Thomas May
JULIA AGRIPPINA, EMPRESS OF ROME

1628

a synoptic, alphabetical character list

ACERONIA

A "ghost character." Aceronia is drowned in the boating accident instead of Agrippina.

ACTE

Acte is a freedwoman with whom Otho pretends to be in love so that Nero will not see Poppaea and discover how beautiful she is. Nero therefore takes her as his mistress, and his wife Octavia complains of her gloating behavior.

AELIA PETINA

A "ghost character," mentioned by Narcissus as the woman he had hoped Claudius would marry instead of Agrippina.

AELIUS

A "ghost character." Pallas promises Agrippina that he, along with Publius Celerius, will poison Silanus.

[JULIA] AGRIPPINA

Agrippina is the wife (and niece) of the Emperor Claudius and the mother (by her previous marriage) of Nero, for whose succession she schemes mercilessly with her lover Pallas, poisoning Claudius to ensure it. She is also responsible for several other murders. She is, however, kind to Octavia, and when Nero turns against her she also attempts to protect Britannicus. She is unsuccessful in this and, after surviving a boating accident, she is stabbed by Anicetus on the orders of Nero. n.b. In Roman history, she is known as Julia Agrippina minor. Her mother, Julia Agrippina major, was married to Germanicus.

A[H]ENOBARBUS

A "ghost character," mentioned as the father of Nero. The name is variously spelled.

AGERINUS

Agerinus is a servant of Agrippina who comes to tell Nero that she did not drown in the boating accident. Anicetus drops a knife behind him and accuses him of treason; he is taken away to be executed.

AGRIPPA

A "ghost character," mentioned as a great Roman of the past.

ANICETUS

Anicetus is Nero's loyal servant. He plans the boating accident and, when that fails, stabs Agrippina.

ANTONIA

A "ghost character." Antonia was the daughter of Mark Antony, the mother of Claudius and Germanicus, and the grandmother of Agrippina and Caligula. Nero wants Agrippina to move into the house that was once Antonia's.

[MARK] ANTONY

A "ghost character," mentioned as a great Roman of the past.

ASINIUS POLLIO

Asinius Pollio is a Senator and an agent of Pallas. He later becomes Consul.

AUGUSTA

Title applied to the Empress Julia Agrippina.

AUGUSTUS

The Emperor Augustus [Octavius, first Emperor of Rome] is a "ghost character," frequently mentioned; "Augustus" is also used as a title for the current Emperor, Claudius.

BRITANNICUS

As the only son of the Emperor Claudius, Britannicus expects to succeed, but Seneca persuades the Senate to pass him over in favor of Nero on the grounds that the latter is older. Britannicus is resentful, and when Nero invites him to sing at a party he suggests that the song should be about the wrongs he has suffered. He is then poisoned by Locusta on Nero's orders.

BURRHUS AFRANIUS

Burrhus Afranius is appointed commander of the Praetorian guard at the instigation of Agrippina and Pallas, and although he is an upright man subsequently persuades the soldiers to accept Nero as Emperor. Together with Seneca, he then conspires to encourage Nero to persuade Agrippina to withdraw from affairs of state, which leads Agrippina to quarrel with Nero, who therefore has her murdered. Burrhus has only one hand.

CAIUS

The formal name of Caligula, sometimes used of him here.

CALIGULA

The ghost of the former Emperor Caligula speaks part of the Prologue, along with the fury Megaera. He prophesies that Nero will be a worse emperor even than himself. n.b. "Caligula" is a nickname meaning "little boots."

CALPHURNIA

A "ghost character." Because Claudius admired her, Agrippina banished her.

CARACTACUS

A "ghost character," mentioned by Claudius as having been sent as a prisoner from Britain.

CASSIUS

A "ghost character," mentioned as a great Roman of the past.

CATO

A "ghost character," mentioned as a great Roman of the past.

CICERO

A "ghost character," mentioned by Seneca as having approved of Caesar's Commentaries.

CLAUDIUS CAESAR

Although he is noted as having built aqueducts and conquered Britain, Claudius is essentially the dupe of Agrippina and Pallas, who diagnoses his dominant passion as fear. Eventually he is persuaded by Narcissus to act against Agrippina, but he reveals this to her when drunk, and she poisons him.

COTTA MESSALINUS

A "ghost character," mentioned as the uncle of Lollia Paulina.

CURIUS

A "ghost character," mentioned as a noble Roman of old.

DOMITIUS A[HE]NOBARBUS

Nero's given name.

FABRIT[I]US

A "ghost character," mentioned as a noble Roman of old.

FULVIA

Poppaea's maid.

GALLA

Galla is one of Agrippina's servants, who, along with the others, forsakes her at the end.

GALLUS

A "ghost character." Gallus dies in the boating accident that was meant to kill Agrippina.

GERMANICUS

A "ghost character," mentioned as the father of Agrippina. He was the Emperor Claudius's brother and father also to Caligula.

HIRTIUS

A "ghost character," mentioned by Seneca as having approved of Caesar's Commentaries.

JUGURTHA

A "ghost character," mentioned as having been made captive by Rome.

JULIUS CAESAR

A "ghost character," mentioned as a great Roman of the past.

LEPIDUS

A "ghost character," mentioned as a great Roman of the past.

LIVIA

A "ghost character," mentioned as Britannicus's ancestor.

LOCUSTA

Locusta is employed by Nero to poison Britannicus.

LOLLIA PAULINA

A "ghost character." Lollia Paulina was formerly the wife of the Emperor Caligula and had hoped to marry Claudius. Agrippina therefore had her banished from Italy. During the action of the play, she sends servants to bring back Lollia Paulina's head, which they do.

LUCIUS GETA

Along with Rufus Crispinus, Lucius Geta commands the Praetorian Guard until he is dismissed at the instigation of Agrippina. He subsequently flees to the country.

LUCIUS SILANUS

(Also called Silenus). Lucius Silanus is a member of the Imperial family who was betrothed to Claudius's daughter Octavia. In order that Nero could marry her instead, Lucius Silanus was deposed from the Praetorship by Vitellius and subsequently killed.

LUCIUS SYLLA

A "ghost character," mentioned by Agrippina as offering a precedent for her ambition to both rule and write.

MEGAERA

Megaera, one of the Furies, speaks the first part of the Prologue. Caligula speaks the second.

MESSALINA

A "ghost character." Messalina was the previous wife of Claudius, whom he executed for infidelity, and the mother of Britannicus and Octavia.

MNESTER

Mnester is one of Agrippina's servants, who, along with the others, forsakes her at the end.

[CURTIUS] MONTANUS

Montanus is a friend of Otho and is introduced to Nero by him, becoming one of Nero's drinking companions.

NARCISSUS

Narcissus is a freedman of Claudius who has stayed loyal to him and wishes to secure the succession of Britannicus. To this end he advises Claudius to execute Agrippina. When Claudius is murdered, he flees to Campania, where Agrippina has him killed.

NERO

Nero, born Domitius A[he]nobarbus, is the son of Agrippina. He has been adopted by Claudius, and through his mother's scheming eventually becomes Claudius's successor as Emperor. He takes first Acte and then Poppaea from his friend Otho, neglecting his wife Octavia in the process, and orders the deaths of first Britannicus and then Agrippina in his bid to consolidate his power. n.b. Nero is a nickname, a cognomen of the Claudian family that Agrippina bestowed upon him to stress and strengthen his Claudian relationship. It had also been a cognomen of the emperor Tiberius. His regnal name was Nero Claudius Caesar.

OCTAVIA

Daughter of Claudius, wife of Nero, and sister of Britannicus. Octavia is virtuous and patient, though she does resent Acte's high-handed treatment of her.

OLOARITUS

Oloaritus comes with Anicetus to murder Agrippina.

OSTORIUS SCAPULA

A "ghost character," mentioned by Claudius as having sent prisoners from Britain.

[MARCUS SALVIUS] OTHO

Otho is the lover and subsequently the husband of Poppaea. When Nero himself desires Poppaea, Otho is sent as governor to Lusitania, though Seleucus prophesies that he will return and will one day be Emperor.

PALLAS

Pallas is the freedman of the Emperor Claudius and the lover of Agrippina, whom he abets in bringing Nero to power. When Nero turns against Agrippina, he dismisses Pallas from his post.

PERSEUS

A "ghost character," mentioned as having been made captive by Rome.

PETRONIUS

The Petronius of the play is Petronius Arbiter, author of The Satyricon. He is here presented as a friend of Otho, who introduces him to Nero. Petronius's praise of feasting leads Nero to order him to write a satire against it, upon which he reveals that he is already a satiric poet and recites some of his work.

POMPEY

A "ghost character," mentioned as a great Roman of the past.

POPPAEA

Poppaea is married to Rufus Crispinus but is having an affair with Otho, whom she is allowed to marry when Nero becomes Emperor. When Nero sees her, however, he falls in love with her himself, and Seleucus prophesies that she will ultimately become Empress.

PUBLIUS CELERIUS

A "ghost character." Pallas promises Agrippina that Publius Celerius, along with Aelius, will poison Silanus.

RUFUS CRISPINUS

Along with Lucius Geta, Rufus Crispinus commands the Praetorian Guard until he is dismissed at the instigation of Agrippina. He is also married to Poppaea until Nero orders her given to Otho, on which Crispinus retires to the country.

SALLUST

A "ghost character," mentioned by Agrippina as having written about Lucius Sylla.

SCAURUS

A "ghost character," mentioned as a noble Roman of old.

SCIPIO AFRICANUS

A "ghost character," mentioned as a great Roman of the past.

SELEUCUS

Seleucus is a Soothsayer who prophesies that Poppaea will become Empress and Otho Emperor.

[LUCIUS ANNAEUS] SENECA

Seneca, Nero's former tutor, is appointed to the Senate at Agrippina's instigation and persuades them to accept Nero as Emperor, but subsequently conspires with Burrhus Afranius to induce Nero to marginalize Agrippina because he thinks women should have no role in affairs of state.

SILANUS

The brother of Lucius Silanus, who has already been killed by Agrippina, Silanus is Proconsul of Asia. On Agrippina's orders, Pallas sends Publius Celerius and Aelius to murder him.

SILIUS

A "ghost character," mentioned by Vitellius as having attempted a coup against Claudius.

SOLDIERS

An unspecified number of soldiers attend of Nero until dismissed by Agrippina.

SYPHAX, KING OF NUMIDIA

A "ghost character," mentioned as having been made captive by Rome.

TIBERIUS

A "ghost character," mentioned as having offered a precedent for a Claudian to adopt.

TIRIDATES

A "ghost character." He is one of the two Princes of Armenia from whom Nero receives ambassadors in the Senate.

VITELLIUS

Vitellius is a Senator and an agent of Pallas.

VOLOGOSES

A "ghost character." He is one of the two Princes of Armenia from whom Nero receives ambassadors in the Senate.

XENOPHON

Xenophon, Claudius's doctor, is in the pay of Agrippina and conceals Claudius's death from Octavia and Britannicus.