The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
If the Romans – that is, the nineteenth-century Romans, not the toga-wearing ones – had tabloids, Luigi Vampa would definitely make it onto their covers. Think of the headlines: LOCAL SHEPHERD BOY MAKES GOOD, BECOMES LEADER OF BANDITS. LUIGI VAMPA: KING OF BANDITS. Unlike most tabloid headlines, these would be accurate. Vampa is the best in the business, a real class act. He effortlessly kidnaps Albert de Morcerf – and Danglars, for that matter – and still finds the time to read books by Plutarch and Caesar.
His association with the Count, which began when he was still a shepherd, is certainly good for his business, and allows Dumas to make some key points about the benefits of using what you might call "passive influence" instead of direct, violent action. (Look under "Peppino" for a longer discussion of the issue.) Looking at Vampa, though, and his association with Monte Cristo, you come away with a sense of the Count's power. Vampa is a famous and fearsome bandit, but he still answers to the Count; conversely, in dealing with Vampa, we see that the Count has no trouble associating with the darker elements of society, from smugglers to bandits and beyond. Talk about an equal opportunity employer.