses. He calls Crispinus a gentleman, who is accompanied by his Achates, thus naming Demetrius as Crispinus's faithful friend.

AENOBARBUS

A "ghost character." Aenobarbus is a fiddler in Histrio's troupe. When Tucca invites himself for supper at Histrio's expense, he tells the player not to bring Aenobarbus, the out-of-tune fiddler, with him. Probably Tucca means that the player's bad music would spoil his appetite.

AESCULAPIUS

Only mentioned. Aesculapius was the son of Apollo and Coronis, the daughter of a Thessalian king. He was committed to the care of the wise Centaur, Chiron, who taught him botany, together with the secret efficacy of plants. By means of this information, Aesculapius became the benefactor of humanity and the father of medicine. When Horace suggests that Crispinus should be given an emetic to throw up all his bad words, Caesar agrees, telling Horace to be Crispinus's Aesculapius, his doctor.

AESOP

Aesop is an actor playing the politician in Histrio's troupe, and a mute character. When Tucca invites himself for supper at Histrio's expense, he tells the player not to bring Aesop the politician, unless he can ram up his mouth with cloves. Tucca says the player smells ranker than some sixteen dunghills, and is seventeen times more rotten. When Lupus charges Horace with treason before Caesar, on account of an engraving representing an eagle, Horace defends himself and explains that the drawing represents a vulture and a wolf preying on the carcass of an ass. Seeing that the charges are turned against him, Lupus blames Aesop the player, who first suggested the idea to him. Caesar orders Aesop to be brought in, and he enters with Crispinus and Demetrius. It seems that Aesop is mute with fear and says nothing in his defense. Caesar orders that Aesop should be whipped, and Lictors take Aesop and the banished Lupus away.

AGAMEMNON

Only mentioned. Agamemnon, also called Atrides, is a hero in the Iliad. Arrogant and often selfish, Agamemnon provides the Achaeans with strong but sometime heedless and self-deserving leadership. When Tucca enters Albius's house as the jeweler's guest, he calls Albius Agamemnon, probably alluding flatteringly to his leading role among the citizens of Rome. However, since the legend says that Agamemnon's wife, Clythemnestra, viciously murdered her husband on his return from the Trojan War in order to continue her relationship with his brother, the allusion may have subtle connotations related to ChloŽ's infidelity.

AGRIPPA

A "fictional character." Agrippa is Tucca's supposed debtor. While Tucca is trying to extort some money from Ovid Senior, Pyrgus enters and says that Agrippa asks Tucca to forbear his debt till the next week. Actually, this is a ruse devised by Tucca to show Ovid Senior and Lupus that he expects some money from an incoming debt, but he needs a loan in the meantime. Agrippa is a character invented by Tucca when he needs to pull up a situation of incoming money.

ALBIUS

Albius is a jeweler in Rome. He facilitates an encounter between Julia and Ovid in his house. Albius welcomes Crispinus at his house. ChloŽ enters, showing contempt for her husband, while he showers her with compliments and sweet talk. Albius exits, letting Crispinus observe ChloŽ, because the jeweler had commissioned a poem about his wife. Albius re-enters several times, and finally announces the arrival of important guests. Ovid, Cornelius Gallus, Tibullus, Propertius, Hermogenes, Julia, and Plautia enter, apparently visiting to congratulate the host on the good report they have of him. Albius soon makes himself scarce, calling his wife out on some household pretext. Albius re-enters to invite the guests to the banquet. When his guests depart for the banquet hall, Albius remains to praise his social life and the benefits of having fine guests and a refined wife. At his house, Albius enters introducing Crispinus and Demetrius, followed by Tucca, to the assembly of poets. Crispinus sings a love ditty before the poets and Albius says proudly that the song is dedicated to his wife. Albius shows Gallus the written text, and thus the poets notice that the entire poem was plagiarized from Horace. Albius exits with the poets' party to the carnival at court. Disguised as Vulcan, Albius enters an apartment in the Palace together with the entire party of poets and their ladies, each characteristically dressed as gods and goddesses. All the masks play their assigned roles. When the angry Caesar enters and interrupts the revelry, Albius and his wife adopt a humble attitude. Albius explains that he is a citizen and a jeweler and exits with ChloŽ.

ALCIBIADES

Only mentioned. Alcibiades (450–404 BC) was raised by the statesman Pericles. As a youth, he seemed inspired by the integrity of Socrates, but soon he turned away from his example to pursue his personal goals. When Socrates was tried and convicted for corrupting the young men of Athens, it is possible that the example of Alcibiades was on the minds of the judges. Intelligent, handsome, and charming, Alcibiades was an outstanding politician and a brilliant general. Yet, he was motivated entirely by personal ambition and his loyalties were determined by expediency. Lupus confirms Ovid Senior's advice to his son that he should study law instead of writing poetry. Lupus looks at the benefits of the lawyers' profession from the politicians' side, saying that, as a lawyer, Ovid could enjoy the power of doing right and wrong at his pleasure. Lupus calls Ovid "my pretty Alcibiades," an allusion to the potentially manipulative political power wielded by a young man with no scruples.

APOLLO

Apollo figures twice in the play.
  • Gallus is disguised as Apollo at the masquerade banquet at court. Apollo is the Greek name of the god of music and poetry, corresponding to Phoebus in Roman mythology. Gallus's disguise as Apollo probably alludes to his essential role among the poets of Rome. When Albius/Vulcan tries to placate the pretended dissension between Ovid/Jupiter and Julia/Juno, Gallus/Apollo commends Vulcan's intervention and orders music to sound, because a song can startle people's spirits. When Caesar enters and rails at the debauched party banishing Ovid, it is understood that Gallus/Apollo sheds his disguise as the god of music and poetry and is forced to face the harsh reality of disgrace.
  • The god is only mentioned. In Greek mythology, Phoebus (the bright) was the name given to the sun god Apollo and, also, poetically, to the sun. Apollo was also the god of song, music, and poetry. He charmed the gods with his playing at the banquets on Mount Olympus and was crowned with myrtle leaves. When Ovid meditates on the immortality of poetry, he expresses his wish to serve bright Phoebus eternally and fill his cups from the Muses' fountain. As a poet, Ovid wants to be crowned with myrtle and his poetry to be read by sad lovers. When Horace wants to disentangle himself from Crispinus's irritating and impudent conversation, Horace invokes Phoebus, the archer of heaven, to take his bow and nail to earth this Python. The legend says that one of the earliest deeds of young Phoebus Apollo was the slaying of the deadly serpent Python, which lived in the hills near Delphi. Apollo used one of his golden arrows to kill the serpent. By Comparing the poetaster to the serpent Python, Horace alludes to Crispinus's deceitfulness, loquacity and impertinence.

ARION

Only mentioned. Arion was another musician at the court of Periander, king of Corinth. He went to a musical contest to Sicily and, after winning the contest, embarked on a Corinthian ship for home. The seamen plotted to seize his treasure and wanted to take his life. Arion was granted his last request, to die singing as a musician, and he leapt onto the sea. While he struggled on the waves, a dolphin carried him on his back safely to the Corinthian shore. Spencer represents Arion, mounted on his dolphin, accompanying the train of Neptune and Amphitrite. When Tucca listens to Crispinus's song, apparently dedicated to ChloŽ, he calls the poetaster an Arion riding on the back of a dolphin. By referring to Crispinus as another Arion, Tucca wants to impress upon his audience the poetaster's apparent artistic qualities.

ARISTIUS

Fuscus Aristius is a friend of Horace. He addressed an ode and an epistle to him. The mischievous character may be a stage representation of Thomas Nashe. On the Via Sacra in Rome, Aristius enters while Horace is trying to disentangle himself from Crispinus's tedious and exasperating conversation. After hearing Horace's complaint and his plea for help, Aristius says he will help him, but he adds in an aside that he must tell Maecenas first. Aristius exits, leaving Horace to lament his unfortunate situation.

AUTHOR

Ben Jonson, the play's author, addresses the reader in lieu of Epilogue, telling them that an apologetic dialogue follows. According to Author, it was only once spoken on stage and it comes as an answer to the defamation against him and his play. Author wishes that posterity made a difference between his detractors' manners and feels it is dignified to neglect such unjust accusations. Since he affirms that, in matters of literary conflicts, it is not advisable either to affect victory or to be committed with the detractors, Author recommends the apologetic dialogue by way of answer to his critics. The dialogue is between Author, Nastus, and Polyposus. In his study, Author muses about the unfair detractions and how they do not affect him. Polyposus brings the critics' arguments, stating that they interpreted the play as exposing public figures to ridicule, each by their particular names. Author protests, saying that he never used any names, because his intention was to spare the persons and expose the vices. Author says that he chose Augustus Caesar's time to show that Virgil, Horace, and all the great spirits of that time did not need any detractors to speak against them. Author hoped that, by seeing themselves ridiculed in the play, the detractors might at least sit down and blush. However, they were provoked, like angry wasps, and started flying about his nostrils. Then, Author recites an epigram dedicated to the soldiers, saying that he respects the soldiers' profession, and he taxed only the offenders. Author concludes he will not answer the libels, because those who slander will be punished by their own deeds. When Polyposus conveys the critics' objection, namely that Author is too slow and scarcely writes a play a year, Author says he prefers to take time over a good play, and he will try a tragedy instead of a comedy. Author tells Nastus and Polyposus to leave him because he has a sudden jolt of inspiration and wants to do some writing.

BACCHUS

Bacchus figures twice in the play.
  • Tibullus is disguised as Bacchus at the masquerade banquet at court. Tibullus/Bacchus enters with Ovid's party and takes part in the revelry presided by Ovid/Jupiter. When the master of the gods pretends to court ChloŽ/Venus, in order to make Julia/Juno jealous, Tibullus/Bacchus observes that Tucca/Mars is very angry. When everybody asks for a song, Tibullus/Bacchus inquires for the opinion of his mistress, Plautia/Ceres. When she consents, Tibullus/Bacchus invites Albius/Vulcan to sing a song. When Caesar enters, railing against the debauched party and banishing Ovid, it is understood that Tibullus, like the other poets, sheds off his revelry role and shares Ovid's disgrace.
  • Only mentioned. On the Via sacra in Rome, Tucca manages to save Crispinus from being arrested for debt. Moreover, he manages to make the gullible Minos pay for a fictional play-writing enterprise, commissioning Crispinus to write a play against Horace. Satisfied with himself, Tucca invites everyone to make peace, take their hands, and honor the gods sometimes. The gods Tucca proposes to be honored are Bacchus, Comus, and Priapus, who patronize alcoholism, debauchery, and sexual excess. In Roman mythology, Bacchus is the god of wine, counterpart of Dionysius. He was one of the most worshipped gods of Greek mythology. At first, he was only the god of wine. Later, Bacchus became the god of vegetation and warm moisture. Still later, he was the god of pleasures and of civilization.

BOLANUS

Only mentioned. Bolanus is a fictitious semi-historical character in Horace, such as Canidia, Pantolabus, Persius, and Scaeva. When he complains of Crispinus's company, Horace says that bold Bolanus, if accosted by such a fellow, would not have hesitated to call him a fool and joke at his expense. In Horace's opinion, such a rude treatment would have discouraged the impertinent poetaster, sending him away. Unlike Bolanus, Horace laments, his tame modesty prevents him from behaving rudely to Crispinus, and so he must bear his insolence.

CAESAR, AUGUSTUS

Augustus Caesar is the emperor of Rome. Caesar enters an apartment in the palace, where the poets are entertaining his daughter, Julia, disguised as Juno, in a game of licentious revelry, in which Ovid plays Jupiter. On seeing the debauched masquerade, the angry Caesar wants to kill his daughter, but then decides to exile Ovid and sentence Julia to confinement. Railing against the vice overpowering Rome, Caesar exits followed by his train. Caesar enters an apartment in the palace, followed by Maecenas, Gallus, Tibullus, Horace, and guards. Caesar announces he has pardoned Gallus and Tibullus and acknowledges the contribution of poetry to the fashioning of cultural values in Rome. Virgil is announced and, ascertaining that the other poets, including Horace, are not envious of Virgil, Caesar requests a reading from the Aeneid by the author. While Virgil is reading, Lupus makes a sudden entrance. At first, Caesar does not want to receive the tribune, whom he considers a detractor, but, hearing that he brings information concerning an attempted plot on Caesar's life, the emperor accepts to let him in. Lupus enters with Tucca, charging Horace with treason. Horace exculpates himself and manages to turn the charges against Lupus, who, in his turn, lays the blame on Aesop, the actor. When Aesop enters, followed by Crispinus and Demetrius, Caesar orders the player to be whipped and Lupus banished for his asinine credulity. Then, Caesar orders Horace to charge Crispinus and Demetrius with calumny and plagiarism. After the trial, the poetaster and the playwright are found guilty, and Caesar orders that Tucca should be gagged and taken away, so that he might not be able to slander anyone. When the detractors are punished, Caesar concludes that jangling rhymers should not disturb the great poets of Rome. Caesar exits with his train of poets, who praise his generosity and justice.

CALLIMACHUS

Only mentioned. Callimachus was a third-century BC Greek lyric poet, born in Cyrene. Credited with some 800 works, including Actia, a collection of legends, Callimachus worked as a schoolmaster and as chief of Alexandrian Library. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that Callimachus will live forever through his verses. Though Callimachus's invention is lower than that of the great Greek poets Homer and Hesiod, Ovid says, still his verses will be sung forever because they represent the immortality of art. When Tucca wants to show Ovid Senior that he is trying to persuade Ovid to give up poetry and study law, he calls the poet ironically Callimachus, telling him he must leave these poets because they are poor starved rascals, the very emblems of beggary. At the end of the play, after Virgil has Crispinus take an emetic and throw up all his bad words, he then prescribes a long-term cure. Virgil advises Crispinus to observe a strict and wholesome diet. Virgil suggests that Crispinus should read, with a tutor, the best Greek authors, among whom Virgil mentions Callimachus.

CANIDIA

Only mentioned. Canidia is a witch's name in Horace (Epodes iii, 8; v.15 and 48; xii, 6 and Satires I). Epode v has the longest passage devoted to Canidia, who prays to Night and Diana. Canidia is a fictitious semi-historical character in Horace, such as Bolanus, Pantolabus, Persius, and Scaeva. Horace represents Canidia parodically. After Crispinus sings his love verses, apparently dedicated to his muse, ChloŽ, Gallus asks to see the written text. Gallus reads that the verses are dedicated "to his bright mistress Canidia," and observes that this is the name of Horace's witch. Thus, the poets discover that Crispinus's love ditty is plagiarized from Horace. The poets are furious at the poetaster's impudence, but Tucca and Demetrius take Crispinus's side.

CATO the ELDER

Only mentioned. Marcus Porcius Cato (Cato the Elder) was a Roman politician, orator, writer, and defender of conservative Roman Republican ideas, who lived between 234 and 149 BC. He was born into a wealthy family of Roman landholders during the early Republican period on a farm in the city of Tusculum. His early farm upbringing resulted in a lifelong interest in agriculture and the writing of his De Agri Cultura, which is the oldest Latin literary encyclopedia in existence today. His conservative views of traditional Roman Republican culture and the importance of the development of Latin literature and its survival as a written language resulted in his fear and dislike of the increasing Greek influence on the Romans. Cato helped insure the survival of Latin by being the first to write an encyclopedic history of Rome in Latin called Origins, of which only small fragments survive. After Virgil has Crispinus take an emetic to throw up his bad words he then prescribes Crispinus to observe a strict and wholesome diet, taking each morning a dose of Old Cato's principles next to his heart.

CERES

Plautia is disguised as Ceres at the masquerade banquet at court. Ceres is the Roman counterpart of the Greek goddess of agriculture and marriage, one of the twelve major gods in mythology. During the entertainment presided by Ovid/Jupiter, Plautia/Ceres does not speak, but it is understood she enjoys the revelry. When Caesar enters and rails at the debauched party and banishes Ovid, it is understood that Plautia shares the fate of Julia and the other ladies. They are silent and subdued.

CHLOň

ChloŽ is Albius's wife. At Albius's house in Rome, ChloŽ enters with two maids, bringing flowers and perfumes to the guests. ChloŽ feels she is above her husband in social status and she wants to mimic the manners at court. When Crispinus enters, apparently to study her and then dedicate her a poem commissioned by Albius, ChloŽ seems to find affinities with the poetaster. Albius announces the arrival of important guests and the poets of Ovid's circle and their mistresses enter. During the conversation, ChloŽ does not notice that her notable guests flatter her only because they want to meet in her house. After light conversation and some musical entertainment, ChloŽ and the guests go to the banquet hall. At Albius's house, ChloŽ enters with Cytheris, fully dressed for a masquerade ball at court. Gallus and Tibullus enter, prepared to escort the ladies to court in Princess Julia's coach. ChloŽ is disguised as Venus at the carnival. After Crispinus sings a poem dedicated to ChloŽ as Canidia, which is plagiarized from Horace, ChloŽ exits with the poets' party, eager to attend the ball at court. Disguised as Venus, ChloŽ enters an apartment in the Palace together with the entire party of poets and their ladies, each characteristically dressed as gods and goddesses. All the masks play their assigned roles. During the party, ChloŽ/Venus does not speak but Tucca/Mars courts her insistently. When the angry Caesar enters and interrupts the revelry, ChloŽ adopts a humble attitude, explains that she is only a jeweler's wife and exits with Albius.

COMUS

Only mentioned. On the Via sacra in Rome, Tucca manages to save Crispinus from being arrested for debt. Moreover, he manages to make the gullible Minos pay for a fictional play-writing enterprise, commissioning Crispinus to write a play against Horace. Satisfied with himself, Tucca invites everyone to make peace, take their hands, and honor the gods sometimes. The gods Tucca proposes to be honored are Bacchus, Comus, and Priapus, who patronize alcoholism, debauchery, and sexual excess. In late Greek mythology, Comus was the god of revelry, son of Circe and Bacchus.

CORINNA

Corinna is the poetic name Ovid gives Julia in his verses. Ovid dedicated his love elegies to her under this name. Tibullus and the other poets discover that Crispinus plagiarized his love elegy dedicated to ChloŽ as Canidia from Horace. Crispinus protests, saying that Canidia is just a borrowed poetic pen name, such as Corinna for Ovid, Cynthia for Propertius or, Delia for Tibullus.

COURTIER

A "fictional character." The Courtier ridiculed in the players' comedies. When Ovid Senior is displeased at his son's preference for poetry, and Luscus says that players are annoying because they lampoon politicians in their comedies, Tucca brings an additional comment. As if speaking from personal experience, Tucca says that a courtier cannot kiss his mistress's slippers in quiet before being the object of ridicule in the comedies.

CRISPINUS, RUFUS LABERIUS

Rufus Laberius Crispinus is the offending poetaster in Rome. Probably Jonson modeled him to lampoon his fellow playwright, John Marston. At Albius's house in Rome, Crispinus enters, apparently to visit his cousin, Cytheris, but actually to study ChloŽ and dedicate her a poem commissioned by Albius. Albius announces the arrival of important guests and the poets and their ladies enter. After light conversation and music, the guests depart for the banquet hall. On the Via Sacra in Rome, Crispinus sees Horace and wants to ingratiate himself with the great poet. Though Horace is visibly displeased with the poetaster's irritating company, Crispinus insists that Horace should introduce him to Maecenas. Horace is saved when Minos enters with Lictors to have Crispinus arrested for debt. In his turn, Crispinus is saved by the boisterous entrance of Captain Tucca, who threatens and cajoles Minos, finally persuading him to be content with half of Crispinus's debt. At Albius's house, Crispinus enters with his host, followed by Demetrius and Tucca. Crispinus sings his love poem, apparently inspired by ChloŽ as Canidia, but the poets present discover that the poem is plagiarized from Horace. Crispinus is diplomatically silent, and he exits with the others to the ball at court. Disguised as Mercury, Crispinus enters an apartment in the Palace together with the entire party of poets and their ladies, each characteristically dressed as gods and goddesses. All the masks play their assigned roles. When the angry Caesar enters and interrupts the revelry, Crispinus says he is a poor gentleman poet and exits meekly. While Caesar is holding his court with the poets, Crispinus enters with Demetrius. When Aesop and Lupus are chased in disgrace, Crispinus and Demetrius are charged with calumny and plagiarism. They sit a trial and are pronounced guilty. As a punishment, Crispinus is given an emetic to throw up the difficult words that had overloaded his vocabulary. After he vomits superfluous words, Crispinus's sentence is to be locked in a dark place in solitude. Crispinus and Demetrius are made to swear they will never publicly detract Horace or write against him.

CYNTHIA

A "ghost character." Cynthia is the poetic name of Propertius's mistress, who inspired his love elegies. At Ovid's house in Rome, Ovid and Tibullus discuss about their ladies, muses of their love verses. When Ovid asks about Propertius, Tibullus informs him that he grieves for his Cynthia's death. Tibullus says he never saw an understanding spirit that would take to heart the adversities of fate. Ovid sympathizes with Propertius's grief because, he says, suffering is different when one reads about it than when one is affected with it. When Horace comes to Albius's house to escort ChloŽ and Cytheris to a masquerade ball at court, he announces that their melancholic friend Propertius has locked himself in Cynthia's tomb and would not come out.

CYTHERIS

Cytheris is Cornelius Gallus's mistress and Crispinus's cousin. The name she is known in literature is Lycoris, and Virgil's tenth Eclogue pictures Gallus pining for Lycoris in an idyllic landscape. At Albius's house in Rome, Cytheris enters greeting her cousin Crispinus. Albius announces the arrival of important guests and the poets and their ladies enter. Though Gallus praises Cytheris in his love elegies, he pretends to court ChloŽ, and Cytheris pretends to be pleased with his choice. When Albius calls ChloŽ out on some household pretext, the guests feel free to speak openly about love. After light conversation and music, the guests depart for the banquet hall. At Albius's house, Cytheris enters with ChloŽ, fully attired for the masquerade ball at court. Gallus and Tibullus enter, prepared to escort the ladies to court in Princess Julia's coach. After she hears Crispinus's verses, apparently composed for ChloŽ, but which prove to be plagiarized from Horace, Cytheris exits with the entire party to the ball at court. Cytheris disguised as Pallas enters an apartment in the palace, together with the entire party of poets and their ladies, each characteristically dressed as gods and goddesses. All the masks play their assigned roles. During the entertainment presided by Ovid/Jupiter, Cytheris/Pallas does not speak, but she enjoys the revelry. When Caesar enters and rails at the debauched party and banishes Ovid, it is understood that Cytheris shares the fate of Julia and the other ladies. They are silent and subdued.

DELIA

Only mentioned. Delia is the poetic name of Plautia. Tibullus dedicated his love elegies to her under this name. Tibullus and the other poets discover that Crispinus plagiarized his love elegy dedicated to ChloŽ as Canidia from Horace. Crispinus protests, saying that Canidia is just a borrowed poetic pen name, such as Corinna for Ovid, Cynthia for Propertius, or, Delia for Tibullus.

DEMETRIUS FANNIUS

Demetrius Fannius is a meager playwright in Rome. He is probably meant to represent Thomas Dekker, Jonson's contemporary. According to Histrio, Demetrius is a dresser of plays, whom the actors have hired to abuse Horace and all the other gallant poets. The players expect to gain a great deal of money from the production of such a play. Histrio tells Tucca that Demetrius has one of the most overflowing rank wits in Rome, and would slander any man that breathes. At Albius's house, Demetrius enters with Crispinus, followed by Tucca. Albius introduces Demetrius to the poets of Ovid's party. After he hears Crispinus's verses, apparently composed for ChloŽ, but which prove to be plagiarized from Horace, Demetrius makes unfavorable remarks regarding Horace. According to Demetrius's vulgar description, Horace is like a sponge, which sucks from every society he is in and then comes home and squeezes himself dry. As regards his satires, Demetrius accuses Horace of arrogance and impudence. Although Tucca and Crispinus are invited to the ball at court, Demetrius is not. Neglected and marginalized, Demetrius exits telling Tucca he is going to do some writing. While Caesar is holding his court with the poets, Demetrius enters with Crispinus, following Aesop, because they think that Aesop is brought to testify against Horace. When Aesop and Lupus are chased in disgrace, Demetrius and Crispinus are charged with calumny and plagiarism. They sit a trial and are pronounced guilty. When asked what cause he had to malign Horace, Demetrius answers it was no great cause, save that Horace kept better company than he did, and that better men loved him. Demetrius is sentenced to wear a fool's coat and cap in public, thus showing what others have made of him. Demetrius and Crispinus are made to swear they will never publicly detract Horace or write against him.

ENNIUS

Only mentioned. Quintus Ennius (239–169 BC) was a Latin epic poet, called the father of Roman poetry. He introduced the hexameter verse form. In his youth, he probably saw tragedies performed in Magna Graecia, and therefore was able to bring Athenian methods of production into Rome. Largely throughout the works of Cicero, there are preserved a number of fragments and titles of a score of tragedies by Ennius. Most of his plays are based upon the Homeric fables. His major works are Annales, 18 books of epic history of Rome, The Rape of the Sabines, Scipio, a poem of Scipio Africanus, four books of satires and two comedies. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that Ennius will live forever through his verses. Though Ovid describes Ennius as rude, he thinks that his verses will live eternally, as part of the beauty of art. At the end of the play, after Virgil has Crispinus take an emetic and throw up all his bad words, he then prescribes a long-term cure. Virgil advises Crispinus to observe a strict and wholesome diet. Virgil suggests that Crispinus should read the best Latin authors, but should avoid Plautus and Ennius, because they are meats too harsh for a weak stomach.

ENVY

In Rome, Envy appears on stage after the second sounding in lieu of Prologue. Envy salutes the light and says that the purpose of her coming there is to assist to the arraignment. The allusion is to the indictment of the poetasters Crispinus and Demetrius, charged with calumny and plagiarism and judged by Virgil and Caesar. Envy says she is acting as Prologue to this hated play, whose plot has been hatched for fifteen weeks. The allusion is to the fact that Jonson's Poetaster was written in fifteen weeks on a report that his enemies had entrusted to Dekker a dramatic attack upon Jonson. Envy hopes to mar the audience's entertainment with insidious comments and suggestions, which would spoil the play from the start. Envy condemns the choice of the play's setting, wondering if poets with forked tongues steeped in venom exist in Rome. Such poets could pervert and poison all they hear and see with senseless glosses and allusions. Envy alludes to the situation of conflict between competing poets, some of whom resent Author. Envy addresses these poets as allies, telling them to take her snakes and help her to damn Author, finding every fault in his verses. Envy wants these vituperative poets to arm themselves with triple malice and hiss, and tear Author's work apart by misinterpreting his verses. When Envy sees that none of these defamatory poets would come forth, she seems to despair saying that her hopes of inciting conflict out of malice are lost. Envy says she cannot remain on earth and descends slowly to hell.

EPAMINONDAS

Only mentioned. Epaminondas (c.418–362 BC) was born in Thebes and was known as a great tactic, general and political leader. He was a very severe person and did not stand any kind of lies. As a young man he had trained himself in ascetic ways, and had studied music and philosophy according to Pythagoras. After the liberation of Thebes from the Spartans, Epaminondas was elected representative at the peace meeting in Sparta. He had no success there, and left the meeting after an argument with the Spartan king Agesilaus. Thus, Epaminondas's name is linked to a failed process of negotiating peace, just as Maecenas tries to do during the conflict between Lupus and Horace. When Lupus falsely accuses Horace of treason, Tucca literally attacks Maecenas, whom he calls an Epaminondas. Tucca tells Maecenas to resign and seizes his golden chain, a symbol of his authority.

PYRGUS, FIRST and SECOND

Two Pirgi figure in the play.
  • The First Pyrgus is one of Tucca's slave boys. The Pirgi are good actors, employed by Tucca for his improvised performances meant to deceive people into believing Tucca's plots. First and Second Pyrgus accompany Tucca on the Via Sacra. Tucca sees that Minos is about to have Crispinus arrested and he brandishes his sword, which he commands from one of his followers. First Pyrgus notes in an aside that he is certain Tucca will harm nobody with his sword, probably alluding to Tucca's being a coward and a braggart. When Tucca and Minos come to some sort of understanding, and Tucca promises to become Minos's customer, he tells his servant to note the apothecary's address, and First Pyrgus acknowledges he has. Then, Tucca makes Crispinus pay for having been saved, and he advises the poetaster to give First Pyrgus his girdle and hangers, which Crispinus does readily. First Pyrgus plays in the revenge tragedy presented at the improvised performance Tucca set up in the street for Histrio's benefit. First and Second Pyrgus follow Tucca, who exits discreetly to avoid meeting with Horace because the poet was in the company of Trebatius, the lawyer.
  • The Second Pyrgus is also one of Tucca's slave boys. Tucca sees that Minos is about to have Crispinus arrested and he brandishes his sword, which he commands from one of his followers. When Tucca offers to bribe the Lictor and save Crispinus from being arrested, Second Pyrgus observes that, with the three drachmas given to Lictor, half of Tucca's money is gone. When Tucca makes Minos sponsor the fictional and dubious play-writing enterprise, in which Histrio is supposed to commission a play to Crispinus, Second Pyrgus notes in an aside that he serves a notable shark. Second Pyrgus plays in the revenge tragedy presented at the improvised performance Tucca set up in the street for Histrio's benefit. Second Pyrgus borrows Tucca's scarf and prepares to interpret the Moor, using the scarf to create a makeshift turban. Second Pyrgus re-enters riding on Minos's shoulders. It is understood that Minos is short and Second Pyrgus is tall, so the comic effect is evident. Second Pyrgus delivers his speech as the Moor. First and Second Pyrgus follow Tucca, who exits discreetly to avoid meeting with Horace because the poet was in the company of Trebatius, the lawyer.

FRIEND, HORACE'S

A "fictional character." Horace's fabricated sick friend. When Horace wants to disentangle himself from Crispinus's irritating company, he pretends he is visiting a friend who lives on the far side of the Tiber, by Caesar's Gardens, and who is sick of the plague.

FRISKER

A "ghost character." Frisker is an actor playing the zany in Histrio's troupe. When Tucca invites himself for supper at Histrio's expense, he recommends the player not to invite certain actors. However, Tucca tells Histrio he may bring Frisker along because he is a good facetious boaster. Probably Tucca finds affinities with the actor interpreting the braggart since Frisker's acting is supposed to ridicule people like Tucca.

GALLANT

A "fictional character." The Gallant ridiculed in the players' comedies. When Ovid Senior is displeased at his son's preference for poetry, and Luscus says that players are annoying because they lampoon politicians in their comedies, Tucca brings an additional comment. As if speaking from personal experience, Tucca says that the innocent gallant cannot pawn his reveling suit to make his punk a supper before being the object of ridicule in the comedies.

GALLUS, CORNELIUS

Cornelius Gallus is a poet in Rome and friend of Ovid. At Albius's house, Gallus enters with the other poets and their ladies. Though Gallus praises Cytheris in his love elegies, he pretends to court ChloŽ, and Cytheris pretends to be pleased with his choice. When Albius calls ChloŽ out on some household pretext, the guests feel free to speak openly about love. Gallus tells Ovid and Tibullus that they are bold to meet their mistresses in Albius's house. However, it emerges that Gallus had arranged the assignations, so that he might meet his lady Cytheris. After light conversation and music, the guests depart for the banquet hall. At Albius's house, Gallus and Tibullus enter, prepared to escort ChloŽ and Cytheris to a masquerade ball at court, at Princess Julia's invitation. When Crispinus sings a poem apparently dedicated to ChloŽ as Canidia, Gallus discovers it is plagiarized from Horace and the poets start to argue. Gallus exits with the entire party to the ball at court. Gallus disguised as Apollo enters an apartment in the palace, together with the entire party of poets and their ladies, each characteristically dressed as gods and goddesses. All the masks play their assigned roles. During the entertainment presided by Ovid/Jupiter, Gallus/Apollo enjoys the revelry. When Caesar enters and rails at the debauched party, it is understood that Gallus shares the poets' disgrace. In an apartment at the Palace, Gallus follows Caesar and his train, composed of Tibullus, Horace, and Maecenas. Caesar announces he has pardoned Gallus and Tibullus, because he needs poets in the city. Gallus acknowledges his gratitude to Caesar and addresses him in flattering verses. Gallus attends the public disgrace of the foolish Lupus and the braggart Tucca, as well as the poetasters' arraignment. When justice is served, Gallus joins the chorus of the court poets, praising Caesar's justice and generosity, and he exits with the court. The historic Cornelius Gallus (69–26 BC) was a Latin poet. Suetonius, in his Life of Augustus, writes that Gallus fell in the Emperor's disgrace. Gallus wrote four books of love elegies, probably entitled Amores, to a woman called Lycoris. Virgil's tenth Eclogue pictures Gallus pining for Lycoris in an idyllic landscape. Gallus's elegies were probably published before 39 BC. When Ovid Senior shows his displeasure at his son's inclination to poetry, he says that Gallus, Tibullus, and Propertius have drunk of the same poison. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that "our" Gallus shall be known from east to west through his verses.

GANYMEDE

Pyrgus is disguised as Ganymede, the gods' cup bearer, at the masquerade banquet at court. When Ovid/Jupiter announces the order of the revelry, he commands Pyrgus/Ganymede to fill a bowl of nectar, so that he might drink to his daughter Venus (ChloŽ). Julia/Juno shows signs of jealousy at Ovid/Jupiter's attention to ChloŽ/Venus, and Pyrgus/Ganymede observes that Julia/Juno inquired frequently about her "husband's" amorous transgressions. Tucca/Mars instructs Pyrgus/Ganymede on how o bear his cup even, lest he should spill the nectar. It seems that Pyrgus/Ganymede has drunk some of the gods' nectar, which made him as drunk as the others. Tucca/Mars observes that the rascal Ganymede should have rubbed his face with white egg till his brows are as sleek as a horn-book, or have steeped his lips in wine till he made them so plump that Juno would have been jealous of them. When Albius/Vulcan shows signs of drowsiness and his head is dropping, Pyrgus/Ganymede notices that he is almost drunk and he has filled nectar so long that his brain swims in it. When Caesar enters and rails at the licentious party, Pyrgus/Ganymede exits with Tucca/Mars.

HECTOR

Only mentioned. In the Iliad, Hector is the son of the Trojan King Priam and the greatest of the Trojan heroes. When the Greeks besieged Troy, Hector's wife, Andromache, begged him not to fight, but Hector embraced their child and left to join the battle. Hector killed Patroclus, a friend of the Greek hero Achilles, and in revenge, Achilles killed Hector. Achilles then drove his chariot around the walls of Troy, dragging Hector's body behind him. Priam finally begged his son's body from Achilles. The Trojans, mourning, burned Hector's body, and buried his ashes. When the fighting resumed, Troy fell to the Greeks. When Tucca enters Albius's house as his guest, he calls Albius the Hector of citizens, probably alluding flatteringly to the jeweler's leading position among tradesmen.

HELEN

Only mentioned. According to Homeric legend, Helen was the most beautiful woman in the world. She was the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, promised her to Paris, son of Priam of Troy. During Menelaus's absence, Paris persuaded Helen to flee with him to Troy. Agamemnon, the brother of Menelaus, led an expedition against troy to recover Helen, which started the Trojan War. When the Greeks finally recovered Helen, Menelaus took Helen back to Sparta. When Tucca enters Albius's house as his guest, he calls Albius noble Menelaus, asking him about his wife, Helen. Tucca's allusion seems to refer to the jeweler's leading position among the tradesmen in Rome, but also to his situation of a cuckold, since Helen committed adultery.

HERCULES

Only mentioned. Hercules was the strongest and most celebrated hero of classical mythology. The goddess Hera hated him and she caused him to be seized with a frenzy during which he killed his children. To atone, Hecules had to serve his cousin, King Eurystheus, who ordered him to perform the tasks known as the twelve labors of Hercules. The second task was to slay the Hydra, a terrible serpent with nine heads. When Horace wants to disentangle himself from Crispinus's irritating conversation, he invokes Hercules, asking him to come down and perform the thirteenth labor, that of rescuing Horace from Crispinus, who is described as a hydra of discourse. Hercules is also called Alcides. After having completed the twelve tasks, Hercules was now free. The centaur Nessus tried to carry off Hercules's wife, Deianeira, and Hercules shot Nessus with a poisoned arrow. The dying centaur had Deianeira keep some of his blood as a love charm. When Hercules fell in love with another maiden, Deianeira sent him a robe steeped in the blood. Hercules put it on, and the poison spread through his body, tormenting him. Horace compares Crispinus's insistence with poison, saying that the poetaster cleaves to him like Alcides's shirt, tearing at his flesh and sinews. Horace tells Aristius he has been tortured by Crispinus so badly that his torments can be compared to those of Hercules in his poisoned shirt, pleading with Aristius to find some means to take the pest Crispinus off his back.

HERMOGENES TIGELLINUS

Hermogenes Tigellinus is a court musician in Rome. At Albius's house, Hermogenes enters with the poets and their ladies. When the poets in Ovid's party want to make light and innocuous conversation, they address Hermogenes. Gallus asks him why he is so sad, and Hermogenes responds he is a little melancholy with riding. After being entreated several times, Hermogenes finally accepts to sing for ChloŽ's guests, only after he has been challenged by Crispinus, who offered to sing instead. Hermogenes sings with accompaniment about a fickle lady who plays with her lover's passion. After light conversation and music, the guests depart for the banquet hall. Hermogenes disguised as Momus enters an apartment in the palace together with the entire party of poets and their ladies, each characteristically dressed as gods and goddesses. All the masks play their assigned roles. During the entertainment presided by Ovid/Jupiter, Hermogenes/Momus enjoys the revelry. Though Hermogenes plays Momus, the god of criticism and reprehension at the Ovidian party, he sings a song with Crispinus/Mercury celebrating the feast of sense and the delight in the beauty of the eye. When Caesar enters and rails at the ribald party, it is understood that Hermogenes disperses.

HESIOD

Only mentioned. Hesiod was a ninth-century BC Greek poet. Except for the works of Homer, the epics of Hesiod are the earliest Greek writings to come down to the present. His Theogony relates the myths about the gods, and Works and Days is a book of wisdom literature that traces the decline of humanity from an early golden age. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that Hesiod will live forever through his verses, as long as vines bear grapes. At the end of the play, after Virgil has Crispinus take an emetic to throw up his bad words, he then prescribes Crispinus to observe a strict and wholesome diet. Virgil suggests ironically that Crispinus should read, with a tutor, the best Greek authors, among whom Virgil mentions Hesiod.

HISTRIO

Histrio is a player in Rome. On the Via Sacra, Histrio is accosted by Tucca, who proposes that Histrio should commission Crispinus to write a play for his company. Histrio says he does not have so much money about him, so Tucca has the gullible Minos sponsor the fictional play-writing enterprise. Tucca criticizes the plays in town because they are not bawdy enough, but Histrio assures Tucca that such plays can be seen only on the other side of the Tiber, not their company. Tucca accuses the players of having staged a character modeled after him, and he threatens them with destroying their Globes and Triumphs, but Histrio denies it eloquently. When Tucca has his boys act before Histrio, the player wants to hire them for a week at his company. Tucca declines, but accepts an invitation for supper. Seeing Demetrius, Histrio explains to Tucca that they have commissioned him to write a play to abuse Horace. Histrio admits that they need such plays to gain a great deal of money, because the winter has made all actors poorer than so many starved snakes. After attending a second performance by Tucca's boys, Histrio exits. At Lupus's house, Histrio enters and reports that the poets of Ovid's party have hired some of the actors' properties (a scepter and a crown for Jove and a caduceus for Mercury). Lupus concludes that the poets envisage treason and considers reporting it to Caesar. After Lupus thanks him, Histrio exits. Histrio enters following Caesar's retinue, attends the scene of the poets' disgrace, and exits with Caesar's train. In a street before the palace, Horace and Maecenas follow Lupus and Histrio, calling the actor a poor stager. Histrio is blamed for having been an accessory to Ovid's disgrace. After being exposed to Horace's and Maecenas's contempt, Histrio exits with Lupus.

HOMER

Only mentioned. Homer is the ancient Greek poet who has traditionally been credited with putting the legends of the Iliad and the Odyssey into writing. Nothing certain is known about him, and some say he was a native of the island of Chios, and he supposedly lived around 850 BC. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that Homer will live forever through his verses, as long as the mountains Tenedos and Ide stand on the earth, or the river Simois flows to the sea. When Ovid Senior rails at poets and their non-lucrative art, he dares his son to name a poet of some means. Ovid Senior says that Homer, whom all admire so much that they approach his worm-eaten statue with humble adoration, gained nothing in terms of material wealth. Tucca adds that Homer was a poor blind rhyming rascal, who lived obscurely in taverns and scarcely ever made a good meal in his sleep. At the end of the play, after Virgil has Crispinus take an emetic to throw up his bad words, he then prescribes Crispinus to observe a strict and wholesome diet. Virgil suggests ironically that Crispinus should read, with a tutor, the best Greek authors, among whom Virgil mentions Homer.

HORACE

Horace is a renowned poet in Rome, probably representing Ben Jonson. On the Via Sacra, Horace is walking alone while composing an ode dedicated to Maecenas. When Crispinus approaches him, Horace is annoyed at the poetaster's impertinence and verbosity. After many attempts and allusions meant to dissuade Crispinus from following him, it seems that Horace manages to slip away during the confusion created when Minos comes to have Crispinus arrested for debt. In an apartment at the palace, Horace enters with Maecenas following Caesar and his train. The angry Caesar cannot believe his eyes on seeing his daughter Julia participating in a debauched party, and he asks Horace and Maecenas for confirmation of his senses. At some point, Horace tries feebly to intervene in the poets' favor, asking Caesar to be merciful, but he has no success. Horace exits with Ceasar's train. In an apartment in the palace, Horace follows Caesar and his company of poets, formed of Tibullus, Gallus, and Maecenas. When Caesar announces he has pardoned Gallus and Tibullus, Horace acknowledges his gratitude and addresses Caesar in flattering verses. When Virgil is announced and Caesar places him on a seat of honor, Caesar asks Horace what he thinks about detraction. Horace affirms that he does not envy Virgil. When Lupus enters and brings false accusations against Horace, the poet exonerates himself and manages to expose Lupus's spiteful foolishness. Caesar commands Horace to have Crispinus and Demetrius charged with calumny and plagiarism. When the poetasters are found guilty and punished, Horace proposes that Crispinus be given an emetic to purge all his bad words from his stomach. When justice is served, Horace asks Virgil to administer the oath of good behavior to the poetasters, so that they may never detract Horace publicly or write against him. When the court is dissolved, Horace exits with Caesar's train. The historic Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65–8 BC) was an outstanding Latin lyric poet and satirist. The most frequent themes in Horace's Odes and verse Epistles are love, the pleasures of friendship and simple life, and the art of poetry. Maecenas, the protector of arts and letters, helped Horace in his literary career. In this period, Horace published his second book of Satires, the collection of Epodes, and Odes. With the death of Vergil, Horace became the most celebrated poet of the Augustan age, when the court and private individuals supported arts on a grand scale. The emperor was overtly worshipped as divine and Horace and Virgil acted as poet laureate of the new regime. Horace's Carmen Saeculare (Secular Hymn), appeared in 17 BC, and was commissioned by Augustus. The Author's apology quotes Horace's Satire I, Book 2 in lieu of epilogue. Here, Horace participates in a dialogue with Trebatius about the advisability of the poet's writing satires. While Trebatius advises Horace to take a more moderate stance, and even stop writing satires, the poet militates for a fearless attitude in exposing corruption and vice in his society.

IRIS

Only mentioned. In Greek mythology, Iris was the rainbow goddess, who carried messages for the gods, especially for Zeus and Hera, king and queen of the gods. When Tucca enters Albius's house as his guest, he names Albius after several noble celebrities of classical antiquity, and he gives ChloŽ the names of mythological goddesses. Among others, he calls ChloŽ an Iris. By alluding to ChloŽ as Iris, Tucca probably implies that she is a go-between connecting the court and the poets' world. At the same time, however, ChloŽ is an unwitting messenger between the lovers Ovid/Jupiter and Julia/Juno, because they are using her house as a meeting place.

JANUS

Only mentioned. In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of doors and good beginnings. He was sometimes portrayed as facing two opposite directions. Janus was often the god whose name was invoked in worship rituals, and the month of January was named after him. Ovid Senior lectures his son on the benefits of studying law instead of writing poetry. Ovid advises his son to send Janus home his back face again, and look only forward, to the law. Ovid Senior alludes to the fact that his son should start a profitable profession in law and the mention of the two-faced Janus points to Ovid's apparent indecision in the choice of a career.

JULIA

Julia is Caesar's daughter and in love with Ovid. He praises her in verse under the name of Corinna. At Ovid's house in Rome, Tibullus brings Ovid a note from Julia, summoning him to a meeting in Albius's house. At Albius's house, Julia enters with the poets and their ladies. Julia greets ChloŽ, pretending to favor her and alluding that she is in the Emperor's graces. When Albius calls ChloŽ out on some household pretext, the guests feel free to speak openly about love. When the hosts re-enter, Julia wants to see Albius's famous jewelry. After some musical entertainment, Julia exits with the guests to the banquet hall. Julia disguised as Juno enters an apartment in the palace, together with the entire party of poets and their ladies, each characteristically dressed as gods and goddesses. All the masks play their assigned roles. During the entertainment presided by Ovid/Jupiter, Julia/Juno enjoys the revelry. She shows jealousy when Ovid/Jupiter pretends to court ChloŽ/Venus, and alludes to her feelings for the well-nosed poet, Ovid. When Caesar enters and rails at the debauched party and banishes Ovid, it is understood that Julia and the other women adopt an attitude of silence and submission. While Ovid laments his unhappy situation in the palace garden, Julia appears at her chamber window, expressing her wish to share his fate. Ovid deters her, the two lovers say farewell, and Julia retires from the window.

JUNO

Julia is disguised as Juno at the masquerade banquet at court. In Roman mythology, Juno was the goddess identified with the Greek goddess Hera, wife of Jupiter and queen of the gods. The union was regarded as the divine prototype of earthly marriage, though Jupiter was not always faithful to Juno. Since Ovid takes the disguise of Jupiter, Juno's husband and king of the gods, the mythological associations parallel the love couples in the revelry. During the entertainment presided by Ovid/Jupiter, Julia/Juno enjoys the revelry. She shows jealousy when Ovid/Jupiter pretends to court ChloŽ/Venus, and alludes to her feelings for the well-nosed poet, Ovid. When Caesar enters and rails at the debauched party and banishes Ovid, it is understood that Julia and the other women adopt an attitude of silence and submission.

JUPITER

Ovid is disguised as Jupiter at the masquerade banquet at court. Jupiter or Jove was the Roman name of the greatest of gods in classical mythology. He was the father of gods and men, protector of kings, supporter of law and order, and avenger of broken oaths and other offenses. Jupiter ruled over the affairs of humanity. Ovid's disguise as Jupiter probably alludes to his leading role among the poets. Since Julia takes the disguise of Juno, Jupiter's wife and queen of the gods, the mythological associations parallel the love couples in the revelry. As the supreme commander of the gods, Ovid/Jupiter orders Crispinus/Mercury to announce the order of the licentious festival. While pretending to court ChloŽ/Venus, Ovid/Jupiter wants to make Julia/Juno jealous. He mock abuses his "wife," Julia/Juno, thus disclosing his affection for her in a reversed mode. Ovid/Jupiter pretends to order his messenger, Crispinus/Mercury, to go to Caesar and command him to sacrifice his beautiful and wanton daughter, Julia, because she plays the shrew behind the emperor's back. The messenger does not get to carry out his mission because Caesar enters in person, railing against the debauched party and punishing Ovid. It is understood that the poet sheds his role as the supreme master of the gods and is forced to face the harsh reality of exile and disgrace.

KING DARIUS

Only mentioned. King Darius the Great (550–486 BC) ruled over the Persian Empire and was one of the most powerful monarchs of ancient times. King Darius is the title of a pathetic revenge tragedy interpreted by the First and Second Pyrgus for Histrio's benefit, at Tucca's command.

LUCILIUS

Only mentioned. Gaius Lucilius (c.180–102? BC) was a Latin satiric poet, considered the founder of Latin satire, born at Campania, Italy. About 1,300 fragments survive from his 30 books. He influenced Horace, Persius, and Juvenal. He was a friend of Scipio Aemilianus and of Laelius. Satire had been already cultivated in dramatic form and, with Ennius and Pacuvius, in the polymetric composition of various arguments. With Lucilius, satire takes the form of hexameter, which remains the typical meter of satire. His satires, of which we have fragments, consist of scenes and character sketches from life, and are generally, though not always, aimed at the folly and wickedness of mankind, particularly as found in the party opposed to the clique of Scipio and his friends. In his dialogue with Trebatius, which is part of Author's apology, and which quotes Horace's Satire 1, Book II, Horace says he cannot praise Caesar's victories in his poems, because Caesar's wars cannot be fought with words. Then, Trebatius, who advocates for Horace writing verses that praise Caesar instead of satires, gives Horace an alternative. Horace could write of Caesar's virtue, showing him in a favorable light, as wise Lucilius does. Similarly, when Horace expresses his preference for writing verse, he says that he likes to close his words in feet, just like Lucilius, who is better than both Horace and Trebatius. According to Horace, Lucilius holds his books as his trusted friends, sharing all his secrets with them. Thus, Lucilius's life was described in his verses and could be seen as a votive table. Horace says that his genius inclines to Lucilius's authority.

LUCRECE

Only mentioned. Lucretia was a Roman matron whose suicide, because of outrage inflicted by Sextus, son of Tarquinius Superbus, provoked expulsion of the Tarquins. When Tucca enters Albius's house as his guest, he names Albius after several noble celebrities of classical antiquity, and asks about his wife, his Lucrece. The allusion to ChloŽ as a virtuous Roman lady is meant to be flattering, though Lucrece was raped and disgraced.

LUCRETIUS

Only mentioned. Titus Lucretius Carus (96–55 BC) was a Roman poet and philosopher, who preached against the idea of the immortality of the soul. Lucretius temporarily revived the atomic theory of Democritus and Lecippus, explaining the atomic structure of the world in his book De rerum natura. Lucretius was the chief exponent of the idea of numerous worlds. He thought that matter was composed of atoms that combined accidentally. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that Lucretius will live forever through his verses. Ovid says that Lucretius's lofty poetry will die only when the earth and the seas perish in flames.

LUPUS, ASINIUS

Asinius Lupus is a tribune in Rome. At Ovid's house, Lupus enters with Ovid Senior, followed by Tucca. When Ovid Senior shows his displeasure at his son's inclination to poetry and drama, Lupus agrees, saying that these players are an idle generation and harm the state authority. According to Lupus, players discredit politicians and diminish their dignity by alluding to them on stage and making them the object of ridicule for the plebeians. Lupus believes himself the wisest man that exists, blaming the players' shows, which make politicians look vulgar and cheap. Lupus exits Ovid's house. At his house in Rome, Lupus enters with Histrio. When Histrio reports that the poets of Ovid's party have hired some of the actors' properties (a scepter and crown for Jove and a caduceus for Mercury), Lupus concludes that he has discovered a conspiracy against Caesar. Taking the barely arrived Maecenas and Horace in his train, Lupus exits to the palace to report the case of treason. In an apartment in the palace, Lupus enters with Caesar's train, attends the scene of the poets' disgrace, and exits with Caesar's party. While Caesar holds court with the poets, Lupus demands immediate entrance, pretending to disclose an attempted plot on Caesar's life. When he enters followed by Tucca, Lupus shows Caesar an engraving, which he claims to have found in Horace's study in Maecenas's house. Lupus interprets the drawing as representing an eagle, which symbolizes Caesar, while Horace explains that it represents a vulture and a wolf preying on an ass's carcass. Seeing that his foolishness has made him look like an idiot, Lupus blames it all on Aesop, the player. When Aesop enters, Caesar orders him to be whipped, and banishes Lupus for his credulity. Lupus exits in disgrace.

LUSCUS

Luscus is Ovid's servant. While Ovid meditates on the immortality of poetry, Luscus enters, urging his master to put away his elegy and get a law book in hand because his father is coming to visit him. Luscus thinks that this libertine poetry will undo his master soon. Luscus tells Ovid that he is Castallian mad, a lunatic, and a desperate man. It seems that the pragmatic Luscus does not trust poetry and blames his master for his passion for it. When Ovid Senior shows his displeasure at his son's inclination towards poetry and drama, Luscus adds that he had been telling his young master all this, but he would not listen. Ovid Senior is displeased with the servants' intervention and sends him to get the horses ready. Luscus exits to do the job. Luscus re-enters to announce that the horses are at the gate and makes unfavorable remarks regarding Tucca, whom he suspects of trying to extort money from Ovid Senior. Luscus exits with his master.

LYCOPHRON

Only mentioned. Lycophron was an early third-century BC Alexandrian Greek poet, one of the Pleiad. He flourished at Alexandria in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285–247 BC). Ptolemy entrusted him with the task of arranging the comedies in the Alexandrian library, and as the result of his labors composed a treatise On Comedy. His own compositions, however, chiefly consisted of tragedies, which secured him a place in the Pleiad of Alexandrian tragedians. His only extant poem Cassandra is an obscure and difficult work in iambic verse. It is in the form of a prophecy uttered by Cassandra, and relates the later fortunes of Troy and of the Greek and Trojan heroes. The style is so enigmatic as to have procured for Lycophron, even among the ancients, the title of "obscure." The poem is evidently intended to display the writer's knowledge of obscure names and uncommon myths; it is full of unusual words of doubtful meaning gathered from the older poets, and many long-winded compounds coined by the author. It has none of the qualities of poetry, and was probably written as a display for the Alexandrian school. After Virgil has Crispinus take an emetic to throw up his bad words, he then prescribes Crispinus to observe a strict and wholesome diet. Virgil suggests ironically that Crispinus should read, with a tutor, the best classical authors. Among others, Virgil mentions Orpheus, Musaeus, Pindarus, Hesiod, Callimachus, Theocrite, and Homer, but tells Crispinus to avoid Lycophon because he is too dangerous a dish. According to Virgil, Crispinus must not hunt for wild and outlandish terms to stuff out a peculiar dialect, but let the matter run before the words. Virgil's advice is against a sophisticated style and the use of a Frenchified vocabulary.

LYCORIS

Only mentioned. Lycoris is the heroine of the love elegies composed by the Latin poet Cornelius Gallus. Her real name was Volumnia Cytheris. She was a freedwoman actress, who had previously been the mistress of Marcus Antonius. Virgil's tenth Eclogue pictures Gallus pining for Lycoris in an idyllic landscape. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that Lycoris's name will be known throughout the world.

MAECENAS

Maecenas is a patron of the arts in Rome and a friend of Horace. In an apartment at the palace, Maecenas enters with Horace following Caesar and his train. The angry Caesar cannot believe his eyes on seeing his daughter Julia participating in a debauched party, and he asks Maecenas and Horace for confirmation of his senses. At some point, Maecenas tries feebly to intervene in the poets' favor, asking Caesar to forgive and be like the gods, but he has no success. Maecenas exits with Caesar's train. In an apartment in the palace, Maecenas follows Caesar and his company of poets, formed of Tibullus, Gallus, and Horace. When Caesar announces he has pardoned Gallus and Tibullus, Maecenas acknowledges his gratitude and addresses Caesar in flattering verses. Maecenas attends the public disgrace of the foolish Lupus and the braggart Tucca, as well as the arraignment of the poetasters Crispinus and Demetrius. When justice is served, Maecenas joins the chorus of poets praising Caesar's justice and generosity, and exits with the court.

MAIDS, FIRST and SECOND

The Maids are servant slaves at Albius's house. The First Maid enters with Second Maid, following ChloŽ with perfumes and flowers for the expected guests. They help ChloŽ arrange and perfume the house. When ChloŽ first notices Crispinus in her house, she asks who he is, and First Maid says she does not know; the Second Maid says Crispinus wants to speak with his cousin Cytheris. It appears that First Maid and Second Maid set cushions in the parlor windows and the dining chamber, which displeases Albius. He says that the arrangement is tavern-like and suggests they should have the cushions laid one upon the other in some corner of the dining chamber. The maids disregard his instructions, because ChloŽ commands her husband not to meddle in household matters. First Maid exits with Second Maid to prepare the banquet room for the guests.
MANGO

A "ghost character." Mango is an actor playing the fool in Histrio's troupe. When Tucca invites himself for supper at Histrio's expense, he recommends the player not to invite certain actors. However, Tucca tells Histrio he may bring Mango along, but not let him beg rapiers nor scarves, in his over-familiar playing face, nor roar out his barren bold jests with an agonizing laughter, between drunk and dry.

MARCUS OVIDIUS

Alternate name for Ovid's father, otherwise known as Ovid Senior.

MARS

Captain Tucca is disguised as Mars at the masquerade banquet at court. Second in importance only to Jupiter among the Roman gods, Mars was the god of war. Believed to be the father of Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, Mars was worshipped with great honor. In early times, he was a god of nature and fertility as well as of war, and the month of March, when winter ended, was named after him. The Romans identified their god of war with the Greek god, Ares. The Greeks, however, looked to Ares as a quarrelsome god, who sent war and pestilence and delighted in destruction. Tucca's personality is similar to the Greek version of the god of war, and his disguise as Mars alludes to Tucca's pugnacious spirit. Tucca/Mars plays the game of courting ChloŽ/Venus. When Ovid/Jupiter pretends to court ChloŽ/Venus himself, Tucca/Mars is jealous and inflamed. When Caesar enters and rails at the ribald party, banishing Ovid, Tucca makes himself scarce.

MELPOMENE

Only mentioned. In Greek mythology, Melpomene was the muse of tragedy. When Tucca enters Albius's house as his guest, he names Albius after several noble celebrities of classical antiquity, and he gives ChloŽ the names of mythological goddesses. Among others, he calls ChloŽ a Melpomene. By pretending that ChloŽ inspired poetry, Tucca wants to place the jeweler's wife on the same plane as the other Roman ladies who inspired the poets of Ovid's school. Since Albius commissioned to Crispinus a poem in his wife's honor, which the poetaster plagiarized from Horace, the parallel of ChloŽ with the poets' muses is ironic.

MENANDER

Only mentioned. Menander is a fourth-century BC Greek dramatist known for his comedies. Only one complete play still exists. Menander's comedies are kind and sympathetic, but rarely humorous in a boisterous sense. Menander is considered a representative of the New Comedy. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that Menander will live forever through his work, as long as the slaves be false, fathers hard, bawds whorish, and harlots flatter.

MENELAUS

Only mentioned. In The Iliad, Menelaus was the king of Sparta, husband to Helen. When Paris carried her off to Troy, Menelaus swore vengeance. He called upon the kings and princes of Greece to help him to lead an expedition against Troy, which started the Trojan War. When Tucca enters Albius's house as his guest, he calls Albius noble Menelaus, asking him about his wife, Helen. Tucca's allusion seems to refer to the jeweler's leading position among the tradesmen in Rome, but also to his situation of a cuckold, since Helen committed adultery.

MERCURY

Crispinus is disguised as Mercury at the masquerade banquet at court. In Roman mythology, Mercury was the name of the Greek Hermes, a subtle schemer. Mercury was the messenger of the gods and one of his duties was to conduct the ghosts of the dead to the lower world. Among men, he became the patron of merchants and the god of eloquence, good fortune, and prudence, as well as cunning, fraud, and theft. Crispinus's disguise as Mercury alludes to his pretended eloquence, but also to his dissimulating and sycophantic manner. Crispinus/Mercury plays the herald of the supreme god, Ovid/Jupiter. In his usual ingratiating style, Crispinus/Mercury tries to flatter the powerful, in this case Ovid/Jupiter. At the master's command, Crispinus/Mercury sings a duet with Hermogenes/Momus celebrating the feast of sense and the beauty of the eye. Ovid/Jupiter commands Crispinus/Mercury, in jest, to go to Caesar and order him to sacrifice his daughter, Julia. In her turn, Julia/Juno gives him another order, to ask Caesar to permit his daughter to love the well-nosed poet, Ovid. The messenger does not get to carry out his mission because Caesar enters in person, railing against the debauched party and punishing Ovid. Crispinus/Mercury says meekly that he is only a poor poet and asks for mercy.

MINERVA

Only mentioned. In Roman mythology, Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, counterpart of Athena. The Romans ranked her third among the gods, after Jupiter and Juno. Minerva was regarded as the protector of all cities and states. When Crispinus meets Horace on the Via Sacra, he wants to ingratiate himself with him, thus hoping to gain Maecenas's favor. Crispinus greets Horace, telling him that Minerva and the Muses stand auspicious to his designs.

MINOS

Minos is an apothecary in Rome, to whom Crispinus is in debt. When Horace wants to get rid of Crispinus's irritating company, he pretends he is visiting a friend who is sick of the plague. In order to dissuade Crispinus from accompanying him, Horace says he must go first to the apothecary. When Horace calls his fictional apothecary Rhadamantus, a just judge from hell, Crispinus replies that his apothecary is called Minos. In Greek mythology, Minos was a king and lawgiver of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa. After his death, he became judge in the underworld, next to Rhadamantus. Crispinus tells Horace he owes Minos money for sweetmeats, and Minos is after him to have him arrested for debt. After a while, Minos enters with Lictors, intending to have Crispinus arrested. Tucca enters and intervenes in the discussion, intimidating Minos and making him settle for half of the debt. Minos exits after having been made to promise the sponsoring of a fictional play-writing enterprise, in which Crispinus was supposed to write a play abusing Horace. At Lupus's house, Minos enters with a potion for Lupus, but the tribune concludes he was sent to poison him and has Minos arrested. Since he is in a hurry, Lupus takes Minos with him to the palace, and thus Minos attends the scene of the poets' arraignment at court.

MINOTAURUS

Only mentioned. In Greek mythology, Minotaurus was a bull-headed man monster, eater of human flesh. King Minos imprisoned him in the Cretan labyrinth. When Tucca wants to introduce Crispinus to Histrio, he recommends him as a great poet who was born to fill the Minotaurus's mouth. Thus, Tucca parallels Histrio to the Minotaurus suggesting that actors feed symbolically on people's flesh and their plays thrive on scandal.

MOMUS

Hermogenes is disguised as Momus at the masquerade banquet at court. In Greek mythology, Momus was the personification of mockery, blame, ridicule, scorn, and stinging criticism. He was expelled from heaven for his disrepute and ridicule of the gods. When Crispinus/Mercury, playing the herald at the masquerade court of the gods, announces the order of the revelry, Hermogenes/Momus notices that the crier has a thin voice. Gallus/Apollo shows displeasure at this intervention, but Ovid/Jupiter says to let him alone, because he only plays his role, Momus being the god of reprehension. When all hear that the revelry is supposed to give power to the most foolish character, Hermogenes/Momus observes that to play the fool by authority is wisdom. Ovid/Jupiter notices that Hermogenes/Momus is envious of Crispinus/Mercury and orders Gallus/Apollo to command louder music and let the two contend musically. Hermogenes/Momus and Crispinus/Mercury sing a duet celebrating the feast of sense and the beauty of the eye. It is understood that, when the angry Caesar enters and rails at the debauched party, punishing Ovid and the poets, Hermogenes/Momus disperses.

MUSAEUS

Only mentioned. Musaeus is a late fifth century AD epic poet, who wrote Hero and Leander. It is the story of two lovers on the Hellespont, which became one of the most popular in European literature during the sixteenth century, influencing Marlowe among others. Marlowe's Hero and Leander is a mythological, erotic poem. Hero was a nun vowed to chastity, devoted to Venus. Leander was her lover who swam across Hellespont nightly to visit her and who eventually drowned. Hero drowned herself in the same sea. The poem belongs to the genre of erotic narrative called epyllia. After Virgil has Crispinus take an emetic to throw up his bad words, he then prescribes Crispinus to observe a strict and wholesome diet. Virgil suggests ironically that Crispinus should read, with a tutor, the best Greek authors, among whom Virgil mentions Musaeus.

MUSES

Only mentioned. In Greek mythology, Muses are nine goddesses regarded as patrons of arts and sciences. It was taken for granted that poetry, like all other creative human endeavors, is inspired–a gift of the gods. For the Greeks, the Muses were the sources of poetic inspiration. Erato was the muse of lyric and love poetry; Melpomene inspired tragedy, Thalia comedy, and Calliope epic or heroic poetry. When he sees Horace, Crispinus greets him grandly, telling him that Minerva and the Muses stand auspicious to his designs. The allusion is to the Greek goddesses of wisdom and poetry, who favor Horace.

NASTUS

Nastus and Polyposus are engaged in an apologetic dialogue with the Author, placed outside the play, in lieu of epilogue, and addressed to the reader. The reader is asked to judge directly the conflicting situation created as a result of unfair detraction against Author. At Author's lodgings, Nastus invites Polyposus in to see how Author is taking all the libels perpetrated against him. Nastus says they must sympathize with Author, whom he expects to find very affected by these detractions. Nastus asks if Author is guilty of the allegations raised against him, but Polyposus says it is of no importance. Nastus and Polyposus enter Author's study and they listen to his monologue about how he is unaffected by other people's envious attacks. Nastus and Polyposus make their presence known, and Nastus inquires about the issues in Author's play that could have generated such a surge of envious attacks against him. Author says he could reply to his detractors in verse, but he refuses, because slanderers are punished by their own actions. Nastus confirms, saying that, by responding to slander, one indirectly confesses to have felt the injuries, and thus give satisfaction to the detractors. When Author asks Nastus and Polyposus to leave him because he has a sudden jolt of inspiration and wants to turn to writing a tragedy, Nastus says he respects these poetic raptures and obeys them. Nastus exits with Polyposus.

NEOPTOLEMUS

Only mentioned. In the Iliad, Neoptolemus (also called Pyrrhus) was the son of Achilles. He entered Troy in a wooden horse and slew Priam, king of Troy. When Tucca enters Albius's house as his guest, he calls Albius noble Neoptolemus, probably alluding flatteringly to the jeweler's leading position among the tradesmen in Rome.

NOMENTANUS

Only mentioned. In Horace's Book I, Satire viii, Nomentanus and Pantolabus are named in relation to the graves belonging to them. They are fictitious semi-historical characters invented by Horace, such as Canidia, Bolanus, Persius, and Scaeva. Pantolabus was a buffoon and Nomentanus was a spendthrift and a parasite. Horace's ironical temper induced him to treat the follies of society in the spirit of a humorist and man of the world, rather than to assail vice with the severity of a censor. The greater urbanity of his age or of his disposition restrained in him the direct personality of satire. The names introduced by him to mark types of character such as Nomentanus (the parasite) or Pantolabus (the buffoon) are reproduced from the writings of Lucilius. In Author's apology, which quotes Horace's Satire i, Book II, Trebatius advises Horace it is better to write verses praising Caesar's virtue than write satires that abuse the powerful of the day. Trebatius offers the example of Pantolabus, who might feel hurt by Horace's serious verse while performing his saucy jests, and Nomentanus, who spends his life in riotous feasts.

OEDIPUS

Only mentioned. In ancient Greek legend, Oedipus was the king of Thebes. He unwittingly killed his father and married his mother, Jocasta. When he realized his deed, Oedipus put out his eyes. A blind and helpless outcast, Oedipus wandered away with his faithful daughter Antigone. On the Via Sacra in Rome, Tucca wants to pick up a fight and sees Histrio. Tucca sends one of his boys to accost the player and bring him there. When Histrio enters, he apologizes for not having seen the gentleman and Tucca reprimands him, calling Histrio an Oedipus, an allusion to his seeming blindness.

ORPHEUS

Only mentioned. Orpheus was a legendary poet and musician of ancient Greece. Apollo gave him the lyre and the Muses instructed him. Orpheus enchanted men, beasts, and even trees with his music. He was called Father of Song. When Tucca listens to Crispinus's song, apparently dedicated to ChloŽ, he calls the poetaster another Orpheus.

OVID

Publius Ovidius (Ovid) is in his study, meditating on the immortality of poetry. Luscus enters, urging his young master to leave his poetry and take the law book because his father is on his way to see him. Ovid Senior enters and he blames his son for showing an inclination to poetry and drama, instead of studying law. In order to placate his father, Ovid promises he will endeavor to study law poetically. Tibullus enters and finds Ovid writing law cases in verse. The poet brings Ovid a letter from Julia, informing him about an assignment at Albius's house. Ovid praises Julia's beauty in verse. At Albius's house, Ovid enters with the poets and their ladies. When Albius calls ChloŽ out on some household pretext, the guests feel free to speak openly about love. Ovid agrees with Gallus that it is an act of audacity for them to try to meet their mistresses secretly. After light conversation and music, the guests depart for the banquet hall. Ovid disguised as Jupiter enters an apartment in the palace, together with the entire party of poets and their ladies, each characteristically dressed as gods and goddesses. All the masks play their assigned roles. During the entertainment presided by Ovid/Jupiter, he blatantly pretends to court ChloŽ/Venus in order to make Julia/Juno jealous. During the revelry, Ovid/Jupiter alludes to his feelings for Julia/Juno. When Caesar enters and rails at the debauched party, Ovid does not reply and he hears his sentence of banishment from Rome. Ovid enters an open space before the palace, deploring his disgrace. Julia appears at her chamber window, expressing her wish to share his fate. Ovid deters her, speaking of spiritual beauty and the immortality of love. Ovid and Julia say farewell, and Ovid finally exits after Julia retires from the window.

OVID SENIOR

Marcus Ovidius is Ovid's father. At Ovid's house in Rome, Ovid Senior enters followed by Lupus, Tucca, and Luscus. Ovid Senior is displeased with his son's inclination towards poetry, since he envisaged a law career for him. When he enters, Ovid Senior hears the last words of his son's meditation on the immortality of poetry, to the effect that his name will live forever. The father picks up the idea, says that, indeed, his name will be infamous forever, and the best and the gravest Romans will condemn it. Ovid Senior tells his son that he heard of his latest tragedy, Medea, and says he would rather see his son on the funeral pyre than a stager to be laughed at. Ovid Senior stresses the fact that Ovid, as a younger son, should study law and leave the unprofitable poetry, which has made nobody a rich man. Ovid Senior dares his son to name a poet whose immortal divinity could feed him while he lived, or his great name could give him material wealth. After having lectured to his son on the benefits of law against poetry, Ovid Senior exits with Lupus.

OVIDIUS

Family name of Ovid (Publius Ovidius) and his father, Marcus, otherwise known as Ovid Senior.

PALLAS ATHENA

Cytheris is disguised as Pallas at the masquerade banquet at court. Pallas Athena was the Greek goddess of wisdom. The Romans identified her as Minerva and ranked her third among the gods, after Jupiter and Juno. During the entertainment presided by Ovid/Jupiter, Cytheris/Pallas does not speak, but it is understood she enjoys the revelry. When Caesar enters and rails at the debauched party banishing Ovid, it is understood that Cytheris/Pallas shares the fate of Julia and the other ladies. They are silent and subdued.

PANTOLABUS

Only mentioned. Pantolabus is a buffoon. Horace names Pantolabus and Nomentanus in Satire viii, Book I. He is a fictitious semi-historical character in Horace, such as Canidia, Bolanus, Persius, Scaeva. Pantolabus is a foolish clown and probably corresponds to Crispinus in the play. When Tucca wants to introduce Crispinus to Histrio, he asks the player if he knows that Pantolabus there. In his dialogue with Horace, which is part of the Author's apology quoting Horace's Satire i, Book II, Trebatius advises the poet against writing satires and in favor of composing poems in praise of Caesar. Trebatius argues that, instead of hurting Pantolabus, who is railing in his saucy jests, Horace could write poems in praise of Caesar's virtue.

PENELOPE

Only mentioned. Penelope is a character in the Odyssey, wife of Odysseus, proverbial for patient faithfulness. When Tucca enters Albius's house as his guest, he names Albius after several noble celebrities of classical antiquity, and he gives ChloŽ the names of mythological goddesses and legendary women. Among others, he calls ChloŽ a Penelope. By linking ChloŽ's name to those of the great names of famous women in classical mythology and literature, Tucca wants to suggest that ChloŽ is a muse of poetic inspiration, like the other women who inspired the poets of Ovid's school.

PHYSICIAN

A "fictional character." The physician supposedly treating Horace's fabricated sick friend. When Horace wants to disentangle himself from Crispinus's irritating company, he pretends he is visiting a friend who lives on the far side of the Tiber, by Caesar's Gardens, and who is sick of the plague. In order to dissuade Crispinus from following him, Horace says he must speak first to his friend's physician, then go to his apothecary to get some medicines.

PINDARUS

Only mentioned. Pindarus (7th century BC) was a poet from Thebes who studied under Corinna and wrote odes and lyrics to the victories of the Olympian Games. On of the most recited ones is the one about Diagaorus who was an old athlete, and whose three sons won at the Olympic Games, causing Diagaorus to die of joy. After Virgil has Crispinus take an emetic to throw up his bad words, he then prescribes Crispinus to observe a strict and wholesome diet. Virgil suggests ironically that Crispinus should read, with a tutor, the best Greek authors, among whom Virgil mentions Pindarus.

PLAUTIA

Plautia is a lady in Rome, Tibullus's mistress. The poet dedicated verses to her under the name of Delia. At Albius's house, Plautia enters with the other poets and their ladies. Plautia accompanies Julia to Albius's house because she wants to meet her lover Tibullus. However, Plautia is silent during the conversation. Only when Ovid shows sympathy at Propertius's grief for the recent death of his mistress, Plautia joins Julia and Cytheris is praising the immortality of true love. After light conversation and music, the guests depart for the banquet hall. Plautia disguised as Ceres enters an apartment in the palace, together with the entire party of poets and their ladies, each characteristically dressed as gods and goddesses. All the masks play their assigned roles. During the entertainment presided by Ovid/Jupiter, Plautia/Ceres does not speak, but it is understood she enjoys the revelry. When Caesar enters and rails at the debauched party and banishes Ovid, it is understood that Plautia shares the fate of Julia and the other ladies. They are silent and subdued.

PLAUTUS

Only mentioned. Titus Maccius Plautus was a third-century BC Roman comic poet and dramatist. Plautus followed Menander's pattern in comedy. Twenty of his farcical plays have been preserved more or less intact through the centuries, making him one of the world's chief dramatic influences. His plots, which he borrowed from the Greek comic poets, have furnished inspiration for later playwrights. Many of the stock-characters of the present-day comic stage are adaptations of the types Plautus took from the Greek comedy. After Virgil has Crispinus take an emetic to throw up his bad words he then prescribes Crispinus to observe a strict and wholesome diet, taking each morning a dose of Old Cato's principles and Terence's phrases. However, Virgil suggests ironically that Crispinus should avoid Plautus because he is meat too harsh for a weak stomach.

POLYPHAGUS

A "ghost character." Polyphagus is a voracious player in Histrio's troupe. His name signifies "eat all" and is not a desired guest at a banquet. When Tucca invites himself for supper at Histrio's expense, he tells the player not to bring the lean Polyphagus with him, because the glutton will eat a leg of mutton while Tucca is at his porridge. Tucca says Polyphagus's belly is like Barathrum, a mythological name for mother earth or hell, and he looks like a midwife in a man's apparel.

POLYPOSUS

Polyposus and Nastus are engaged in an apologetic dialogue with the Author, placed outside the play and addressed to the reader. The reader is asked to judge directly the conflicting situation created as a result of unfair detraction against Author. At Author's lodgings, Polyposus says that Author must be affected with the libels perpetrated against him. According to Polyposus, these detractions are such bitter things that Author cannot choose but be sour, whether he is guilty or not. Polyposus and Nastus enter Author's study and listen to his monologue about how he is not affected by his enemies' envious attacks. Polyposus and Nastus discover themselves, and Polyposus argues that most people think that Author is hurt by these attacks. When Author says that his play's only fault was that it belonged to him, Polyposus brings in the critics' arguments. He says that critics interpreted the play as exposing public figures to ridicule each by their particular names. Thus, the play shows lawyers, captains, and players on stage. Author responds he ridiculed individual cases, not the professions presented, and he concludes he will not answer the libels and give satisfaction to his detractors. Polyposus infers that, by not answering the calumny, Author is undone before the world, but Author calls public opinion a bawd. Polyposus interprets Author's non-interfering position as either stupidity or tameness. When Author asks Nastus and Polyposus to leave him because he has a sudden jolt of inspiration and wants to turn to writing a tragedy, Polyposus exits with Nastus.

PRIAPUS

Only mentioned. On the Via sacra in Rome, Tucca manages to save Crispinus from being arrested for debt. Moreover, he manages to make the gullible Minos pay for a fictional play-writing enterprise, commissioning Crispinus to write a play against Horace. Satisfied with himself, Tucca invites everyone to make peace, take their hands, and honor the gods sometimes. The gods Tucca proposes to be honored are Bacchus, Comus, Priapus, who patronize alcoholism, debauchery, and sexual excess. In Greek and Roman mythology, Priapus was the god of fertility and reproduction. Horace's Satire viii is entitled Priapus.

PROLOGUE

Prologue appears after the third sounding, as Envy is descending slowly into hell. Prologue wears an armor and challenges Envy to a fight. Prologue says he must set his foot on the monster's head before she flees away, so that Spite should die, defeated by noble industry. Prologue claims that, in these dangerous times, writers must be armed against the deceitful means of base detractors and illiterate apes. Prologue's armor symbolizes Author's allegorical defense because, he says, a well-erected confidence can fight the detractors' pride and can laugh away their folly. Ben Jonson was involved in literary and even personal quarrels with his fellow authors and this poetomachia originates in the satirical references, apparently to Jonson, contained in The Scourge of Villainy. This is a satire in regular form after the manner of the ancients by John Marston, a fellow playwright, subsequent friend and collaborator of Jonson's. Jonson's Poetaster was written in fifteen weeks, on a report that his enemies had entrusted to Dekker the preparation of Satiromastix, the Untrussing of the Humorous Poet, a dramatic attack upon Jonson. Prologue speaks in Author's name and says that he should, therefore, swear that his play is good, thus defeating his detractors. However, Prologue says, Author implores that the audience should not consider him arrogant if he acts this way, because he hates such full-blown vanity even more than dejection. Consequently, Author is going to pursue the middle way because he knows the strength of his Muse. According to Prologue, Author rather pities than envies all those who do not agree with his positive stance and thinks that his confident position is superior to all his detractors' injuries. After presenting Author's view, Prologue exits.

PROMETHEUS

Only mentioned. In Greek mythology, Prometheus was one of the Titans, a race of giants. By giving fire to mankind, he saved them from annihilation by Zeus. For this, Zeus bound him to a rock, where a huge bird preyed on his liver, which was devoured and renewed daily. Eventually, Hercules freed him and later myths say Prometheus created man. When Caesar praises the value of poetry, he says that without the inward fires of inspiration, the best men are hollow statues, devoid of the Promethean stuffing reached from heaven. The fire of inspiration is compared to the divine fire that Prometheus stole from the gods and gave to the humans.

PROPERTIUS, SEXTUS

Sextus Propertius is a poet in Rome, friend of Ovid. In a discussion with his father, Ovid promises he will do anything his father wants him to, including the study of law, and he promises to run the legal rugged lines as smooth as Propertius's elegies. At Ovid's house in Rome, Ovid and Tibullus discuss about the ladies who inspired their love verses. Tibullus informs Ovid that Propertius grieves for his beloved Cynthia's death. At Albius's house, Propertius enters with the other poets and their ladies. When Albius calls ChloŽ out on some household pretext, the guests feel free to speak openly about love. Since Ovid tells his friend Sextus that he is not sociable, Propertius responds that his mind is sick and he is not a good companion. Propertius is grieving for his beloved lady Cynthia, recently deceased. When his friends try to cheer him up, Propertius says they cannot feel the weight of his oppression, and it is easier to talk poetically about suffering rather than bear it. Propertius exits in mourning. When Horace comes to Albius's house to escort ChloŽ and Cytheris to a masquerade ball at court, he announces that their melancholic friend Propertius has locked himself in Cynthia's tomb and would not come out.

PUBLIUS OVIDIUS

Alternate name for Ovid.

PYRGUS

Pyrgus is a boy employed by Tucca. At Ovid's house in Rome, while Ovid Senior is lecturing to his son about the material benefits of studying law, Pyrgus enters and whispers something to Tucca. Luscus notices the trick, saying in an aside that this boy has been waiting outside for his cue. When Tucca insists that he should speak out, Pyrgus says that Agrippa asks Tucca to forbear his debt till the next week. Actually, this is a ruse devised by Tucca to show Ovid Senior and Lupus that he expects some money from an incoming debt, but he needs a loan in the meantime. After delivering his lines, Pyrgus shows his contempt for his master's shamelessness in an aside. When Tucca needs him no more, Pyrgus is dispatched. At the masquerade banquet at court, Pyrgus is disguised as Ganymede, the gods' cup bearer, and he serves the masked gods and goddesses their wine. When Caesar enters and rails at the licentious revelers, Pyrgus/Ganymede exits with Tucca/Mars. In a street before the palace, Pyrgus enters following Tucca and Crispinus, who discuss about Ovid and Julia's disgrace. Since Tucca boasts that he envisages daring Horace to a fight, Pyrgus warns his master that the poet is approaching. On seeing Horace, the coward Tucca salutes him sheepishly and passes by. Pyrgus exits following his master.

PYTHAGORAS

Only mentioned. Pythagoras was a sixth-century BC Greek philosopher who believed in the transmigration of soul after death from one body to another. Pythagoras and his followers believed that number was the basis of harmony in the universe and they invented a numerical and geometrical symbolism. When the poets of Horace's group discover that Crispinus has grossly plagiarized his love ditty out of Horace, they show their disgust at the poetaster's impudence, while Tucca and Demetrius denounce Horace's supposed arrogance. Hearing them, Gallus wishes Horace had stayed behind to hear his name soiled by poetasters. Tibullus replies that these slanderers would have turned Pythagoreans then. The reference is to one characteristic of the Pythagorean esoteric school, namely the rite of silence. Tibullus adds that Crispinus and Demetrius would have been as mute as fishes, implying that the poetasters are cowards when confronted with Horace's genius directly.

PYTHON

Only mentioned. In Greek mythology, Python was a deadly serpent that lived in the hills near Delphi. The legend says that one of the earliest deeds of young Apollo was the slaying of Python. Phoebus Apollo used one of his golden arrows to kill the serpent. When Horace wants to disentangle himself from Crispinus's irritating and impudent conversation, Horace invokes Phoebus, the archer of heaven, to take his bow and nail to earth this Python. By Comparing the poetaster to the serpent Python, Horace alludes to Crispinus's deceitfulness, loquacity and impertinence.

RHADAMANTUS

A "fictional character." Rhadamantus is the fictional apothecary supposed to treat Horace's invented sick Friend. This apothecary is one Rhadamantus, Horace says, a just judge in hell, who inflicts strange vengeance on those here on earth and torments the poor patient spirits. Horace's allusion is to the mythological Rhadamantus, one of the two judges in hell, next to Minos.

SABELLA

A "fictional character." Sabella is a prophetess. When Horace wants to disentangle himself from Crispinus's irritating conversation, he alludes to tedious talkers. Horace invents a cunning woman called Sabella (probably a corruption of Sybil), who cast his fortune when he was a child. According to Horace, Sabella prophesied that he would not perish by famine, poison, or sword, but by a strong and tiresome talker, whose conversation will affect Horace so badly that he would develop consumption and die. In ancient legend, a woman who could predict the future was called Sybil. These prophetesses were believed to be inspired by the gods and were found primarily in the famous oracle centers, particularly those of Apollo, the Greek god of prophecy. Horace's deliberate corruption of Sybil into Sabella is an irony directed at Crispinus.

SCIPIO AEMILIANUS, PUBLIUS CORNELIUS

Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus was a Roman general, the adopted grandson of Scipio Africanus Major. He destroyed Carthage in 146, and subdued Spain in 133. He was opposed to his brothers-in-law, the Gracchi. In the second Punic War, Scipio was supposed to be represented as a vir perfectus–like Aeneas in Vergil's epos. Scipio was the mentor of a literary circle including the poets of satire. In his dialogue with Trebatius, which is part of Author's apology, and which quotes Horace's Satire i, Book II, Horace says he cannot praise Caesar's victories in his poems, because Caesar's wars cannot be fought with words. Then, Trebatius, who advocates for Horace writing verses that praise Caesar instead of satires, gives Horace an alternative. Horace could write of Caesar's virtue, showing him in a favorable light, as honored Scipio does.

SOPHOCLES

Only mentioned. Sophocles (496–406 BC) was the second of the three great Greek writers of tragic drama during the fifth century BC. Of the other two, Aeschilus preceded him and Euripides was his successor. Sophocles is believed to have written 123 dramas, but only seven have survived. Fragments of lost plays and poems also exist. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that Sophocles will live forever through his work, as long as the sun, the moon, or Mount Aratus remain on earth.

TERENCE

Only mentioned. Publius Terentius Afer (Terence) (195–159 BC) was a writer of comedy. Born an African slave in Carthage, he was brought to Rome as a slave, became a member of the Scipionic circle of Scipio Africanus the Younger, which included Laelius and the satirist Lucilius. Among his major plays are Andria, the earliest of Terence's comedies, Hauton Timorumenos (The Self-Tormentor), Eunuchs, Terence's greatest financial success, Phormio, and Adelphi, considered Terence's masterpiece. After Virgil has Crispinus take an emetic to throw up his bad words, he then prescribes Crispinus to observe a strict and wholesome diet, taking each morning a dose of Old Cato's principles, walk a while till it be digested, then taste a piece of Terence. Virgil suggests that Crispinus should take Terence's phrases instead of medicine.

THISBE

Only mentioned. Thisbe is the heroine of the classical Greek legend of Pyramus and Thisbe. The story is narrated in Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book IV. Pyramus was the handsomest youth, and Thisbe the fairest maiden in all Babylonia, where Semiramis reigned. Their parents occupied adjoining houses, neighborhood brought the young people together, and acquaintance ripened into love. By a misunderstanding, Pyramus thought his Thisbe dead, and he killed himself. When Thisbe found her dead lover's body, she stabbed herself with his sword. The story of the young lovers ends tragically and the red mulberry tree is a symbol of their love. When Tucca refers to ChloŽ as Thisbe, he deplores her sad fate, namely that of having such a boorish husband. Paradoxically, Tucca compares ChloŽ's unfortunate fate of having a homely husband with Thisbe's tragic fate of dying for her love.

THEOCRITE

Only mentioned. Theocritus (c.310–250BC) was born in Syracuse, lived on the island Kos, and spent time in Egypt under Ptolemy II. Theocritus was the creator of pastoral poetry. He wrote about shepherd life and about life in the cities, as well as mythology. After Virgil has Crispinus take an emetic to throw up his bad words, he then prescribes Crispinus to observe a strict and wholesome diet. Virgil suggests ironically that Crispinus should read, with a tutor, the best classical authors, among whom Virgil mentions Theocrite.

TIBULLUS

Tibullus is a poet in Rome and a friend of Ovid. Tibullus enters Ovid's house in Rome, apparently to take him for a walk, but he brings Ovid a letter from Julia. At Albius's house, Tibullus enters with the other poets and their ladies. When Albius calls ChloŽ out on some household pretext, the guests feel free to speak openly about love. Like Ovid, Tibullus has come to Albius's house to meet his mistress Plautia socially. After light conversation and music, the guests depart for the banquet hall. At Albius's house, Tibullus and Gallus enter, prepared to escort ChloŽ and Cytheris to a masquerade ball at court, at Princess Julia's invitation. When Crispinus sings a poem apparently dedicated to ChloŽ as Canidia, Gallus discovers it is plagiarized from Horace and the poets start to argue. Tibullus exits with the entire party to the ball at court. Tibullus disguised as Bacchus enters an apartment in the palace, together with the entire party of poets and their ladies, each characteristically dressed as gods and goddesses. All the masks play their assigned roles. During the entertainment presided by Ovid/Jupiter, Tibullus/Bacchus enjoys the revelry. When Caesar enters and rails at the debauched party, it is understood that Tibullus shares the poets' disgrace. In an apartment at the Palace, Tibullus follows Caesar and his train, composed of Gallus, Horace, and Maecenas. Caesar announces he has pardoned Gallus and Tibullus because he needs poets in the city. Tibullus acknowledges his gratitude to Caesar and addresses him in flattering verses. Tibullus attends the public disgrace of the foolish Lupus and the braggart Tucca, as well as the poetasters' arraignment. When justice is served, Tibullus joins the chorus of the court poets, praising Caesar's justice and generosity and he exits with the court. The historical Albius Tibullus (54–19 BC) was a poet of ancient Rome. His poems deal mostly with love and country life. Tibullus was a Roman knight, remarkable for his good looks and conspicuous for his personal elegance. He holds an important place among the writers of elegy. Three books of elegy are transmitted under the name of Tibullus, but only the first two are certainly by him. Tibullus wrote love elegies to two mistresses, Delia (whose real name was Plautia) and Nemesis. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that Tibullus's love verses will be recited eternally, till Cupid's fires are out and his bow broken.

TITYRUS

Only mentioned. Tityrus is the shepherd in Virgil's Eclogue I. Meliboeus, observing Tityrus unabashedly reclining in the shade and composing pastoral verse in the face of the impending Roman incursion, inquires about the identity of the god that has provided his leisure. Tityrus expresses his feelings of how Rome, under the leadership of a powerful god therein, has raised her head among the other cities. Realizing that the increasing might of the Roman Empire, and its assimilation of foreign lands, has made possible the traversal of vast distances, Tityrus broods about the futility of trying to preserve their present pastoral realm as the specter of Rome approaches. Tityrus is often identified with Virgil himself. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that people will read of Tityrus as long as Rome is the head of the entire conquered world.

TREBATIUS

Trebatius is a lawyer in Rome and an adviser to Horace. He is a mute character in the play, but has a part in a dialogue with Horace in the Author's apology, quoted from Horace's Satire i, Book 2. When Tucca sees Trebatius in Horace's company on the Via Sacra, the braggart avoids him because he fears the lawyer's sagacity. Trebatius appears at the end of the play, in the author's apology, which is set in lieu of epilogue. Horace asks advice from Trebatius regarding his satires, which caricature the men of power in his time. Trebatius tells Horace to stop writing them, while Horace finds this radical measure an unfair muzzling of his muse. Trebatius says that it is better for Horace to stop writing incisive satires and thus have a quiet night's sleep. According to Trebatius, if Horace wants to write something, he should turn to composing odes praising Caesar's victories or his virtues in time of peace. Trebatius fears that, because of Horace's audacity in exposing vice in his satires, some great man's friend should be his death. The lawyer bids Horace to obey the laws, concluding that laughter is what makes satire bearable, because shame and reproach are quickly dissolved in laughter.

TUCCA, PANTILIUS

Pantilius Tucca is a braggart captain. According to Luscus, Tucca is a mad captain who would press everyone he meets with demands for money. Tucca enters Ovid's house following Ovid Senior and Lupus. When Lupus blames the players, who ridicule statesmen on stage, he includes himself and Tucca among those lampooned in the plays. Tucca adds that an honest decayed commander cannot cheat or be seen in a brothel without being the object of ridicule in one of the licentious comedies. Using flattery, Tucca manages to extort some money from Ovid Senior and exits. On the Via Sacra, Tucca enters when Crispinus is on the point of being arrested for debt. Tucca threatens and intimidates Minos, persuading him to be content with a quarter of Crispinus's debt and give everybody a drink. Tucca exits discreetly when he sees Horace and Trebatius, apparently wishing o avoid the lawyer. At Albius'' house, Tucca enters with his host, being introduced by Crispinus. Tucca courts ChloŽ blatantly and takes Crispinus's part when the poets discover he has plagiarized Horace. Tucca disguised as Mars enters an apartment in the palace, together with the entire party of poets and their ladies, each characteristically dressed as gods and goddesses. All the masks play their assigned roles. During the entertainment presided by Ovid/Jupiter, Tucca/Mars courts ChloŽ/Venus. When Caesar enters and rails at the ribald party, Tucca makes himself scarce. While Caesar is holding court with the poets, Tucca enters following Lupus, who claims to disclose a plot against Caesar's life. Lupus's gross misrepresentation is exposed and Tucca lays the blame on Aesop, the player-politician. When Lupus and Aesop are chased away in disgrace, Tucca pretends he sustained Lupus against Horace because he wanted to frighten the poet and Maecenas, whom he loved. Caesar orders Tucca gagged and helmeted, in order to keep silent and calumniate no more. Lictors take Tucca away.

VARRO

Only mentioned. Marcus Terentius Varro (116–27 BC) was a Roman historian and soldier, one of the most learned Romans. Among his major works are Antiquitates, Disciplinae, an encyclopedia of the liberal arts, De ora maritima, a work on geography, Res rusticae, a work on agriculture, and Saturae Menippae, a satire in verse intermingled with prose. When Ovid praises the immortality of poetry, he says that Varro will live forever through his work, as long as people will hear of the great legends of old, such as Jason's Argus and the fleece of gold.

VENUS

Venus figures twice in the play.
  • ChloŽ is disguised as Venus at the masquerade banquet at court. Venus/ChloŽ enters with Ovid's party and she takes part in the revelry presided by Ovid/Jupiter, in which Albius plays Vulcan and Tucca is Mars. ChloŽ's vanity makes her feel ashamed of her homely husband and fall in admiration to Tucca's pomposity, so there is a similarity of symbolism to the mythological character ChloŽ embodies. Like ChloŽ, Venus did not like her crippled but skilled husband Vulcan, and admired the pugnacious god of war, Mars. During the party at court, ChloŽ/Venus does not speak, but Tucca/Mars is courting her insistently. At the same time, Ovid/Jupiter pretends to court ChloŽ/Venus only to make Julia/Juno jealous. When Caesar enters railing against the debauched banquet, ChloŽ introduces herself meekly and exits with her husband.
  • The goddess is only mentioned. Venus is the Roman name of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. When Tucca enters Albius's house as his guest, he names Albius after several noble celebrities of classical antiquity, and he gives ChloŽ the names of mythological goddesses. Among others, he calls ChloŽ a Venus, thus anticipating the disguise ChloŽ is going to take at the masquerade banquet at court, where she appears as Venus.

VESTA

Only mentioned. In Roman mythology, Vesta was the goddess of heath and home. Her Greek counterpart is Hestia. Vesta was a revered goddess in Rome and her priestesses were sworn to virginity. When Tucca enters Albius's house as his guest, he names Albius after several noble celebrities of classical antiquity, and he gives ChloŽ the names of mythological goddesses. Among others, he calls ChloŽ a Vesta. Since ChloŽ is far from being an innocent virgin maid, as a Vestal priestess, the allusion to ChloŽ as Vesta is ironic.

VIRGIL

Virgilius Maro (Virgil) is a court poet in Rome, friend of Maecenas and Horace and honored by Caesar. In an apartment in the palace, Caesar holds court. When Virgil is announced, Caesar orders a seat to be placed at his right side, informing the others that Virgil has just returned from Campania, where he had been working on his Aeneid. In order to test the other poets' virtue, Caesar asks Horace if he feels envy at his colleague's success, and Horace responds generously. When he is asked to express his opinion about Virgil, Horace says his fellow poet has a bright reason and a refined spirit, showing sobriety and self-righteousness. Gallus adds his own laudatory comments about Virgil, saying that he is modest and does not like his merits to be praised grandiloquently. Tibullus says that Virgil's verses are distilled by observation and infused with practical spirit, and therefore fit for pedagogical purposes. As for his learning, Horace says that Virgil does not display blatant glossy scholarship, but an efficient analytic form of erudition, which infiltrates his poetry with life. When Virgil enters, Caesar greets him as his peer and asks him about the Aeneid. Virgil answers modestly that the poem is not worthy of Caesar's eye and expectation. At Caesar's request, Virgil reads from his Aeneid the passage describing the monster Envy bearing numberless eyes on its plumed body. The reading is interrupted by Lupus's sudden entrance, announcing a suspected plot against Caesar's life. When Lupus's spiteful accusations have been refuted and the fools punished, Virgil applauds Caesar's justice. When Crispinus and Demetrius are charged with calumny and plagiarism, Virgil concludes that, where there is true merit, there can be no dejection. Virgil is the judge at the poetasters' arraignment. When justice is served, Vergil joins the chorus of the court poets, praising Caesar's justice and generosity, and he exits with the court.

VIRGILIUS MARO

Alternate name for Virgil.

VULCAN

Albius is disguised as Vulcan at the masquerade banquet at court. In Roman mythology, Vulcan was the god of fire and metalworking, identified with the Greek god Hephaestus. He was the son of Jupiter and Juno, crippled by being hurled to earth by Jupiter. In some stories, he married Venus, the goddess of love. According to legend, since Venus was too proud and rejected all the gods' love, to punish her, Jupiter gave Venus to Vulcan, the lame and ugly god of forge. Venus soon left him for Mars, the handsome god of war. Since ChloŽ is disguised as Venus and Tucca as Mars, the mythological associations parallel the real or fictional love couples in the revelry. When Ovid/Jupiter announces the order of the licentious festival, Albius/Vulcan is the first to play the fool and be cuckolded in the game. Thus, Tucca/Mars starts courting ChloŽ/Venus openly. Even in his role as Vulcan, Albius preserves his tendency towards kindness and discretion. While Tucca/Mars is making him a cuckold, all that Albius/Vulcan says is that the slave boy does not fill enough wine to make people kind enough to one another. While wine/nectar has a totally opposite effect on Tucca/Mars, inciting him to aggressiveness, Albius/Vulcan sees how wine has a drowsy effect on everyone at the party. As the spirits are high, Albius/Vulcan sings about the dangers of being drowsy, in a futile attempt to wake the revelers. When the angry Caesar interrupts the party, Albius/Vulcan responds to the emperor that he merely plays Vulcan, but he is a citizen and a jeweler. Albius/Vulcan exits with ChloŽ/Venus.