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Old 01-01-2012, 10:02 PM   #1
taosaur
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Historical Fiction about Greek/Roman philosophers?

Just a passing notion, but does anyone know of any historical fiction set in ancient Greece or Rome, ideally involving philosophers, but really anything with a non-military focus. Time travel is acceptable (perhaps encouraged ).
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Old 01-01-2012, 10:25 PM   #2
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If graphic novels are okay, William Messner-Loebs & Sam Keith's Epicurus the Sage is brilliant and hilarious.

It's got the aforementioned Epicurus, and also Aristotle and Alexander the Great, and sends up all the philosophical schools and the classic Greek legends as well. The scenes where the Sophists "explain" their method of argument and where Epicurus scares the mathematicians by yelling irrational numbers to disrupt their platonic purity or whatever it was are worth the price of admission, IMHO.

Barbara Hambly's ancient Roman historical detective novel Search the Seven Hills/The Quirinal Hill Affair has as its amateur sleuth a philosophy student, and there's brief but good discussion of Stoicism and other philosophies in the course of the search for truth (and whodunnit). Disclaimer, this is one of my personal favourite novels from one of my personal favourite authors, but I think it's very well done nonetheless and cheapest at Kobo when using the discount coupons.

Margaret Doody's done an entire series with Aristotle as amateur sleuth. I haven't read these but one day intend to.

If you think you might be into historical detective series, Ruth Downie's got a good one set in Roman Britain with a medical doctor attached to one of the legions. But then you said non-military (though Ruso the medicus spends rather little time with the actual military and rather more wandering around Britain and Gaul and crimesolving).

If you want a time-travel piece, Harry Turtledove and Judith Tarr teamed up to do Household Gods, with a modern woman doing the Quantum Leap-style mindswap with an ancient Roman tavernkeeper and examines the ensuing cultural differences and such. Not much philosophy in that one, as I recall, but an interesting read.
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Old 01-01-2012, 10:45 PM   #3
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Thanks, I have read Epicurus the Sage. I'm not a big fan of detective/mystery, but I kind of expected most recommendations would be along those lines. Something about the medicus books sounds possibly appealing, though, and I did like The Name of the Rose.
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Old 01-01-2012, 10:51 PM   #4
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Here, try the Historical Novels page. They've got listings for thousands of the things, split up into time eras. And they separate out the mystery stuff so if you want genfic or sf or whatever, it's easier to find.

PS. If you collect the publisher promo freebies, you may already have Ruth Downie's Medicus, as it's been offered free twice and I think it was a B&N Free Fridays feature.

Last edited by ATDrake; 01-01-2012 at 10:55 PM. Reason: Read for free! Maybe.
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Old 01-01-2012, 11:03 PM   #5
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That looks like a great site! I'd throw you some karma, but apparently I already did
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Old 01-02-2012, 04:11 AM   #6
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I'm not sure if this qualifies, but one of the central characters in Pompeii, by Robert Harris, is Pliny the Elder. Was he a philospher? He was certainly Roman.

Anyway, it's a good read.

Mike
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Old 01-02-2012, 04:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike L View Post
I'm not sure if this qualifies, but one of the central characters in Pompeii, by Robert Harris, is Pliny the Elder. Was he a philospher? He was certainly Roman.

Anyway, it's a good read.

Mike
Civil engineers, scholars and historians will definitely work--looks very interesting
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:18 AM   #8
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You may wish to try the "Roma Sub Rosa" series by Steven Saylor. These books are set at the end of the Roman Republic, and feature a detective called "Gordianus the Finder" who acts as a "leg-man" for the Roman statesman and philosopher, Cicero. The books are truly excellent fictionalisations of many of Cicero's most famous legal cases. Very well worth a read.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:29 AM   #9
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There is also the 'Falco' series by Lindey Davis. I very much doubt that Falco would qualify as a philosopher, but I enjoy them.
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Old 01-02-2012, 10:05 AM   #10
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You might want to try works by Mary Renault. I haven't read it myself, but it looks like "The Last of the Wine" features Socrates as a character. I did enjoy "The King Must Die" which features characters from Greek mythology but is written as historical fiction rather than mythology. Sadly, I don't think her books are available as ebooks.

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Old 01-02-2012, 01:14 PM   #11
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There is a Harry Turtledove novella "The Daimon" - Socrates abets Alcibiades on the Sicilian expedition. It is available in a alternative history collection "Worlds That Weren't"
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