MESSALINA, THE ROMAN EMPRESS
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
An angel accompanies the ghosts of the three ladies when they appear to Saufellus.
Eight Bacchanalians dance in the wedding masque.
A "ghost character." Young son of Claudius and Messalina.
Calistus joins Narcissus and Pallas in lamenting Claudius's gullibility and persuading him to act against Messalina and Silius.
Calphurnia is a professional prostitute who loses to Messalina in the contest over who can couple with more men.
Calphurnianus colludes in Messalina's marriage to Silius and encourages Silius to seize the empire. Captured by Pallas, he is condemned to death by Claudius.
The foolish Emperor Claudius dotes on Messalina, even permitting her marriage with Silius, but does finally turn on her when warned by Pallas, Narcissus and Calistus that Silius plans to replace him as emperor.
Three courtesans appear in the wedding masque dressed as queens.
Evodius gives Silius his deathblow and also attempts to kill Messalina, though she preempts him by taking the sword and committing suicide.
Servant of Lepida.
Three Furies, representing Pride, Lust and Murder, appear to Messalina.
A "ghost character." The captain of Claudius's guard.
GHOSTS OF THREE LADIES
The three Roman ladies (termed 'dames'), who are killed by the Bawd and Saufellus, return as ghosts to gloat when Saufellus is swallowed by the earth.
Two guards clear the way for the Senate to attend the wedding celebrations.
Hem is a pander who is eventually swallowed by the earth during the attempt to abduct the vestals.
Three Roman ladies (termed 'dames') knock at Lepida's door seeking to avoid rape. The Bawd and Saufellus kill all three. Their ghosts subsequently return to gloat when Saufellus is swallowed by the earth.
Lepida is the virtuous mother of Messalina. Unable to save the three ladies who are killed by Veneria the Bawd, she imprisons Veneria and has her fed to the dogs; unable to convert Messalina, she resolves to kill her instead, but runs mad. She subsequently recovers her wits at the wedding celebrations and, overhearing the plan for the rape of the vestals, arranges their escape. She asks Vibidia, Matron of the Vestals, to intercede for Messalina and ask Claudius to visit her after her arrest. Finally she watches Messalina die.
Servant of Lepida.
[Annaus] Mela is the virtuous brother of Seneca. He befriends Montanus and persuades him to flee to Corsica to escape Messalina.
An actor to who catches Messalina's eye while playing Troilus. Initially he resists her but he succumbs after being racked.
[Valeria] Messalina is the libidinous third wife of the Emperor Claudius. When the play opens, she has already won a wager that she can couple with more men than the prostitute Calphurnia. In her libidinous frenzy, she drugs Silius and threatens him [anachronistically] with a pistol until he agrees to kill his wife, has Menester racked until he agrees to sleep with her, and seduces Montanus. She eventually marries Silius but is arrested by Claudius' troops. Evodius is sent to kill her, but she seizes the sword herself and commits suicide.
The noble Montanus disguises himself to test the virtue of Mela, but Saufellus recognizes him and alerts Messalina. Taken before her, he initially succumbs to her beauty but is quickly disgusted and is persuaded by Mela to flee to Corsica.
Narcissus is a freedman of Claudius who, together with Pallas and Calistus, finally persuades him to act against Messalina. Narcissus subsequently plans her death.
A "ghost character." Young daughter of Claudius and Messalina.
Pallas is a freedman of Claudius who, together with Narcissus and Calistus, finally persuades him to act against Messalina.
Proculus is a favorite of the Empress who helps lure Silius from his book. He is killed by Claudius' troops when they storm the wedding party.
Although nobly born, Saufellus acts as a pander for Messalina, procuring Menester for her. The earth swallows up him, Hem and Stitch when they try to abduct the vestals.
[Caius or Cajus] Silius starts the play as an upright man, fond of reading and devoted to his wife Syllana, but after being drugged by Messalina and led to her bed he succumbs to her beauty and to the position of power she offers him. He is even persuaded by her to kill his wife Syllana, but is unable to go through with it. He does however marry Messalina once Claudius seems to have given his consent to this. He is eventually killed by Evodius when Claudius' troops surprise the wedding party.
Two spirits sing a song of despair to Messalina.
Sulpitius, a follower of Messalina, warns her that Claudius' troops are coming. He is then taken prisoner and condemned to death by Claudius.
Stitch is a pander who is eventually swallowed by the earth during the attempt to abduct the vestals.
Syllana is the virtuous and loving wife of Silius. Messalina persuades Silius to kill her, but he is unable to carry it out. She subsequently dies of grief at the death of Silius.
A part being played by the actor Menester when he catches Messalina's eye.
[Vectius or Urctius] Valens is a favourite of the Empress who helps lure Silius from his book. He is killed by Claudius' troops when they storm the wedding party.
Veneria is a bawd. She helps kill the three ladies who have fled to Lepida for rescue, for which Lepida imprisons her and orders her to be fed to the dogs.
"Ghost characters." An unspecified number of vestal virgins are rescued by Lepida when Saufellus, Stitch, and Hem attempt to abduct and rape them.
Vibidia or Vibidea is the Matron of Vestals. Having been rescued by Lepida, she repays the favor by going as ambassador to ask Claudius to see Messalina after her arrest.
Virgilianus is a senator who abets Messalina in marrying Silius and urges him to seize the empire. Virgilianus is captured by Pallas and sentenced to death by Claudius.