I just devoured Robert Harris’s Imperium, the first book in what will be a trilogy of historical fiction, or fictional biography, about Cicero. I read it in a couple of sittings, hardly able to put it down. It may be the best way to learn about that great man and that fascinating time, a turning point in world history. I’ve just ordered the second book in the trilogy, and I can’t wait for the third to come out.
In terms of themes that show up a lot here on this blog:
- Storytelling: Wow. Harris has Cicero’s slave and confidante Tiro tell the story from his point of view, which works well. All the details of Roman life and of the characters (Crassus, Pompey, Caesar etc etc) come to life.
- The “impostors triumph and disaster”: Cicero embodies them (though not quite as perfectly as Hannibal and Scipio do, which is why I myself chose them to tell my own story. ;))
- The tension between mobs and elites, republican and democratic power sharing, what ought to be and what is.
Among other things.
In any case, if you like The Hannibal Blog, you’re likely to like not only Hannibal and Me in January but also Imperium right now.