Venalicius was born Philippos on the Greek island of Symi. His mother, Elena, was "the most beautiful woman on the island". This was a stark contrast to his father, a sponge-diver, who had tiny black eyes, a misshapen nose and crooked teeth. Venalicius had a strong appreciation of beauty from a very early age; his father therefore repulsed him and he ran away from the man whenever he came home from sea. He spent the majority of his childhood with his mother, listening to her sing and watching her weave.
When Venalicius was seven, his father became a scarce sight around the house and his mother became pregnant. To Venalicius' despair, his mother died in childbirth. He saw his father and the new baby brother, Alexandros, as the reasons for his mother's death. Several times he attempted to smother the baby, but was always stopped by his father and beaten.
As the two boys grew up, Venalicius realised that Alexandros had inherited their mother's beauty and charm, whereas he looked like his father.
At the end of The Dolphins of Laurentum Venalicius dies after diving for gold too many times in a sunken wreck. In his last minutes of life, he leaves Lupus his ship and begs them to set free the children he captured.
Venalicius is extremely ugly, much to his dismay. He has leathery skin and tiny, black eyes.
He is blind one eye, due to having dived too often when trying to get a pearl for Melissa.