Captain Phoebus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Captain Phoebus
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame character
Created by Victor Hugo
Gender Male
Nationality French

Captain Phoebus de Châteaupers is a fictional character and one of the main antagonists in Victor Hugo's 1831 novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. He is the Captain of the King's Archers. His name comes from Phoebus, the Greek god of the sun (also called Apollo).

In the novel[edit]

In the original novel, Phoebus is an antagonist. Despite being of noble birth and very handsome, he is also vain, untrustworthy, and a womanizer. He saves Esmeralda from Quasimodo and she falls in love with him. Phoebus makes a convincing show of returning her affections, but merely wants a night of passion. Esmeralda arranges to meet Phoebus and tells him of her love for him, and he convinces her that he feels the same way about her. He is in fact engaged to another woman, the spiteful socialite Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier. Not only that, he has agreed to let Claude Frollo spy on his meeting with Esmeralda. This decision proves his undoing, since as the couple prepare to have sex, the jealous Frollo attacks Phoebus by stabbing him in the back. Frollo makes a quick get-away and Phoebus is presumed dead by homicide. Esmeralda, being the only one present, is presumed to be the killer. Phoebus, however, is not dead and soon recovers from his injury. But this does not stop Esmeralda from being tried and sentenced to death for his murder. Phoebus could have proved her innocence, but he remained silent. In the end of the novel, he marries Fleur-de-Lys, and watches Esmeralda's execution with apparently little or no remorse. Whilst being one of the few characters to survive the novel, Hugo hints that Phoebus's marriage will not be happy.

Disney version[edit]

In the animated Disney version, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Phoebus returns to Paris to be Captain of the Guard under Judge Claude Frollo because his predecessor was a "bit of a disappointment" to Frollo. Unlike His original counterpart from the novel, Phoebus' feelings for Esmeralda are genuine. He first meets Esmeralda when he sees her dancing in the streets for money. He also watches her dance at the Festival of Fools. Both times, he shows a marked interest in her with an approving grin. But both events entail for Phoebus a greater vested interest in Esmeralda's well-being, and not only in her dancing and her beauty, in that he assists her escape from city authorities both times, unbidden by her. Specifically, after witnessing two soldiers harassing Esmeralda over her (honestly acquired) earnings when he first arrives in the city, Phoebus blocks their way with his horse, Achilles, when they pursue her, and stall them long enough for her to get away. The second time, he follows her into the cathedral after Frollo issues an order to arrest her for her defiant acts against him at the Feast of Fools, and when Frollo and a handful of soldiers arrive to arrest Esmeralda, Phoebus takes the initiative and claims sanctuary for her. Notably, his first real encounter with Esmeralda in the cathedral involved an impromptu sword vs. candle-holder fight when she believes he intends to arrest her-he flirts the entire time, if awkwardly, and they eventually reach a place of discourse before being interrupted by Frollo.


Actor Version
Herbert Heyes 1917 adaptation
Arthur Kingsley 1922 adaptation
Norman Kerry 1923 adaptation
Alan Marshal 1939 adaptation
Jean Danet 1956 adaptation
Alexander Davion (voice) 1966 adaptation
Richard Morant 1977 adaptation
Robert Powell 1982 adaptation
Kevin Kline (voice) 1996 Disney adaptation and its direct-to-video sequel
Benedick Blythe 1997 adaptation
Patrick Fiori 1997-2002, musical
Vincent Elbaz 1999 parody