Saturday, June 28, 2014

First Man of Rome: A Short Introduction

But before I continue with some of the problems that result from guaranteeing everyone the right to form a private army dedicated to the violent overthrow of the US government, I want to move into another topic that has been tantalizing me for some time -- Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series.  So far, I have read the first book, First Man of Rome, starring Gaius Marius as the title character.  Really, I shouldn't be getting to Rome before finishing Greece, and I should start with non-fiction before moving into fiction, but the series has been a temptation to me ever since reading Shakespeare's Julius Caesar for a more favorable look at the man himself.  (Although he has just been born at the end of First Man in Rome).

I have now read the first book, and while it would be an exaggeration to say that I couldn't put it down and was walking around reading it and bumping into things, it did absorb my attention to the point of neglecting other things I probably should have been doing (like posting here), and I got through it faster than would ever seem possible for a 781 page novel.

I also read it at several levels.  One was purely a literary level, approaching it as a work of literature, albeit one bounded by actual historical events.  One was as a historical novel -- how well does it match actual historical events.  And one was as a political novel, seen from the perspective of my consuming obsession -- the failure of democratically elective government, in this case, the Roman Republic.

So I intend to discuss it in (a minimum of) three posts -- first as a pure work of literature, second as a political novel, and third, to compare it to historical events and see how accurate it is.

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