Jack Sheppard's Reviews > Roma

Roma by Steven Saylor
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's review
Apr 06, 2011

did not like it

Sheer graphomania

It seems that the epic undertaking of “Roma” to Saylor is just a convenient disguise to publicize his idiosyncrasies, at times clearly transgressing the borders of obscenity into the realms of depravity. Regrettably, such authors find their audience, however the genre of their books should be unequivocally revealed in order not to fool wider audiences, seeking a historic narrative, into dissolute stories.
The phallic cult was not a solely Roman invention, nor was it the first and central Romas deity, as the author purports (if this were true, then where were the Fascinus temples, rites, and priests?). The use of the phallus image to repel bad charms was practiced by other earlier peoples and is likely a vestige of the Indo-European primogenitors. The idea behind this is driving away the evil with the very act of its fearless defiance by obscenity, not by worship of flying phallic fairies in the halo of pixie dust. The defiance by obscenity was not limited to penises, some might as well show their arses to show their disrespect to the enemy. Remember, for example, the scene from “Braveheart” when the Scottish militia brandish their arses to the English army. Yet nobody in their sound mind dare to claim that the Scots had a cult of the Arse.
Fascinus is not the central Roman deity, but a vestige from pre-Roman times. Such vestiges may still be found, for example, in Slavic languages, where multiple variations of “penis” are used to react to various occasions, ranging from consternation to rapture.
The book’s lewdness could still be compensated by the attractiveness of the panorama of the Roman BC history (as the book is marketed) and so I was still determined to read it, but the shallowness of Saylor’s style and the two-dimensionality of his characters stopped me after the first couple of novels. There is a vast variety of better mind-pleasing literature out there, so why waste time on graphomans?
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