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Encyclopedia > List of characters in The Roman Mysteries
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The following is a list of characters in The Roman Mysteries, a series of historical novels for children by Caroline Lawrence. The Roman Mysteries books are a series of historical novels for children by Caroline Lawrence. ... Caroline Lawrence is an American author, best known for her series called The Roman Mysteries for children. ...

Main characters

Flavia Gemina

Flavia Gemina is the fictional protagonist of the Roman Mysteries series and she appears throughout the whole series. She lives in the Roman port of Ostia in the year 79AD with her widowed father Marcus Flavius Geminus, who is a wealthy sea captain. Her mother, Myrtilla, died giving birth to stillborn twin boys when Flavia was only three and she has very few memories of her mother.She cannot remember what her mother looks like.


Flavia is ten years old and is described as having light brown hair hair (which suits her as her name literally means "girl with fair hair") and grey eyes. She is slim but is not described as beautiful (Flavia thinks she has a big nose). In 'The Enemies of Jupiter', Jonathan, staring at a death mask of Myrtilla, claims that Flavia looks like her mother, but without the dark hair. In the new BBC TV series she is played by Francesca Isherwood.

Family and Friends

Flavia lives with her father Marcus,a widower and sea captain, and her pet dog Scuto. She has two house slaves, Alma and Caudex, and eventually adopts and frees Nubia from slavery. Her best friends are Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus and it is revealed that she has family in Rome from her mother's side. She and Jonathan are firm friends but bear a striking resemblance to Taran and Princess Eilonwy from Lloyd Alexander's 'Chronicles of Prydain' series as they argue frequently over what is right and what is not. Flavia is very temperamental and can be selfish, leading to Jonathan quarrelling 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 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 the father of Polla Pulchura, Publius Pollius Felix. In 'The Sirens of Surrentum' where she meets her betrothed, Tranquillus(aka Sueotonius/Gaius), 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 probably 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. (Source: Roman Mysteries website). It is unlikely that Flavia and Jonathan will become betrothed, partly because he is Jewish, and the fact that they have no 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 selfish she was and only thinking of herself.


Flavia is in a way rather like Harry Potter's Hermione Granger.She is bossy,stubborn and can be selfish. 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 behaviour, e.g. she insists that Polla Pulchra's mother is "barking mad" even though she is depresesed. She is a very good detective when she is not emotionally involved.

Jonathan ben Mordecai

In the television series Jonathan ben Mordecai is portrayed by Eli Machover.


Jonathan is described as having curly dark hair and olive skin. As the books progress, he appears to put on a lot of weight, despite being of reasonable build and strength.


Jonathan was born to doctor Mordecai ben Ezrah and his wife Susannah the Beautiful in Jerusalem in AD 68-69. When the Emperor Titus conquered the Jews and burnt the Holy Temple, he, alongside his father and sister, Miriam, moved to Italia, believing Susannah to be dead. He moved to Ostia in AD 79 at the age of ten where he met Flavia Gemina, the clever daughter of Marcus Geminus, Sea Captain and her slave Nubia. Jonathan also befriended mute beggar boy, Lupus, and the two became inseparable. Lupus moved in with Jonathan's family, during The Thieves of Ostia. His guard dog was one of the many killed by the elusive murderer, and so 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. Flavia Gemina is the fictional protagonist of the Roman Mysteries series and she appears throughout the whole series. ...

During The Assassins of Rome, he learns that his mother may be alive and journeys with his uncle, Simeon to Rome to find her. Jonathan is branded and forced to work as a slave in Nero's Golden House when he is believed to be an assassin. He befriends Rizpah, another slave who tells him that she knows where his mother is. He later returns home, having promised Sussanah not to tell his father that she is alive.

The second book in which he is the singular 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 killing Agathus in a deadly battle, Rome is indeed destroyed.

In The Gladiators of Capua, Jonathan, whom his friends and family believe to be dead (with the exception of Lupus), becomes a child Gladiator and changes his identity. He is however, brought home to Ostia where his dream comes true. His mother has returned.

Personality and Skills

Bearing resemblances to Harry Potter's Ronald Weasley, Jonathan is funny and comedic, and has a sadonic, 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 is a proficient doctor and suffers from asthma.


He met his neighbour Flavia Gemina when he saved her life from a group of wild dogs and the two became firm friends. Later, he befriended Flavia's African slave, Nubia and mute beggar boy, Lupus who completed the group of detectives. He began a romantic relationship with another of his friends, Polla Pulchra during The Sirens of Surrentum, despite kissing Flavia earlier in the same book. He loves his puppy, Tigris, deeply as well as his parents and late uncle, Simeon. Other friends include Rizpah and Clio. Flavia Gemina is the fictional protagonist of the Roman Mysteries series and she appears throughout the whole series. ... Polla Pulchra is a fictional character in Caroline Lawrences historical childrens series, The Roman Mysteries.She first appears in The Pirates of Pompeii and is the eldets daughter of the wealthy Roman patron Publius Pollius Felix. ...


Although generally thought of as a Jew, he and his family are in fact early Christians.

Nubia (Shepenwepet)

Nubia is portrayed in the tv series by Rebekah Brookes-Murrell.


Nubia is a once slave girl that was captured from her home and taken to Ostia. She was named Nubia, as all the other female Nubian slaves were called as well, by the slave dealer Venalicius, after her native country. Her real name is Shepenwepet, daughter of Nastasen but she frequently says: 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. Flavia Gemina is the fictional protagonist of the Roman Mysteries series and she appears throughout the whole series. ... Jonathan ben Mordecai is a fictional character in the popular series of childrens books, The Roman Mysteries, written by Caroline Lawrence. ...


Nubia is described as beautiful, with dark brown skin and golden brown eyes.

Personality and skills

Nubia is probably the wisest of the four and maybe the kindest, too. She has a talent for calming animals which help 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. Nubia also sees Jonathan and Lupus as her brothers and Flavia as a sister. Nubia is very close to Flavia, acting as an older sister when she is upset and defending her cause.

Nubia falls in love with her tutor, Aristo 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 herslf of love's passion. However, this doesn't work as Nubia points out to Flavia in The Fugitive of Corinth. When Nubia believes she, Flavia, Dion and Aristo are going to die in an airless tomb she almost tells him her undying love, however 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.


In the TV series, Lupus is played by Harry Stott.


Lupus is Greek, has dark brown hair and sea green eyes. He is mute because his tongue was cut out by the slave dealer Venalicius, who is also his uncle Philippos.


Lupus lived on the Greek island of Symi with his mother Melissa, and his fisherman father Alexandros. One day he came back home to find his father dead in a pool of blood and his uncle Philippos nearby. Lupus 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 Lupus lived rough as a beggar until one day, while he was being 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 says that he is a sponge diver 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 and also all the children he took. Lupus agrees, realizing that he is becoming a 'second' Venalicius in his cold hearted ways and forgives him. His uncle's last words were; "Help the children- the ones I took. Rose" (which bears a reference to a modern-day film).

Later in The Colossus of Rhodes Flavia realizes that what Venalicius was trying to say was 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 sancuary at Delphi. Lupus feels that Jonathan, Nubia and Flavia are his brother and sisters.

Polla Pulchra

Polla Pulchra first appears in The Pirates of Pompeii and is the eldest daughter of the wealthy Roman patron Publius Pollius Felix. Her real name is Polla Felicia. When we first meet her she is shown in a bad light as a pampered,snobbish "daddy's girl". In the TV series, Pulchra is played by Millie Binks.


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.

Family and Friends

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, and she has two younger sisters named Pollina and Pollinilla,yet they are minor characters and play small parts. 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 doesn't 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.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. 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,seeing 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.



When Porcius is first mentioned during The Colossus of Rhodes, he is apparently exceptionally fat. By the end of the novel, 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.


Born in AD 69 to a family of bakers, little is known about Porcius until The Colossus of Rhodes in which he has a minor role. He is the first of the children of Ostia to be captured by the slave-traders led by Magnus. Porcius is rescued by his friends and neighbours, Flavia Gemina, Jonathan ben Mordecai, Nubia and Lupus. His second and last appearance to date is a guest in Nubia's birthday party. Flavia Gemina is the fictional protagonist of the Roman Mysteries series and she appears throughout the whole series. ... Jonathan ben Mordecai is a fictional character in the popular series of childrens books, The Roman Mysteries, written by Caroline Lawrence. ...

Personality and skills

Porcius is an ecstatic fan of chariot racing and knows almost as much as there is to know about to the sport.


Porcius is friendly with Flavia, Jonathan, Lupus and Nubia although the latter appears to be slightly intimidated by him.

Other recurring characters



The Jewish agent of Berenice, Agathus was the main antagonist in The Enemies of Jupiter. In an attempt to burn Rome to the ground, he is killed by Jonathan ben Mordecai Jonathan ben Mordecai is a fictional character in the popular series of childrens books, The Roman Mysteries, written by Caroline Lawrence. ...


Cheery slave of the Geminus household, Alma is an excellent cook, despite being decidedly unintelligent. She is plump and jolly, although rather fussy over Flavia Flavia Gemina is the fictional protagonist of the Roman Mysteries series and she appears throughout the whole series. ...

Senator Aulus Cornix

Flavia's uncle, the Senator reportedly did not get on very well with the Geminus family. He was ill with the fever in The Enemies of Jupiter, but was healed by Mordecai. His two babies died of the fever.

Aulus Cornix Jr

Flavia's snobbish cousin, Aulus Jr is decidedly arrogant, although generally friendly to Flavia and her friends.


Marcus Artorius Bato

An intelligent magistrate in Ostia, Bato assists the children on 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 accident), 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 almosts says so too, if not for Aristo's intervention


The doorslave of the Cornix household, Bulbus is similar to Caudex, although possibly even more unintelligent.



So called due to his dimwitted unintelligence, Flavia's big door slave was a gladiator from Britannia. He saved Jonathan's life in The Gladiators of Capua.

Lady Cynthia

Flavia's aunt on the mother's side. In The Gladiators from Capua Lupus notices that she is suffering from a disease called bloodlust, and that is why Senator Cornix decides to leave Rome early.


Diana Poplicola (Her real name is Cartilia)

Sister of Paula (Cartilia) 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' as she decides never to get married and she is a keen hunter.

Titus Flavius Domitianus

Domitian is the Emperor Titus' 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"...



Gaius Valerius Flaccus

Friend of Flavia Gemina. Flavia first meets Flaccus when she is sailing to Rhodes on her father's ship. At first she does not like him, saying that he is a "pompus lawyer", 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 and Flavia starts to fall for him.


Gaius Flavius Geminus

Gaius is Flavia's uncle, twin brother of Marcus Geminus. He used to live on a farm in Stabia where Flavia and her friends stayed in The Secrets of Vesivius. While there, Jonathan's sister Miriam, known for her beauty, fell in love with Gaius, ignoring the other men who loved her. After the eruption of Vesivius, Gaius and his new wife moved into a small farm near their new patron, Pliny the Younger. Gayus Plinius Colonoscopy Caecilius Secundus (63 - ca. ...



Sister of Aulus Jnr and Flavia's cousin.


One of the Jewish handmaidens given to Queen Berenice. (Susannah the Beautiful was also a handmaiden). She was thrown out of The Golden House for flirting with the Emperor Titus.



Josephus ben Matthias

A Jew who works in Titus' palace and appears in The Assassins of Rome and The Enemies of Jupiter. he foiled Simeon's and Jonathan's disguise by telling Titus 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.

The real Josephus was present in Ths 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 the utmost 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.

Lusca (The old woman of Ostia)

Lusca is a wise woman who lives near The Hydra Fountain in Ostia. She was born in 27 BC, making her 107 years old by the time Flavia visits her. (79 AD)



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 has family in Rome, and either once lived in Pompei or visited it as there is where she met her future husband Marcus.




Pistor the baker

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.

Polla Argentaria

Beautiful wife of Publius Pollius Felix. Suffers from depression and tries to poison herself when she finds out that Publius Pollus Felix has fathered many ilegitimate slave children.


Sister of Polla Pulchra


Other sister of Polla Pulchra

Gaius Plinius Phrixus

Former slave of Pliny the Elder. He was later set free by Gaius Plinius Secundinus and often helps the friends if they are staying near Laurentum. Pliny the Elder: an imaginative 19th Century portrait. ...




Rizpah was a slave in Nero's Golden House who befriended Jonathan when he was enslaved as well. An expert at sneaking and spying, she is a valuable ally to Jonathan and leads him to his mother. She returns later in The Enemies of Jupiter when she shows Flavia, Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus the Ark of Convenent. Simeon was to be her godfather, and she grieved as much as Jonathan when he died of the fever. Her catchphrase is notably Here I was born, and here I shall die.


Simeon ben Ezrah

Susannah's brother, Simeon bravely went in search for her when he heard of her possible survival in Jerusalem. Alongside Jonathan he journeyed to Rome but was mistaken for an assassin and imprisoned. He later died of the fever. He was supposed to become Rizpah's step-father but died before.


Scopas is Flavia's and Nubia's friend in Rome who races chariots. He has autism, a condition not diagnosed in Roman times, so the friends think he is strange. However, Nubia likes him and one of the horses he races, a dark stallion called Pegasus. At the end of the Charioteer of Delphi, 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.



Titia is Porcius' 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.


Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus is Flavia's former betrothed, a cheery boy who likes to laugh, who seems snobbish in the first chapters of his appearance. His and Flavia's betrothal is canceled by his father just when they have started to get on with each other and 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.


Taharqo is Nubia's older brother, who was sold when her family was captured and became a gladiator. Nubia learns that he has been sold to the school of Capua in The Dolphins of Laurentum and she eventually finds him in The Gladiators of Capua. She offers him the choice of being free; having won a lottery ball, and is devastated when he refuses.



An evil, cruel and impossibly ugly slave trader who plies his work in the port of Ostia. Flavia fears him dreadfully and he often makes threats to her that one day he will enlsave her and sell her abroad where no one will ever see her again. Though later in the series it is revealled that he is really the uncle of Lupus and was the one who murdered his own brother, Alexandros, in a mad fit of rage and cut out Lupus's tongue. He shares his life story with Jonathan's father Mordecai when they share a cell. He reveals that his name is really Philippos and 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 loathes 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.







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