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Old 03-01-2020, 02:36 PM   #1
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Rome - Republic and Empire • March 2020

Help select what we'll read and discuss next!


The topic is Rome - Republic and Empire.

This correlates to the dates DIX BC - CDLXXVI AD, so any books written in or about that period of Rome would fit. Also, as usual the topic is interpretable upon inspiration, so any of the words of the topic title or ideas they invoke may conjure up nominations not necessarily about ancient Rome but otherwise related to the topic- perhaps something else Roman, or related to a republic or empire. This topic area was suggested because of the Ides of March, so something to do with anything related to that could fit as well.


Detailed nominating and voting guidelines can be found here. Basically, nominations are open for about four days and each person may nominate up to three literary selections which will go automatically to the vote. Voting by post then opens for four days, and a voter may give each nomination either one or two votes but only has a limited number of votes to use which is equal to the number of nominations minus one. Any questions, feel free to ask.

We hope that you will read the selection with us and join in the discussion.

*

Nominations are now complete. Initial voting is complete. Run-off voting is complete. Final results-
  • The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
    Post . Goodreads . Preview . CCXCIV Pages . Votes I . Run-off – . MCMLIV . England & Malta

  • Roman Blood by Steven Saylor
    Post . Goodreads . Preview . CDIV Pages . Votes II . Run-off – . MCMXCI . U.S.

  • I, Claudius by Robert Graves
    Post . Goodreads . Preview . CDXXXII Pages . Votes V . Run-off III . MCMXXXIV . England

  • Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz
    Post . Goodreads . Preview . DLX Pages . Votes I . Run-off – . MDCCCXCIV . Poland

  • Spartacus by Howard Fast
    Post . Goodreads . Preview . CCCLXII Pages . Votes I . Run-off – . MCMLI . U.S.

  • Salammbô by Gustave Flaubert
    Post . Goodreads . Preview . CCLII Pages . Votes III . Run-off – . MDCCCLXII . France

  • Agrippa’s Daughter by Howard Fast
    Post . Goodreads . Preview . CCCLXXI Pages . Votes V . Run-off nulla . MCMLXIV . U.S.

  • Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
    Post . Goodreads . Preview . CCXXXIX Pages . Votes I . Run-off – . MDXCIX . England

  • Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
    Post . Goodreads . Preview . CCCLXXXIV Pages . Votes V . Run-off II . MMX . U.S.

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Old 03-04-2020, 01:36 AM   #2
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My first nomination is The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. It looks like a fun read and is young adult historical fiction and adventure, although the author wrote 'for children of all ages from nine to ninety'. This is set in Roman Britain and I did hesitate for all of about eight seconds over nominating a book both set in Britain and by an British author for a Roman month as being possibly too divergently on the nose for our tastes with bringing a topic about the Roman Empire towards Britain. But, our tastes are as they will be and I'll leave it to the vote to decide, and anyway this is set in the Roman Empire after all. Goodreads, Preview, 294 pages, 1954, England & Malta

Quote:
Set in Roman Britain this story is of a young Roman officer who sets out to discover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of the Ninth Legion, who marched into the mists of Northern Britain and never returned.

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Old 03-04-2020, 04:31 PM   #3
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About a day left for nominations.
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Old 03-04-2020, 04:39 PM   #4
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I've narrowed down to three for my last nominations, of which I think I know which two I'm going with. I'd chosen one to definitely nominate that didn't have anything to do with Rome but rather another empire, but then for my last nomination I eventually had two left, both set in ancient Rome, that I couldn't decide on. At that impasse I realised I could just leave out the one not set in Rome at all so I think that's what I'll do if I don't change my mind before I post them.
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Old 03-04-2020, 06:14 PM   #5
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I will post my nominations later tonight.
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Old 03-04-2020, 06:25 PM   #6
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Next I'll nominate Roman Blood by Steven Saylor. This is the first in an historical mystery series but each book definitely sounds standalone. It sounds very interesting and I enjoyed the preview. Goodreads, Preview, 404 pages, 1991, U.S.

Quote:
Elena asks that you come to the House of Swans at once... Compelled by this message, the wealthy, sybaritic Sextus Roscius goes not to his harlot, but to his doom—savagely murdered by unknown assassins. In the unseasonable heat of a spring morning in 80 B.C., Gordianus the Finder is summoned to the house of Cicero, a young advocate staking his reputation on this case. The charge is patricide; the motive, a son's greed. The punishment, rooted deep in Roman tradition, is horrific beyond imagining.

Gordianus's investigation takes him through the city's raucous, pungent streets and deep into urban Umbria, unraveling layers of deceit, twisted passions, and murderous desperation. From pompous, rouged nobles to wily slaves to citizens of seemingly simple virtue, the case becomes a political nightmare. As the defense proceeds toward a devastating confrontation in the Forum, one man's fate may be threaten the very leaders of Rome itself.
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Old 03-04-2020, 06:27 PM   #7
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I will post my nominations later tonight.
Looking forward to it!
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Old 03-04-2020, 10:39 PM   #8
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I've been short of time recently for searching (summer here :-)) and then every book I could find that looked interesting was very long. So I just fell back on 3 long oldie popular novel ones that have sat in my to be read list for ages and that probably most know of even if only through the movies or TV series.

I, Claudius - Robert Graves
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I,_Claudius
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18765.I_Claudius

Quo Vadis - Henryk Sienkiewicz
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quo_Vadis_(novel)
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/538845.Quo_Vadis

Spartacus - Howard Fast
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spartacus_(Fast_novel)
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Old 03-04-2020, 10:50 PM   #9
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My final nomination is Salammbô by Gustave Flaubert. This is set in Carthage. Rome conquered Carthage some time after this but this is on the periphery of the empire and during a time when Carthage was destitute due to the indemnities imposed by Rome as part of a peace treaty. It was a somewhat scandalous book because of descriptions of violence and sensuality. The only Flaubert I've read so far is Madame Bovary and I thought it'd be interesting to see what this one is like in comparison. Goodreads, Preview, 252 pages, 1862, France


Wikipedia:
Quote:
Contemporary readers, familiar with Flaubert's previous realistic work, Madame Bovary, were shocked and, in some instances, appalled by the indiscriminate violence and sensuality prevalent throughout the novel, which is why, notwithstanding the praise it received for its style and story, Salammbô remains controversial in literary circles to this day. Nevertheless, it was a massive best-seller, which sealed the author's reputation as one of the most prominent French writers of the 19th century, with even some of the Carthaginian costumes described influencing contemporary French fashion
Goodreads:
Quote:
The novel Salammbo (published in 1862) interweaves historical and fictional characters. The action takes place before and during the Mercenary Revolt, an uprising of mercenaries in the employ of Carthage in the 3rd century BC. --- An unfinished opera by Modest Mussorgsky, a silent film by Pierre Marodon and a play by Charles Ludlam are among the many adaptations of Flaubert's novel. --- In 1858, in order to gather material for Salammbo, Flaubert paid a visit to Carthage.

Flaubert insisted, in the face of scholarly criticism, that there was no detail in Salammbo for which he could not produce documentary authority.

Immediately after the protracted and crippling First Punic war with Rome, the Carthaginian army under Hamilcar was obliged to contend with a revolt by their unpaid mercenaries – an anarchic barbarian horde of mixed race – led by the Libyan Matho. It is a story of the most appalling savagery which Flaubert was anxious to render in spirit and detail. His invention of the exotic and chilling Salammbo, priestess in the temple of the Goddess Tanit, and her obsessive relationship with Matho, lends dramatic unity to a tale of epic grandeur in which Flaubert gave full rein to his love of the gorgeous, the voluptuous and the bizarre.
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Old 03-04-2020, 10:53 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by AnotherCat View Post
I've been short of time recently for searching (summer here :-)) and then every book I could find that looked interesting was very long. So I just fell back on 3 long oldie popular novel ones that have sat in my to be read list for ages and that probably most know of even if only through the movies or TV series.
Interesting nominations! I too found so many longer books that I considered but left off in the end because we've just been tackling the long Dr. Zhivago (although if anyone else wants to nominate any long ones I'm up for whatever), but it definitely seems like when people write about Rome they generally like to write a lot.
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Old 03-04-2020, 11:53 PM   #11
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Well, I had to pivot because I had planned to nominate 2 of the 3 books that AnotherCat did!

So I'm going to nominate another book by Howard Fast, Agrippa's Daughter, because I already own it.

Quote:
An epic novel of Berenice, Queen of Israel—life, love, and war in the shadow of the Roman Empire—from the New York Times–bestselling author of Spartacus.
Throughout her rule in the first century AD, Queen Berenice is idolized by some, and hated by others. Though her fiery red hair makes her instantly recognizable, it is her mysterious charm and steely will that make her unforgettable. The daughter of Israel’s King Agrippa I, Berenice is determined to free the kingdom of Israel from the shadow of the Roman Empire. But her plans are derailed after her husband, Shimeon, dies during a bloody civil war. When Berenice falls in love with Titus, son of the Roman Emperor, they devise an impossible plan to join the ruling lines of Rome and Israel.

A master of gripping historical fiction, Howard Fast brings the ancient world to vivid life in this enthralling, epic drama.
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Old 03-05-2020, 12:04 AM   #12
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Interesting nominations! I too found so many longer books that I considered but left off in the end because we've just been tackling the long Dr. Zhivago (although if anyone else wants to nominate any long ones I'm up for whatever), but it definitely seems like when people write about Rome they generally like to write a lot.
This is the problem that I am having along with geographical restrictions....
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Old 03-05-2020, 12:12 AM   #13
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How about a classic, Julius Caesar by Shakespeare.

From Amazon:
Quote:
Based on Plutarch's account of the lives of Brutus, Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony, Julius Caesar was the first of Shakespeare's Roman history plays. Presented for the first time in 1599, the play reveals the great dramatist's consummate ability to explore and express the most profound human emotions and instincts. So clearly and urgently does it impact its insights into history and human behavior, Julius Caesar is traditionally among the first of Shakespeare's plays to be studied at the secondary-school level.
In addition to its compelling insights into the human condition, Julius Caesar is also superb drama, as Brutus, Cassius, and the other conspirators hatch a plot to overthrow Caesar, dictator of Rome. After Caesar is assassinated, Mark Antony cleverly turns the crowd against the conspirators in one of the most famous speeches in literature. In the civil war that follows, the forces of Mark Antony and Octavius Caesar eventually win out over the armies of Cassius and Brutus. Humiliated and desperate, both conspirators choose to end their lives. These tragic events unfold in a riveting dramatic spectacle that also raises profound questions about power, government, ethics, and loyalty.
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Old 03-05-2020, 12:14 AM   #14
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Here's some of the others I was considering if it might help your search, or just for anyone interested in other books for this topic:

Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner (about the lead up to the Third Reich, which of course 'third reich' means third empire after the previous German one and, ahem, the Roman Empire)

A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening by Mário de Carvalho (set in the Roman Empire in what is now Portugal; I really wanted to nominate this but didn't see any ebooks)

Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault (about the young Alexander)

The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder (about Julius Caesar and in epistolary form, and I loved Thornton's Bridge of San Luis Rey)

The Ides of April by Lindsey Davis (a mystery set in ancient Rome)

Christ Stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi (set in the much more modern Italy, but still in the centre of where the Roman Empire had been and by an Italian descended from Romans, and referencing Christ who of course was famously tangled up in the Roman Empire)

The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora by Stephanie Thornton

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare (about a fierce, hotheaded young man bent on revenging his father’s death by forcing the Romans from his land of Israel)

Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem

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Old 03-05-2020, 12:25 AM   #15
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From sun surfer:
1)The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder (about Julius Caesar and in epistolary form, and I loved Thornton's Bridge of San Luis Rey)
2)Christ Stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi (set in the much more modern Italy, but still in the centre of where the Roman Empire had been and by an Italian descended from Romans, and referencing Christ who of course was famously tangled up in the Roman Empire)

I thought of these too, especially because I already own the Levi book, but they seem to have limited availability as an ebook geographically.
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