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ECCE! IV Book Reviews PDF Email


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BOOK REVIEWS

Roman Blood by Steven Saylor



You, a Latin or Greek student, know of Cicero, the great orator, but do you know Tiro?

Tiro was his famous secretary, friend and slave, who was born on the family estate more or less the same time as Cicero himself.

When Cicero was building his career in Rome as a young, inexperienced lawyer, Tiro was there to take notes, run errands, and record all the events for posterity. It is our loss, today, that the writings of Tiro have been lost.

All this and more is captured by Steven Saylor in one of his early novels: Roman Blood (1991).

The novels of Steven Saylor are best read in order, as his main protagonist is a detective, or as he calls himself, a "finder" in ancient Rome. Gordianus, the Finder, grows older through the series of novels, so it's more enjoyable to read an early novel in the series first.

Here we are. Let us walk in streets of Roma (ambulemus viis Romae) in the year 80 B.C.

Sulla is the dictator, while Cicero hopes to be a power in Roman politics, but is not yet even a Senator. Tiro is the lusty, attractive secretary-servant to Cicero. Tiro's entry into manhood is a sub-plot in this romp through the back alleys of Rome. Gordianus himself is somewhat odd, and will cope with the changes in the government (res publica) of Rome as best he can. These novels tell how he manages to stay under the radar and to avoid any clash with the truly brutal administration of Sulla et al.

If you have enjoyed non-fiction accounts of Roman and Greek history, but are not sure if you would enjoy the freedom of a novel, take my advice and try this one.

It's sure different from our Latin textbooks: there are brothels, lusty young lovers, an accused murderer slowly going mad, and Cicero talking ... and talking ... and talking.

There is nothing like reading about what Cicero was like as a young man to appreciate how far he rose in his career ... to be Council of the Roman Senate ... and how far he fell in the years after Julius Caesar ruled Rome.

Gordianus will be your guide to the underside of Roman life! Have fun!

Mippy




A.D. 62:Pompeii by Rebecca East




Have you ever thought what life is like being a slave in ancient Rome? Although this book is fiction, it gives a clear portrayal of life in the slave culture of A.D. 62. Miranda has just completed her doctorate and having no job prospects she has agreed to be part of an experiment of time travel. She is transported back through time to A.D. 62. by a group of Harvard researchers. She was chosen because of her fluency in Latin and her extensive knowledge of Pompeii. Unfortunately, something goes awry and she is stuck, never to return from whence she came.

After plummeting through darkness, Miranda lands in the Mediterranean sea where she becomes entangled in a fisherman
 
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