List of The Roman Mysteries characters
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Main characters (in appearance order)
Flavia is one of four fictional protagonists in the Roman Mysteries series. She lives with her father, whom she calls pater (father in Latin) Marcus. When Flavia was three, her mother died when she was giving birth to unnamed twin boys, who also died soon after their birth.
Flavia is a described as having grey eyes and light brown hair (her name does actually mean "girl with fair hair"). She is not described as being very beautiful. However, the others love her for who she is. Throughout the series, she dresses in several shades of blue and grey. At the last book, Pulchra admits to being jealous of Flavia's appearance.
- Family and Friends
Flavia lives with her father Marcus Flavius Geminus, a widowed sea captain, and her pet dog, Scuto. Her beloved mother, Myrtilla, died giving birth to stillborn twin boys when Flavia was only three. Flavia has very few memories of her mother and cannot remember what she looked like. Myrtilla was from Rome, and Flavia has family there on her mother's side. Her aunt, Cynthia, married a Senator, Cornix, and Flavia has several cousins from Cynthia's side of the family.
She has an affectionate relationship with her father's two house slaves, Alma and Caudex, and eventually adopts and frees Nubia from slavery.
Her best friends are Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus. She and Jonathan are good friends but bicker frequently over what is right and what is not. Flavia is very temperamental and can be selfish, leading to Jonathan arguing with her, though they always make up in the end and Flavia might even confess that she was wrong. Yet Flavia is also very kind-hearted and has formed something of a maternal affection for young Nubia, whom she bought at the slave market to save her from a life of cruelty. Lupus is also important to Flavia as he is the same age her twin brothers would be had they survived their difficult birth. She thinks of him as a sort of surrogate brother. Flavia used to have a crush on Pulchra's father, Publius Pollius Felix. In The Sirens of Surrentum she meets her betrothed, Tranquillus, but events occur which end in her not being betrothed anymore. She also discovers that Felix has 'been with' almost all the pretty slave girls, and has fathered many illegitimate slave children. At the end of the book, when leaving Surrentum, the friends see a graffiti that reads: EVERYONE LOVES FELIX. Flavia says quietly, "Not everyone," so she has gotten over her crush on Felix.
Earlier in the book, it is hinted that Flaccus, a young rich man, may be falling for her. It has also been hinted that they will become betrothed. He proposed to her at the beginning of the book The Beggar of Volubilis but Flavia refuses.
It is unlikely that Flavia and Jonathan will betroth, partly because he is Jewish, and the fact that they lack romantic attraction, as it clearly states in the first chapter of The Sirens of Surrentum.
In The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina, Flavia is horrified to learn that her father is thinking of remarrying to a widow and convinces herself that the woman is evil and must be gotten rid of. This is an example of how protective Flavia is of her mother's memory. However it is only when Flavia succeeds in her task to remove the widow from her father's life that she realises that how egocentric she was and that the woman was actually nice but died of fever.
Affected by Miriam's death, Flavia makes a vow to the goddess Diana to renounce men, but by the end of The Beggar of Volubilis she agrees to take it back.
Flaccus and Flavia finally marry at the end of the last book, with Nubia, Aristo, Jonathan and Lupus as guests of honour.
Flavia is stubborn, and can also be selfish and spoilt. She can sometimes be bossy, yet she can also be brave, clever and kind-hearted. She freed Nubia from her life as a slave yet she still orders her about. Flavia can also be jealous, as she is jealous of Jonathan's sister Miriam as she is very beautiful. Sometimes she does not understand other people's behavior, e.g. she insists that Polla Pulchra's mother is "barking mad" even though she is depressed. She is a very good detective when she is not emotionally involved.
Jonathan Ben Mordecai
Jonathan is one of four fictional protagonists in the Roman Mysteries series, the second eldest of the four.
Jonathan is described as having curly dark hair and olive skin. He has a normal build, but gains weight and muscle as the books progress. Throughout the series, his theme colors are cream and brown and black when Jonathan is a slave to Titus.
Jonathan was born to doctor Mordecai ben Ezra and his wife Susannah in Jerusalem on 15 September, AD 68. He was a toddler when the Emperor Titus conquered the Jews and burnt the Holy Temple, after which he went to Rome with his father and sister, Miriam.
He moved to Ostia in AD 79 at the age of ten where he met Flavia Gemina, the rich, clever daughter of Marcus Geminus, and her brave, young slave-girl Nubia. Jonathan also befriended a mute beggar boy, Lupus, and the two became inseparable. Lupus moved in with Jonathan's family, during The Thieves of Ostia.
When his guard dog Bobas was killed he joined the other three on the quest to discover the culprit. He was successful and was rewarded by a puppy, whom he named Tigris.
During The Assassins of Rome, he learns that his mother may be alive and journeys with his uncle Simeon to Rome to find her. Mistaken for an assassin, Jonathan is branded as a slave and forced to work in Nero's Golden House. He befriends Rizpah, another slave, who takes him to his mother. He is distressed to learn that his mother had loved another man and stayed in Jerusalem to be with him. Titus frees him and grants his family Roman citizenship. Jonathan later returns home, having promised Susannah not to tell his father that she is alive.
In the second book in which he is the primary character, The Enemies of Jupiter, Jonathan returns to Rome when his father is summoned there to work as a doctor for those with the fever. His plan to get his mother and father back together ultimately fails and he is banished from Rome by Titus. After getting mugged he is looked after by fellow Jew, Agathus, who asks for his assistance to burn Rome to the ground. In a bid to stall him, Jonathan agrees. Once more, his plans fail and, despite Agathus's death in a deadly battle, the fire causes widespread destruction. He changes his identity and becomes a child gladiator.
In The Gladiators of Capua, Jonathan is believed to be dead by his family and friends (with the exception of Lupus), although in fact he is training as a gladiator in Rome. He is later brought home to Ostia where his dream comes true. His mother has returned.
- Personality and Skills
Jonathan is funny and comedic, with a sardonic, wise-cracking sense of humour. He is generally sensitive and pessimistic (he refers to it as being a realist), as well as being emotional, especially towards his mother. He often has prophetic dreams. He suffers from asthma, although this improves over time. After The Enemies of Jupiter he grows depressed and blames himself for the deaths in the fire. Despite returning to his friends and family he retains a much darker personality than in the earlier books, making fewer jokes and having a stronger pessimistic view. He continues to do his exercises from his life as a child gladiator, making him very fit. He starts to play the barbiton, a bass lyre, in The Assassins of Rome and becomes quite proficient.
He met his neighbour Flavia Gemina when he saved her life from a group of wild dogs and the two became good friends. Later, he befriended Flavia's young African slave, Nubia, whom he later became very close to, followed by the mute beggar boy, Lupus who completes the group of detectives. He begins a romantic relationship with Polla Pulchra in The Sirens of Surrentum. However, he officially says he is not in love in The Prophet from Epheus. He loves his puppy, Tigris, deeply as well as his parents and his uncle Simeon. Other friends include Rizpah and Clio.
Although Jewish by birth and culture, he and his family belong to the new Christian sect. Many other Jews do not approve of them because of this.
Nubia is one of four fictional protagonists in the Roman Mysteries series, the eldest of the four. In The Thieves of Ostia, it is revealed that she knows little Greek.
Shepenwepet (Nubia's original name), daughter of Nastasen of the Leopard Clan, was born on 18 August 68 AD. She grew up in the beautiful desert country of Nubia, in Africa, with her parents, brothers, baby sister and cousin. At the age of ten Shepenwepet was forced to witness her family's deaths, when her tribe was attacked by slave traders. She herself was captured from her home and taken to Ostia as a slave girl, while her older brother, Taharqo - the only other surviving member of her family - was taken to be a gladiator (She is later re-united with her brother in "The Gladiators of Capua"). In Ostia she was renamed Nubia, as were all the female Nubian slaves, by the slave dealer Venalicius, after her native country. She does not use her real name, frequently saying: Nubia can be my new name for my new life. After she was bought by Flavia Gemina, sea captain's daughter, who later set her free, Nubia made friends with Jonathan ben Mordecai, a Jewish boy who lives next door to Flavia and the Greek mute, Lupus.
Nubia is described as beautiful with dark brown skin, short black hair and golden-brown eyes. Her striking looks capture the unwanted attention of several men, most notably the Emperor's brother, Domitian. Her signature color is yellow.
- Personality and skills
Nubia is the wisest and kindest of the four. She has great instincts and is good at sensing whether of not people are good, bad, lying or truthful. She has a talent for calming animals, which helps the friends out when they are in trouble. Nubia is also a talented musician, making and performing all of her own pieces to people such as Titus and Pliny the elder. Some of her most frequently played tunes are 'Slave Song' and 'Song of the Lost Kid'.
- Family, friends and relationships
All of Nubia's family were killed by the slave traders, except for Taharqo, her oldest brother. In "The Scribes from Alexandria" it is revealed she was once betrothed to her cousin Kashta, who was living on the Nubian border. Sometimes she feels that she is all alone in the world, and takes comfort in her three friends. Nubia sees Jonathan and Lupus as her brothers and Flavia as a sister. Nubia is very close to Flavia, and is quick to comfort her if she is in distress. Jonathan and Nubia are firm friends and there is no account of them quarrelling. Nubia has strong maternal affections for Lupus, partly because she is naturally gentle and caring herself, and partly because Lupus, like herself, has no family and is all alone in the world.
Nubia falls in love with her tutor Aristo although she knows he loves Miriam, but despite all her attempts to forget about him, she cannot. In The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina she performs a dance called the Little Tarantula to free herself of love's passion. However, this does not work as Nubia points out to Flavia in The Fugitive from Corinth. When Nubia believes she, Flavia, Dion and Aristo are going to die in an airless tomb she almost tells him her undying love, but before she can, Jonathan and Lupus rescue them. Nubia realizes that if she ever told Aristo about how she felt, it would ruin their relationship as friends so she decides not to tell him. However, Aristo confesses love for her in the last book and the two marry.
Lupus is one of four fictional protagonists in the Roman Mysteries series, the youngest of the four.
Lupus is Greek, has dark brown hair and sea-green eyes. Lupus' signature color is green. He is mute because his tongue was cut out by the slave dealer Venalicius, who actually was his uncle and his alias Phillipos.
Lykos, the son of Melissa and Alexandros, a fisherman, was born on 15 February AD 71 on the Greek island of Symi. One day he came home to find his father dead in a pool of blood and his uncle Philippos nearby. Lykos shouts out that he will tell someone but his uncle cuts out his tongue and takes him to Ostia. (In the TV series, the trauma of the event and his uncle's threats cause Lupus' muteness.) For years he lived rough as a beggar known as Lupus, the Roman version of his name which means "wolf". Then one day, after he is chased by a pack of wild dogs, three children befriend him and welcome him into their homes. Lupus does not tell them he is Greek until The Dolphins of Laurentum, when he reveals that he is a sponge diver, like his father who he used to go sponge diving with, and Aristo can converse to him in Greek. At the end of the book, Philippos (also known as Venalicius) is dying and he asks Lupus to forgive him. Lupus agrees, realizing that he is becoming a 'second' Venalicius in his cold-hearted ways, and forgives him. His uncle's last words are in Greek. They are: "Help the children - the ones I took. Rose". Lupus inherits his ship, the Vespa; becoming a shipowner gives Lupus status and makes him potentially wealthy.
Later in The Colossus of Rhodes Flavia realizes that what Venalicius was trying to say was To Rhodes, sending them on a mission to stop a criminal mastermind.
- Family and friends
Lupus does not have any family left except for his mother, Melissa, who made a vow to Apollo and is now a priestess in the sanctuary at Delphi. Lupus feels that Jonathan, Nubia and Flavia are his brother and sisters, and often turns to Nubia as a sort of mother-figure. He is also good friends with Clio, and asks Felix to look for her after the volcanic eruption.
Agathus was an elderly, Jewish door slave to Titus's palace. During The Assassins of Rome, he befriended Jonathan ben Mordecai and his uncle, Simeon ben Jonah. When Jonathan was captured and enslaved, Agathus was kind towards him and helped him deal with the pain of the branding. It is apparent that he was either an ex-freedom fighter or an ex-assassin, as he takes Simeon's sica as some form of password. He despises the Romans, and it is implied that he was there at the Sack of Jerusalem.
He appeared once more in The Enemies of Jupiter, where it became clear that he was the agent of potential assassin, Berenice, who was determined to kill Susannah bat Jonah, sister to Simeon and mother to Jonathan. Agathus led Jonathan into believing that his mission was to kill Titus, although Jonathan eventually guessed his true plan: to burn down Rome. They engaged in a fatal battle, in which Agathus, despite being armed with a knife, was knocked into the flames by the terrified boy and perished.
Agathus has appeared in the following novels:
Alma is the loyal house-slave of the Geminus household. Plump and jolly, she is a firm believer in tradition and is very protective of Flavia, often taking the role of her mother-figure.
She is a stereotypical house-wife figure: a knowledgeable cook, cleaner and knows of everything going on in Ostia, due to her gossiping ways, a valuable asset to Flavia and her friends. She is rarely seen without her male counterpart, Caudex, with whom she frequently gossips with, although it is apparent that she believes him to be rather slow. She was hit by the fever in December AD 79.
Alma made several appearances in these following novels (which normally start off in Ostia):
- The Thieves of Ostia
- The Dolphins of Laurentum
- The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina
- The Enemies of Jupiter
- The Colossus of Rhodes
- The Charioteer of Delphi
- The Slave-girl from Jerusalem
- Trimalchio's Feast and other mini-mysteries
Flaccus' dog. Mentioned in the last book: The Man from Pomegranate Street. Flaccus names his dog, "Argos" as Flavia's dog is named "Scuto".
Aristo, son of Diogenes, is a young Greek from Corinth who has been Flavia's tutor for several years, and comes to act as tutor for the other children. He appears in most of the books. He is both intelligent and handsome. He teaches them philosophy, Greek language and music. He plays the lyre and often accompanies Nubia when she plays the flute. He is very helpful to the detectives, being flexible about what constitutes education. In " The Dolphins of Laurentum " Aristo and Pliny the Younger have a falling out in Miriam's sight.
He is hopelessly in love with Miriam and after her death in childbirth he is distraught and is noted to play very sad music. He apparently fails to notice that Nubia loves him.
In The Fugitive from Corinth his family background is revealed. He has a brother, Dion, who has always been envious of his seemingly perfect brother and tries to murder him but injuring Marcus instead. In the final book, "The Man from Pomegranate Street", he confesses his love for Nubia and marries her.
Ascletario is an astrologer in the service of Titus. In The Enemies of Jupiter he acts as the children's guide to Rome, describing and explaining the history and customs of the city. He talks incessantly and has some odd mannerisms which the Jonathan mocks behind his back. He then appears in The man from Pomegranate Street.
Atticus is an elderly Greek sailor serving aboard The Delphina, under Marcus Geminus.
Atticus made his first appearance in The Colossus of Rhodes, where it was discovered that he is unable to read or write. He serves mainly as Ship's Cook, and on many occasions his food is described as being sublime. He is one of the few crewmembers who was not suspected by Flavia and her friends, as the culprit would have to be literate. Atticus also assists the captain, Marcus Artorius Bato, and Gaius Valerius Flaccus in subduing the traitor, Zosimus.
During The Fugitive from Corinth, Atticus takes a more major role, serving as the detectives' guide. He has a good head for the geography of his native country and it is revealed that he has a girlfriend named Flora, after whom he named his dagger.
His skills as a cook are mentioned at a higher extent as well as his talent at hunting, causing Jonathan and he to become firm friends. When not pulled back with a sling, Atticus' grey hair is scary, causing a tired Jonathan to believe that he is Medusa. Atticus has appeared in numerous times as a background character.
Atticus has appeared in the following novels in the series:
Aulus Caesilius Cornix, a Roman senator, is the husband of Cynthia, sister to Marcus Geminus' deceased wife, Myrtilla, and thus Flavia's uncle. He had a number of children: twelve-year-old Aulus Jr, eight-year-old Hyacinth, six-year-old twins, Quintus and Sextus, five-year-old Rhoda and two unnamed babies.
He and his family had been feuding with the Gemini family for many years when Flavia came to him in need of help for rescuing Jonathan. Although he and the family were away on holiday, his loyal secretary, Sisyphus, assisted the children.
Upon his return, he was healed from the fever by Mordecai, but lost two of his younger children. He announced the feud over between the two respective families, and has received the children as guests on numerous occasions.
Despite certain bouts of pompousness, sexism and arrogance, he really does care about his family. He is a staunch supporter of the Greens chariot racing team, and despises the Blues, in a fashion similar to his son, Aulus Jr.
Aulus Cornix has appeared in the following novels in the series:
Aulus Cornix Junior is Flavia's cousin. Pompous and arrogant and very much like his father, twelve-year-old Aulus Jr. is the oldest child of the Cornix family. He is a nemesis of Flavia's and can be a bully towards his siblings as well as the detectives, especially Nubia. Snobbish but reasonably intelligent, he is a firm supporter of the Greens.
Aulus Cornix Junior has appeared in the following novels:
Avitus Was a suspect in the murder of Jonathon's dog, Bobas. He was a sailor. He hates dogs because his daughter was killed by one. Committed suicide because of grief. He jumped off a light house. Avitus was in:
Bar Mnason is the son of animal trainer, Mnason, and, in a way similar to Nubia, has a gift with animals, notably the lion Monobaz. He befriends Nubia during The Gladiators from Capua, and assists her, alongside his father, in saving Flavia's life.
Marcus Artorius Bato is an intelligent magistrate in Ostia who assists the children in their mysteries. Although appearing as a foil for Flavia in The Thieves of Ostia and in The Assassins of Rome (in the latter he arrests Mordecai by mistake), he is a helpful ally to the children in The Colossus of Rhodes. However, in The Slave-girl from Jerusalem he betrays Flavia and her friends while they are pleading a case and Flavia feels he is a traitor. She almost says so to his face, if not for Aristo's intervention.
Berenice is a former Jewish queen, the mistress of Titus. She appears in The Enemies of Jupiter and is mentioned in The Assassins of Rome.
The doorslave of the Cornix household, Bulbus is similar to Caudex, although possibly even more unintelligent. In The Assassins of Rome he is said to have "the brain of an onion, a very small onion" by Sisyphus, slave and secretary to Senator Aulus Cornix.
Cartilia Poplicola, also known as Paula, is an apparent widow whom Flavia's much-loved father, Marcus, develops a romantic interest in, much to the horror of Flavia, who does all she can to remove the woman from her and her father's life. Everyone disagrees with Flavia about Cartilia, yet she pays no heed and ensures that Marcus cannot marry Cartilia by producing Cartilia's husband, who is alive and well and who divorced Cartilia and another of his wives as she was incapable of giving him children. Flavia thinks that her father will be relieved to be rid of her, but he is grief-stricken and begins to resent his daughter. When they reunite, Marcus is ready to marry Cartilia but sadly she dies of a fever that is infesting Ostia.
Cartilia appears in:
Caudex is the door-slave of the Geminus household. Given his name due to his apparent unintelligence (Caudex means blockhead), Caudex is a firm ally of the friends and has saved their lives on many occasions.
In The Gladiators of Capua, arguably Caudex's largest role, it is revealed that he was born in Britannia and sold as a slave during the Roman conquest of Britain. He later trained as a Gladiator in Capua, but could not bring himself to kill. In the same book, he saved Jonathan's life, by surprisingly intelligently infiltrating the arena in which the boy was to be executed. Caudex regards the Geminus family and friends as his familia. His best friend is obviously his female counterpart, Alma, with whom he frequently gossips. He was hit by the fever in December AD 79.
Caudex has appeared in the following novels in the series:
- The Thieves of Ostia
- The Assassins of Rome
- The Dolphins of Laurentum
- The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina
- The Enemies of Jupiter
- The Gladiators from Capua
- The Charioteer of Delphi
- Trimalchio's Feast and other mini-mysteries
One of the adopted daughter of Rectina who appears in The Secrets of Vesuvius. Named after Clio, the Muse of History. She is usually seen wearing a bright orange tunic and develops a romantic liking toward Lupus. She is a talkative but adventurous girl and befriends Flavia and the group, despite Flavia's hostility to her at first. Clio is almost killed by the eruption of the volcano after she attempts to rescue her mother and sisters who are trapped in their villa. They all survive, as is revealed in The Assassins of Rome when she visits Lupus, who was concerned enough to ask Felix to find her.
Cordius, the richest man in Ostia, is Marcus's patron. He is a very conservative Roman and disapproves of independent women. He is often referred to, but rarely seen. His wife and children were massacred in Germania.
Cynthia Cornix was the sister of Myrtilla Gemina, Flavia's mother, who died in childbirth in the early AD 70s. She married senator Aulus Cornix sometime before AD 68 and gave birth to seven children over the next twelve years. Two of them died in the Great Plague of AD 80.
In "The Gladiators from Capua", it becomes apparent that she has the 'bloodlust', which is why Senator Cornix decides to leave Rome early.
Cynthia Cornix has appeared in the following novels of the series:
Cartilia Poplicola, known as Diana, the sister of Paula and friend of Flavia. She is in love with Aristo and hates Miriam, whom she mistakenly calls 'Melania'. Despite their differences, Diana attends Miriam's funeral. She calls herself 'Diana' after the goddess, as she decides never to get married and she is a keen hunter. In The Beggar of Volubilis she persuades Flavia to join her in taking a vow to the goddess Diana to renounce men. However, in The Man from Pomegranate Street it is revealed that she has married Flavia's father while helping prepare Flavia for her own marriage.
Dion is Aristo's younger brother. He appears in the 'The Fugitive from Corinth'. Dion wanted to kill Aristo but accidentally stabs Flavia's father. Dion thinks that he killed Aristo, also thinking that Aristo's ghost is chasing him. At the end of the book Dion falls in love with Megara.
Titus Flavius Domitianus is the Emperor Titus's younger brother. Not much is given of him personally except for his appearance. He is described as good looking, medium height, with curly brown hair and brown eyes. He is quite arrogant; "I'm an excellent archer" and he hates his brother Titus; "She [Nubia] had seen the look of pure hatred in his eyes when he looked at Titus"...
Publius Pollus Felix a.k.a. the Patron is an extremely wealthy highborn Roman with Greek heritage. He was first encountered in The Pirates of Pompeii, where we met his sickly wife Polla, and their pampered daughter Pulchra. He is kind and generous to the four friends, seeming to favour Lupus most of all. He makes them welcome at his villa and gives them expensive gifts. Flavia eventually believes she is falling in love with him and therefore refuses to accept her betrothal to Tranquillus. His spoiled daughter Pulchra then invites the friends back to their home, the Villa Limona, after they saved her from being sold into slavery following the eruption of Vesuvius. In The Assassins of Rome, after the incident at Nero's golden house, He and Pulchra come and eat at Jonathan's sucah (The festival of Tabernacles). Flavia still thinks she loves him, but sees him in a different light as an unfaithful womaniser, who has fathered many illegitimate children by the many beautiful slave girls he owns, and also with many of the beautiful widows he entertains. When his wife Polla tries to poison herself in despair, he sees the error of his ways, but many doubt he can remain true to his word. At the end of 'The Sirens of Surrentum', he asks Flavia to join him in his study to thank her in private. However, at one point, he puts his hand on her knee and slowly bends his head towards her, supposedly trying to kiss her. Flavia runs off before he can.
Felix appears in
Ferox is the guard-dog at Gaius's house.
Gaius Valerius Flaccus (also known as Floppy) is a friend of Flavia Gemina. Flavia first meets Flaccus in The Colossus of Rhodes when she is sailing to Rhodes on her father's ship. At first she does not like him, saying that he is a "pompous lawyer", and nicknaming him "Floppy". He is also arrogant and rude to her but by the end of the book she is sad to see him leave, as she has seen his true character as a noble, kind, just man. He is also incredibly handsome.
In The Sirens of Surrentum Flavia meets him again but he leaves early with a mission to help Flavia track down a criminal mastermind. Nubia hints that Flaccus may be falling for her. He appears again in The Slave-Girl from Jerusalem, defending Hephzibah in court,and Flavia starts to fall for him. He proposes to her at the beginning of The Beggar of Volubilis, only to be turned down as Flavia has taken a vow of chastity at the temple of Diana. He leaves her with a betrothal ring, in case she changes her mind, and the feathered end of an arrow, as a symbol that she has pierced his heart. At the end of The Beggar of Volubilis, Flavia is tempted to change her mind regarding the proposal of Flaccus. At the end of The Man from Pomegranate Street, Flaccus is killed in a shipwreck - or at least, that is what Flavia tells everyone. However, it is revealed that he is very much alive and only pretended to die. He and Flavia marry at the end of 'The Man from Pomegranate Street', his 'new' name being Jason.
Gaius Flavius Geminus is Flavia's uncle, twin brother of Marcus Geminus. Flavia and her friends stay at his farm in Stabia in The Secrets of Vesuvius. While there, Jonathan's sister Miriam, known for her beauty, falls in love with Gaius, and they marry in The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina. Gaius and his new wife move into a new farm near their new patron, Pliny the Younger. After losing his wife in childbirth, Gaius is believed to have committed suicide by drowning, but Flavia finds him in The Beggar of Volubilis. On the voyage home they are shipwrecked and he is still missing.
Gaius appears in
- The Secrets of Vesuvius
- The Pirates of Pompeii
- The Dolphins of Laurentum
- The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina
- The Slave-girl from Jerusalem
- The Beggar of Volubilis
- The Scribes from Alexandria
Hephzibah bat David is The Slave-girl from Jerusalem. She is a childhood friend of Miriam and Miriam enlists Flavia and the others to help her find the man who witnessed her manumission, which is being disputed by Lucius Nonius Celer. She is later accused of triple murder and in the quest to proclaim her innocence, the four friends learn she was present during the fall of Jerusalem and also in the siege of Masada, where she was one of the seven survivors. In her former master's will she receives a legacy which makes her very rich.
Miriam confides in her about her vision of an angel telling her she will die giving birth and asks Hephzibah to look after her babies. In The Beggar of Volubilis she is said to be doing so, having moved into Jonathan's house after Gaius disappears.
One of the Jewish handmaidens given to Queen Berenice, along with Susannah the Beautiful, Jonathan's mother. She was thrown out of the Golden House for flirting with the Emperor Titus. She appears in The Assassins of Rome.
Hyacinth Cornix is the second child of Aulus and Cynthia, and the eldest of the girls. She is the sister of Aulus Jnr and Flavia's cousin. She is temperamental, quite tomboyish and commonly bullied and picked on by her older brother, Aulus Jr. She is very fond of her elder cousin, Flavia.
Hyacinth Cornix appears in the following novels in the series:
Jonathan's Gladiator name in The Gladiators from Capua.
Titus Flavius Josephus, originally Yoseph ben Matthias, is a former Jewish commander who is now a Roman freedman loyal to Titus. He appears in The Assassins of Rome and The Enemies of Jupiter. He foiled Simeon's and Jonathan's disguise by telling Domitian that Simeon is a Sicarii. In The Enemies of Jupiter Josephus tries to aid Flavia in solving a mystery, but catches the fever and falls unconscious. In fact, Flavia is not sure how much of what he told them was just delirious ranting. He is mentioned in The Slave-girl from Jerusalem as the former owner of Hephzibah and her mother, questioning them about their experiences for his book about the Jewish War.
The historical Josephus was present in the siege of Jerusalem and, after Jerusalem fell, came to Rome with Titus.
Leda is Pulchra's slave girl. In The Pirates of Pompeii Pulchra treats her with great cruelty, such as locking her in a wooden chest when she "misbehaves". At the end of The Pirates of Pompeii Pulchra 'opens her eyes' and she treats Leda better. In Sirens of Surrentum she loves her mistress's father. Leda mentions she is from Surrentum in "The Pirates from Pompeii".
Lysander is a Greek friend of Aristo's.
An enigmatic hunter, Lysander often works alongside Aristo and Cartilla 'Diana' Poplicola, whom he secretly loves, despite Diana herself actually loving Aristo. However, in later books it is clear that he has moved on. He has been mentioned many times by Aristo.
Lysander has appeared in the following books:
Marcus Flavius Geminus is Flavia's father. He is a Roman citizen of the equestrian class. He is a sea-captain, captaining first his own ship the Myrtilla, later Lupus's ship Delphina. He is absent-minded and generally easy-going. Flavia is his only child. His wife Myrtilla died giving birth to stillborn twins when Flavia was three. He has an identical twin brother, Gaius.
Marcus appears in practically all the books in the series, including
- The Thieves of Ostia
- The Dolphins of Laurentum
- The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina
- The Enemies of Jupiter
- The Gladiators from Capua
- The Colossus of Rhodes
- The Fugitive from Corinth
- The Sirens of Surrentum
- The Charioteer of Delphi
- The Slave-girl from Jerusalem
- The Beggar of Volubilis
- The Prophet from Ephesus
- The Man from Pomegranate Street
Megara appears in The Fugitive from Corinth, dressed like a beggar, and pretending to be a boy called Nikos. In fact, she is a young, shy and pretty girl who fell in love with Dion, Aristo's brother, even if he did not notice her. She is trying to help him. She does not like Aristo because he is more bright than Dion, and Dion is always abandoned, even if he is very bright too. At the end of the book, everything is cleared up, and Dion finally falls in love with Megara.
Miriam bat Mordecai is Jonathan's older sister. She acts as assistant to her doctor father, and later is especially active in caring for pregnant women.
Miriam is extraordinarily beautiful and has many admirers. She is described as pale with long, curly black hair and violet eyes. In The Secrets of Vesuvius, when she is 14, she falls in love with Flavia's uncle Gaius, and they are married in The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina. In "The Dolphins of Laurentum ", Miriam is caught kissing Pliny.In The Slave-girl from Jerusalem she dies giving birth to twin boys, deliberately refusing to be saved at the cost of their lives after seeing a vision from an angel telling her that her sons will do great things.
Mnason is an intelligent animal trainer, who befriends the children in The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina after his star lion, Monobaz, gets loose and is recaptured by Nubia. Her lionskin cloak is a reward from him. He has been known to breed lions, ostriches, giraffes and elephants.
He next appears in The Gladiators from Capua, in which he is in charge of supplying and training the beasts for the amphitheatre shows. Alongside his fourteen-year-old son, Bar, he assists Nubia and her friends in the finding of Jonathan. Monobaz is one of the star attractions in the show.
Monobaz is a tame and elderly lion with hardly any teeth, owned by animal-trainer, Mnason (see above) and his son, Bar Mnason.
During the Autumn of AD 79, Monobaz escapes into the woods of Ostia, where he is recaptured by Nubia. The skin of his father, who was presumably killed years earlier, is given to Nubia as a cloak, a trophy and a reward.
Monobaz becomes the main attraction in the Games in The Gladiators from Capua, when he fought against a vicious rabbit in the Amphitheatre. He is, however, used for comic relief, and the rabbit repeatedly jumps in and out of his mouth.
Mordecai ben Ezra, the father of Jonathan and Miriam, is a doctor. Jewish by birth, he is Christian by religion. He is a compassionate and peaceful man. During the Great Revolt he left Jerusalem with his children, believing his wife Susannah to be dead. Her return in The Enemies of Jupiter has not brought him much happiness, as she does not love him and behaves strangely, and the death of his daughter crushes him, as is seen in "Death by Vespasian".
Myrtilla is the name of Flavia's deceased mother and the wife of Marcus Geminus. Not much is known about her, other than she died giving birth to stillborn twin boys prior to the books. Flavia was three when she lost her mother and cannot remember what she looked like. The only given description of Myrtilla is that she had dark hair. She either once lived in Pompeii or visited it as there is where she met her future husband Marcus. Her sister Cynthia is married to Aulus Cornix and lives in Rome.
The Myrtilla is also the name of the ship Marcus Flavius Geminus (her husband) owned, but it got shipwrecked and so Lupus (in The Dolphins of Laurentum) lent his new ship (previously Venalicius's Vespa but renamed Delphina) to him.
Magnus is a rich and powerful dwarf who smuggles free-born children on slave ships to Asia, where he sells the beautiful ones and forces the rest to do weaving on looms in unhealthy conditions. He is said to be a giant man because he rides around on his bodyguard's shoulders. At the end of the series, he repents and lets the remaining children go free.
Nathan Nathan is a boat owner and smuggler who travels up and down the Nile. He is the cousin of Seth ben Aaron. He appears in The Scribes from Alexandria.
Nipur is Nubia's dog, the brother of Tigris.
A house slave in Villa Limona who is 15 years old and loves Felix. She grows pregnant in The Sirens of Surrentum.
Gaius Plinius Phrixus is a former slave of Pliny the Elder. He was later set free by Gaius Plinius Secundinus and often helps the four friends if they are staying near Laurentum.
Pliny the Elder is an admiral and famous writer. Flavia meets him in The Secrets of Vesuvius and impresses him with her knowledge of his writings. He later dies as a result of the eruption of Vesuvius.
Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Younger, Pliny's nephew, is a wealthy young lawyer who becomes a friend of Flavia and the others. He first appears in The Secrets of Vesuvius. He helps Gaius when his farm is destroyed, becoming his patron. In The Slave-girl from Jerusalem Flavia asks him for his legal help, which he is glad to give until unnerved by hearing that the great Quintilian will be appearing for the prosecution.
Pistor the baker runs the famous bakery in Ostia and is father to Porcius. he appears in a Roman Mysteries short story called The Code of Romulus when Flavia tries to solve the mystery of who is stealing his famous poppy seed rolls. He and his family also make an appearance at Miriam's funeral.
Born in AD 69 to a family of bakers, Porcius is the first of the children of Ostia to be captured by the slave-traders led by Magnus. Porcius is rescued by the four friends in The Colossus of Rhodes. He also appeared as a guest in Nubia's birthday party.
Porcius is an ecstatic fan of chariot racing and knows almost as much as there is to know about the sport. He even races his pet mice in a miniature arena.
When Porcius is first mentioned in The Code of Romulus, he is apparently rather fat. By the end of The Colossus of Rhodes, however, he has grown thin and scrawny after being starved by the slave traders. His girth appears to have returned in The Charioteer of Delphi.
Polla Argentaria is the beautiful wife of Publius Pollius Felix. She suffers from depression and tries to poison herself when she finds out that Felix has fathered many illegitimate slave children.
Polla Felicia Pulchra first appears in The Pirates of Pompeii and is the eldest daughter of the wealthy Roman patron Publius Pollius Felix. When we first meet her she is shown in a bad light as a pampered, snobbish "daddy's girl". Pulchra is of similar age with Flavia being the elder of two months, Jonathan and Nubia, and is described as slim with beautiful golden hair (which she tosses arrogantly when she wants to brag) and wide blue eyes. She is also very pretty, hence her nickname, which means "beautiful" in Latin. According to "The Roman Mysteries Treasury" she was born on the 31 July AD 68, making her slightly older than Nubia.
Pulchra is the daughter of Publius Pollius Felix and his beautiful wife, Polla, who is suffering from post-natal depression when we first meet her. She has two younger sisters named Pollina and Pollinilla. She also has her own personal slave girl named Leda and she treats her with utmost cruelty; beating her frequently and locking her in a wooden chest when she "misbehaves". She is shown as a bit of a snob and looking down on Nubia, since Nubia is still Flavia's slave during this point in the book, and does not even bother to directly talk to her. Despite her stuck-up beliefs, she begins to fall in love with Jonathan from the moment they meet and even gives him a priceless ruby ring from her jewellery box even though they have only known each other ten minutes. Pulchra devotes herself to Jonathan and ignores Flavia, deliberately mispronouncing her name as "Fulvia" and mistaking Lupus for Jonathan's slave. She also starts to sort of influence Flavia and then Flavia starts to treat Nubia with a little less respect, which Jonathan points out to her. Flavia and Lupus look on Pulchra as a "spoilt little harpy", but do not think her truly wicked until Pulchra whips Nubia and snaps her precious flute in half, which causes her to run away. Flavia and Pulchra fight violently in the valley overlooking Pulchra's villa and are kidnapped by slave dealers. The two girls make up and Flavia tells Pulchra how much Nubia means to her. Pulchra is then shown in a better light as a lonely girl with no friends as she tells Flavia how lucky she is to have friends. She also has a poor relationship with her family, as her father spends no time with her and her mother is ill. She has no interest in her two sisters, and treats them almost as badly as she treats Leda.
At first Pulchra is displayed as spoiled, cruel and selfish, and also a bit of a snob. She certainly has no sense of humanitarianism as she tells Jonathan that Nubia cannot own a puppy as she is a slave: "Slaves can't own property, they are property." Though later on she is shown as lonely and miserable. The four detectives are the only friends she ever had.
Quintus and Sextus
Quintus and Sextus Cornix are the six-year-old twin sons of senator Aulus Cornix and the Lady Cynthia. They are extremely boisterous and enjoy gladiatorial combat and chariot races. They have trouble pronouncing almost all words and see Lupus as their role model. They are commonly bullied by their older brother, Aulus Jr.
Quintus and Sextus appear in the following novels in the series:
Rectina first appears in The Secrets of Vesuvius. She is the wife of Tascius, the wealthy neighbour of Gaius Flavius Geminus. She is a handsome middle-aged woman and the adoptive mother of nine little girls who have been named after the nine Muses. She turns out to be the biological mother of the blacksmith Vulcan and recognises him at first glance during the festival of Vulcan. It is revealed her husband actually stole the infant Vulcan and left him on the riverbank to die, believing that Rectina had been having an affair with Pliny. He believes that the deformed foot Vulcan has is positive proof that the child was never his. When Rectina confronts him about Vulcan being their long-lost son, Tascius flies into a rage and blindly accuses her of being an adultress. Rectina flees heartbroken with their nine daughters to their villa upon the slopes of the volcano.
She reappears with Clio at the end of The Assassins of Rome, and Felix mentions that she and Tascius have adopted two more children, so they have evidently reconciled.
Rhoda Cornix is the five-year=old daughter of senator Aulus Cornix and Lady Cynthia and since the death of her little sisters, is the baby of the family once more. She is very fond of dogs and loves her older cousin, Flavia as well as Nubia. Rhoda is picked on by her older brother, Aulus Jr., in a way similar to Hyacinth, Quintus and Sextus. Flavia is her role-model.
Rhoda Cornix has appeared in the following novels in the series:
Rizpah, an eight-year old slave in Nero's Golden House, befriends Jonathan when he is enslaved there. An expert at sneaking and spying, she is a valuable ally to Jonathan and leads him to his mother. Her white hair, pink eyes and sensitivity to light suggest she has albinism. She was born in the Golden House, and her catchphrase is notably Here I was born, and here I shall die. Rizpah speaks Aramaic.
She returns later in The Enemies of Jupiter when she shows Flavia, Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus the Ark of Covenant. Simeon was to marry her mother Rachel, and she grieves as much as Jonathan when he dies of the fever.
Scopas appears in The Charioteer of Delphi. Scopas is Flavia's and Nubia's friend in Rome who races chariots. Nubia likes him and one of the horses he races, a dark stallion called Pegasus. At the end of the novel, Scopas wins his very first race in Rome, a thing that is almost unheard of. The twins, Quintus and Sextus mistakenly call him Scorpus, causing everyone else in the hippodrome to call him that. Scopas says that: "Scorpus can be my new name for my new life", mimicking a phrase that Nubia uses.
Scuto is Flavia's dog. He was beaten before he joined their household, but is now happy and confident.
Seth ben Aaron is a young Jewish scribe at the Library of Alexandria. He escorts Flavia and her friends on a journey up the Nile to find Nubia. He appears in The Scribes from Alexandria.
Sextus was one of the sailors on Marcus's old ship, the Myrtilla, when it sunk. However, he survived and found refuge in Rhodes. He was contacted by the slave-trader Magnus and was offered money if he could stop Flavia, Marcus and the rest of the Delphina's (the name of Marcus's new ship) crew from stopping Magnus. Sextus agreed and then tied up Flavia, Johnathan and Nubia on the Delphina. He planned to use it to sell them and the other kidnapped children around the Roman empire. But he is caught and arrested by the vigiles.
Sextus first appears in The Thieves of Ostia, but his main appearance is in The Colossus of Rhodes.
Simeon ben Jonah is Jonathan's uncle, Susannah's brother. He appears in The Assassins of Rome. A former Sicari now a slave in Corinth, he has been hired by Berenice to assassinate her rival Susannah the Beautiful, who he guesses is his sister. Determined to protect her from the two other assassins, he journeys to Rome with Jonathan. After some misadventures, he is appointed steward of the Golden House by Titus.
He falls in love with Rachel, Rizpah's mother, but before they can marry dies of the fever (The Enemies of Jupiter).
Aulus Caesilius Sisyphus is a Greek freedman and scribe to Aulus Caesilius Cornix and friend of Flavia Gemina. He is interested in the mysteries Flavia and her friends solve and tries to help out in them. He is rather vain and fastidious.
Sisyphus first appears in The Assassins of rome.
Susannah bat Jonah, known as Susannah the Beautiful, is Jonathan's mother. She remained behind in Jerusalem when Mordecai and the children left, leading them to believe she had been killed. In fact she stayed to be with her first love, Jonathan the Zealot, and because her father, a Jewish priest, disapproved of her husband's conversion to Christianity and his "cowardice" in refusing to fight the Romans. Her parents and Jonathan died in the siege and she was enslaved, becoming a handmaiden to Berenice in the Golden House. After Berenice's departure, she befriends Titus, who shows interest in her faith and her opinions. After being found by Jonathan in The Assassins of Rome, she tells him she has thought of him every day since they parted, but she cannot come back with him as Titus needs her.
In The Enemies of Jupiter she returns to live with her family. However, she has a separate room from Mordecai. She appears to be restless and spends a lot of time wandering around Ostia.
Taharqo is Nubia's eldest brother. He is a gladiator and the only other surviving member of Nubia's family. He is re-united with his sister in The Gladiators of Capua and almost set free but refuses, saying 'Free? When I can be with pretty girls here?'. He only appears in one book.
Tigris is Jonathan's dog, the brother of Nipur (Nubia's dog)
Titia is Porcius' older sister. She is about fifteen and is cross-eyed - a flaw which means she will probably never get a husband. Porcius tells Flavia that she is in love with Aristo. In the end, she instead marries Silvanus, who helped them in the colossus of Rhodes because Porcius was kidnapped while in love with Titia.
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus is briefly Flavia's betrothed in The Sirens of Surrentum. He is a cheery boy who likes to laugh, though he seems snobbish at first. The betrothal is canceled by his father just when he and Flavia have started to get on with each other and it seems the marriage could have worked. He is quite a cheeky boy, as is shown when he tries to persuade Lupus and Jonathan to take a boat out and spy on naked women (Flavia, Nubia, Pulchra and the other female house guests in The Sirens of Surrentum) as it is "suspicious". Lupus agrees quickly, but Jonathan refuses, saying, "You just want to spy on naked women". The plan fails as their boat gets caught on the rocks. He also appears in The Man from Pomegrate street. He tells Flavia that they should be together again and when he kisses her, she kisses him back.
Ursus is a giant man and a mute like Lupus. He is the bodyguard of Magnus who rides on his shoulders which makes him look even taller but he is knocked out by lupus in the end and mysteriously vanishes along with his master
An evil, cruel and impossibly horrible slave trader who plies his work in the port of Ostia. Flavia fears him dreadfully and he often threatens her that one day he will enslave her and sell her abroad where no one will ever see her again.
Later in the series it is revealed that he is the uncle of Lupus who, after murdering his own brother, Alexandros, in a mad fit of jealous rage, cut out Lupus's tongue to stop him telling the tale. He shares his life story with Jonathan's father Mordecai when they share a cell. He reveals that his name is really Philippos and he has been badly treated by everyone all through his life due to his ugliness and the only one who truly loved him was his mother, who died giving birth to Alexandros when Philippos was seven, hence why he loathed him so. Then his father sold him to slave traders saying he needed the money. Venalicius vowed revenge. He returned to his family home where he saw his childhood love and only friend, Melissa, now a beautiful young woman with a husband and son. Her husband was Alexandros. Philippos went mad and killed his brother, made Lupus mute and abducted him to Ostia. He later feels remorse and guilt over his cruelty and dies after battling a giant octopus. He leaves all his worldly goods to Lupus and dies in Miriam's arms; in his delirious state he believes she is his beloved mother come back to care for him.
NB 'Venalicius' is Latin for slave-dealer.
Vibia is the mother of Cartilia and Diana. She is well-read, and has tried without success to interest her daughters in the classics. She is naturally grey-haired, but wears an elegant wig.
A handsome sixteen-year-old blacksmith and Christian who travels through Pompeii with his donkey. His name is in fact Pulbius, but due to his trade and his deformed foot he is nicknamed Vulcan after the lame god, which he detests but puts up with anyway. He, like so many others, becomes entranced by Miriam's beauty and makes her a silver bracelet as a token of his affections. He turns out to be the long-lost son of Rectina and her husband, who left him to die on the banks of a nearby river when he believed that Rectina had been having an affair with Pliny. However a slave girl found him and took him to her master, who allowed one of his freed slaves to raise him as his own. Vulcan is a solemn, subdued boy who rarely smiles but is very kind-hearted and understands morals a lot better than Flavia or her friends do. When he asks Flavia what her ideal treasure is, she replies material goods. He is disgusted.
A name for Lupus that is used by Alma. Lupus only lets Alma call him Wolfie.
Xanthus was a slave to Gaius Flavius Geminus. He was the farm manager and debuted in The Secrets of Vesuvius. Xanthus, however, later dies.
Zetes is Flaccus's ex-slave boy. He is described as a 14/15-year-old boy with tanned skin, golden hair and slanted dark eyes. He only appears in The Colossus of Rhodes. However, Zosimus, who had been sending Magnus (a man who enslaves freeborn children) information, tells Flaccus that Zetes was one of the children he and Magnus had enslaved "eight or nine years ago", and that Zetes is actually highborn. Flaccus later sets Zetes free.
- Roman Mysteries website: http://www.romanmysteries.com