George Chapman

The Wars of Pompey and Caesar

(II.i in its current form written around 1610–1611)

[Note: in making this list, I have drawn on other sources to clarify the events (and sometimes the names) of the play. I have used Caesar's The Civil Wars, in the Loeb edited prepared by A.G. Peskett; Dio Cassius's Roman History, in the Loeb by E. Cary; Lucan's The Civil War, in the Loeb by J.D. Duff; and a selection of Plutarch's Lives, in the Loeb by Bernadotte Perrin.

Names: I have followed the Dramatis Personae for the forms (and numbers) of characters' names, but listed characters under the name by which they appear in the play, with antecedent parts in brackets–e.g. (Marcus) Brutus, (Mark) Antony.]

a synoptic, alphabetical character list


A murderer, who, with Septimius and Salvus, murders Pompey in Lesbos in order to "take his head for Caesar." At the end, Caesar sends him and his confederates off to be tortured–instead of rewarding them, as they expected–and grants Brutus the right of putting them to death. Achillas, an Egyptian army commander who went on to wage war against Caesar in Egypt, was in fact the only one of the three to be executed: Plutarch, Life of Pompey 80.5 credits the death to Caesar, but Dio Cassius, Roman History XLII.40.1 and Lucan, The Civil War X 523, explains that he was later killed by order of Arsinoe, younger sister of Cleopatra.


A soldier of Caesar. His full name is Marcus Acilius Caninus, and he was one of Caesar's legates.


Antony is a devoted follower of Caesar. Before the war, he supports Caesar's bid to have his army admitted; once the fighting has started, he encourages his commander when he is depressed at his early tactical mistakes, and, later, urges him to go on after Pompey has refused peace. He is assigned a co-command with Caesar for the final battle.


A philosopher; friend of Cato who supports Pompey (qq.v). He supports Cato in his decision for suicide. Plutarch, Life of Cato the Younger X.1, names him Athenodorus of Cordylion, a Stoic.


A young aristocrat and a follower of Pompey, whom he sees as the strongest hope for the survival of Republican Rome. He finally surrenders to Caesar, surprising his father-in-law, Cato. When asked his opinion of Cato's suicide, Brutus condemns it, and is reprimanded for this by Caesar. He takes charge of the execution of Achillas, Salvius, and Septimius.


A servant of Cato. [Plutarch, Life of Cato 70.2, calls him Cato's "chief agent in public matters".]


Caesar is a great general, fiercely ambitious but complex. Although Chapman's "Argument" presents him as a villain, the play is much less straightforward. He is cunning: he sets up his henchmen, Mark Antony and the tribune Metellus, to demand that the Senate should allow Pompey to bring his army to Rome, so that they will be unable to deny the same privilege to himself; he is courageous–he insists on crossing the river Anio in order to continue the war, although he knows that Pompey's navy is all around and a storm is raging; and he is highly conscious of being blessed by fortune. He also has the generosity to be impressed by his opponents, e.g. Cato, and to praise them generously in their defeat. The play ends with his repudiation of Pompey's murder, and order that the murderers should be tortured.


Cato [the Younger] is an heroic patriot, devoted to the Republic, and a Stoic, with a keen interest in philosophy (he defends at length the surprisingly Christian argument that the body, like the soul, survives death). He favors Pompey, in the hope that he can save the Republic from Caesar. Unlike his son-in-law, Brutus, he stabs himself, at Utica, after Caesar's victory.


Physician to Cato.


The two consuls [unnamed: historically, they were Gaius Claudius Marcellus and Lucius Cornelius Lentulus] try to keep order in the Senate in Act I when Caesar and Pompey are violently arguing. When war begins, they side with Pompey; when he is defeated, they commit suicide.


Wife to Pompey–his fourth, and daughter of Metellus Scipio. After his defeat, the two have a touching reunion on the island of Lesbos, where he has sent her for safety and now seeks refuge himself. She sees her husband wounded by the murderers.


Soldier of Caesar; a brave fighter, who is killed by a sword-stroke in the face. Caesar promises him a tomb, and pronounces an epitaph for him. The historical character intended is Gaius Crastinus, a reservist in Caesar's army, who died in this way and is highly praised in Caesar's Civil Wars III 91, 99.


Young daughter of Pompey, sent for safety to Lesbos with her mother, Cornelia, and her brother, Sextus. She sees her father wounded by the murderers.


A Roman noble, supporter of Pompey. He escapes in disguise with Pompey to Lesbos, and is wounded trying to stop Pompey's murderers. Chapman's source for this character is not obvious. According to Plutarch, Life of Pompey 73.6, Favonius, a friend of Cato, attended Pompey at the end.


A servant of Cornelia.


"A ruined knave," who makes a deal with the devil Ophioneus in a brief comic scene at the beginning of Act II.


A Roman noble, supporter of Pompey.


The Kings of Iberia, Thessaly, Cicilia, Epirus, and Thrace are captives and followers of Pompey.


A maid of Cornelia.


The two Lentuli (unnamed) are Roman nobles, supporters of Pompey. They are with Cornelia when Pompey arrives in Lesbos. When the murderers attack him, they, with Demetrius, try to help him and are wounded. After the murder, they encourage Cornelia to be calm. These are presumably Gaius Lentulus Spinther and Lucius Cornelius Lentulus; the latter was in fact one of the two consuls, though Chapman seems to have two consuls in addition to him.


A Roman noble; a silent part. This is probably Caius Claudius Marcellus; he was one of the two consuls, though Chapman seems to have two consuls in addition to him. Or it might be his brother, Marcus Claudius Marcellus. As the character says nothing, it is impossible to tell.


A servant of Cato.


A tribune; supports Caesar in his confrontation with the Senate in Act I. His full name was Lucius Caecilius Metellus. Lucan describes his attempt to prevent Caesar from robbing the treasury in the Temple of Saturn: The Civil War III 114 ff.


A tribune; attacks his colleague Metellus in the scene in the Senate in Act I. The name seems to be a mistake for the tribune Marcius Philippus. Chapman perhaps confused him with Minucius Rufus, one of Pompey's commanders: Caesar, Civil Wars III.7.


The Nuntius, or messenger, appears in Act II scene ii to describe the progress of the war–at this point, Pompey is winning.


A devil who makes a pact with Fronto in a comic scene.


Servant of Cato, who brings him the sword with which he commits suicide.


Pompey is a great, seasoned general; he takes up arms against Caesar, his junior, in order to save the Republic. At first very successful, he declines the advice of Cato and refuses to make peace with the struggling Caesar. Later, panic hits his army, and he loses the crucial battle of Pharsalus. With his friend Demetrius, he flees in disguise to Lesbos, where he has an emotional reunion with his wife Cornelia; shortly afterwards, he is murdered by Achillas, Septimius, and Salvius, and his head is taken to Caesar. Chapman elides a number of places together here. Cornelia was sent originally to Lesbos for safety, but went later to Mitylene, where her husband joined her; they fled together to Egypt, and Pompey was killed on the point of landing there.


Son of Cato. His nomen is usually spelled "Porcius". He tries, vainly, to dissuade his father from committing suicide after the victory of Caesar.


A murderer and centurion, responsible with Achillas and Septimius for the murder of Pompey.


The Sentinel, a servant of Cornelia, announces the arrival at Lesbos of two men in disguise; they turn out to be Pompey and Demetrius.


A murderer whose full name is Lucius Septimius. Once a tribune of Pompey's, Septimus is responsible–with Achillas and Salvius–for the murder of Pompey.


Young son of Pompey, sent for safety to Lesbos with his mother, Cornelia, and his sister, Cyris. He sees his father wounded by the murderers.


The Shipmaster takes Caesar over the River Anio in his desperate (and successful) last bid for victory.


The Soothsayer predicts a reversal of the war in the favor of Caesar.


A disciple of Cato. Detained, after the final battle, by Caesar, he arrives at Utica too late to prevent his master's suicide. Afterwards, he flees rather than surrender to Caesar. In Plutarch, Life of Cato 65.4, he is called "Statyllius."


A maid of Cornelia.


A Roman noble, loyal to Pompey; he brings Caesar's early offer of capitulation to Pompey, who rejects it.