A Plea

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A Plea

Postby Aulus Flavius on Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:09 pm

Salve amici,

I find myself in something of a dilema. I have recently read Gore Vidal's 'Julian', re-read Marguirette Yourcenar's 'The Memoirs of Hadrian' and I find myself desperate for good fictional Roman literature again.

But I need a book that will move me, in a way that only those classics can. Words that can take a person away, and have you standing at Hadrian's deathbed, or ridding with Julian into Persia. I need a book that will leave me breathless at the last page. One that will lift me up, and take me far away. I ask for a level of literature beyond the norm. The pages of a Scarrow or McCollough will only sustain me for so long.

I beg, friends, Romans, countrymen, help me find a book worth reading. Help me find a great, classic work of art!

Vale,

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Classicalia

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:52 pm

Salve, Aule Flavii -

I suppose it would be useless to suggest the classics themselves - Aeneid, Thebaid, Odyssey, et cetera? If only we had Ennius's Annales.

Mary Renault - have you read all her works? She's a Graecophile, but then that's related. I found her one on Dio of Syracuse (title forgotten) to be moving.

Not much help here! Sorry! Vale bene.
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Postby Aulus Flavius on Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:31 am

Alfred Duggan's "Family Favourites"

It was the only one of a long list of books I could find at a large inner city book store. Thankfully, thus far it has not disappointed.

I recommend it.

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Postby L. Livia Plauta on Mon Mar 31, 2008 11:53 pm

Salve Aule Flavi,
I'd suggest anything by Valerio Massimo Manfredi (author of "The Last Legion"), if his books have been translated into English.
Also, I'm reading a book set during the third punic war, by Juan Carlos Martin Leroy, which seems very well researched. The original title in Spanish is "El anillo de hierro".
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Postby Marcus Tullius Ioannes on Sun Apr 06, 2008 5:41 pm

You might want to try Robert Harris' novels, Pompeii, the subject of which is evident, and Imperium, about the early career of Cicero. But for me, Vidal has no rival.
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Postby Marcus Tullius Ioannes on Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:46 pm

I suppose I should also mention Robert Graves' novels regarding the emperor Claudius, in case you have not read them--I, Claudius and Claudius the God. PBS (or BBC?) did a good series based on them years ago, which I assume is available on DVD.
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Good reads

Postby Aldus Marius on Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:54 am

Salve, mi Flavi!

> But I need a book that will move me, in a way that only those classics can.


Hmm, that's a tough one; one reason I haven't chimed in before now. I know which books have transported me, have strengthened my Romanitas, have made me soar and yearn and weep...but maybe that's just Marius being a mush-pot. (I am, you know.) And the ones that come most strongly to mind for me are a looonng way from being considered "classics". My absolute favorite is a garden-variety, mass-market paperback, and has no pretensions of being anything else; it's probably embarrassed by its professional mylar jacket and by the little custom bookmark I made for it. Would it fit in a world full of Vidals and Yourcenars? (I've got those, too; but they didn't clutch at my heart.)

But, okay, I'll share: It's The Lost Eagles by Ralph Graves, published in 1955. In it, Severus Varus, nephew of the hapless general, sets out to recover the lost standards and avenge his uncle's defeat at Teutoberger Wald. I really like the character development in this one. The earnestness and idealism of the young Tribune, coupled with creative thinking and a truly terrifying level of self-discipline; his faith in the emperor Augustus, his personal vow, and having to return to a jaded Rome in the reign of a hard-nosed Tiberius; the lackluster "hero's welcome", standing in stark contrast to the respect he earns among the Germanic peoples... I love it. He learns how to function as a Roman and as a German, and infiltrates a tribe even Arminius feared--I love it. He almost throws it all away for a barbarian girl--I hate it!! But redeems himself the only way he can at that point. And Marius wept. Damn, that was good.

And yet...it's hardly a classic. It's out-of-print, completely forgotten the year after it was made, which wasn't recently. I've only ever seen two copies. I've no idea where you could get one, or whether you'd love it as I did.

Good luck in your search, however it turns out!

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Postby Aulus Flavius on Sat Apr 12, 2008 12:50 pm

Salve amici,

Marius, Marius! I was wondering when you would post :)

I did ask a pretty subjective question. Now that I look back on it I probably should have asked people about books that moved them, rather then trying to suggest one that would move me, fickle skeptic that I am.

Would it fit in a world full of Vidals and Yourcenars? (I've got those, too; but they didn't clutch at my heart.)


*gasp* Poor child! Youcenar was my Calliope made flesh! I was fortunate enough to be able to read it whilst travelling through Italy (I brought it at a the Flavian Ampitheatre).

I've found some books to keep me happy. Paul Morgan's The Pelagius Book is actually quite good. It's only a short novella, but it's written by a fellow Aussie, about the Christian 'heretic' Pelagius. Something I would recommend getting.

Other then that Ross Laidlaw's Attila: The Scourge of God is actually pretty impressive. A bit like Colleen McCullough, only without the Caesar worship.

I'll have to hunt around to see if I can find this book you've mentioned. Anything that has Marius Magnus weeping has to be worth reading :)

Vale,

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!

Postby Aldus Marius on Sat Apr 12, 2008 5:57 pm

!

A Pelagius book!!

I'm a Pelagian Christian, y'know. There, now you've given me something to search for too! >({|8-)

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Re: A Plea

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:00 am

Salvete, Amici -

Marii - Did you find the book on Pelagius? I'll be interested to hear your response to it.

Also: The Lost Eagles is on my nightstand - a brittle old copy, alas, whose spine will break and binding gently decompose as I read it. But I have it to hand.

Valete.
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