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ROMAN EMPIRE -THE HISTORY... > 8. HF - THE FIRST MAN IN ROME - THE SEVENTH, EIGHTH, NINTH YEARS (589 - 673) (10/25/10 - 10/31/10) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 22970 comments Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the historical fiction discussion of THE FIRST MAN IN ROME
by Colleen McCullough.

This is the reading assignment for week eight - (Oct 25th, 2010 to Oct 31st, 2010)

Week 8 - Oct 25 - 31: p 589 – 673 The Seventh Year, The Eighth Year, The Ninth Year


This is the third historical fiction group selected book.

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers if you are catching up.

This book was kicked off on September 6th; but we are now entering the eighth week of discussion

This discussion is being led by assisting moderator - Alisa. She has done an amazing job with the Supreme Court and civil rights threads and this is her first venture in moderating an historical fiction book and she is very excited to be doing this. Please support her in this effort.

We always enjoy the participation of all group members. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, but this is not available on Kindle or audible.

This thread opens up Monday, October 25th for discussion. Although, Alisa may open this thread up earlier due to her different time zone. This is a non spoiler thread.

Welcome,

~Bentley


TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome, #1) by Colleen McCulloughColleen McCullough

Alisa is using the current version available to her as follows:

The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome, #1)

Please feel free to research the complete Table of Contents and Syllabus on this thread:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/3...


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments This chapter is long and broken out into three parts. There may understandably be a little crossover between these next few weeks discussions so do your best not to post spoilers.

Chapter seven begins with Sulla organizing Marius's Triumph in Rome. Marius wants a short triumphal march so as to concentrate on the banquet in the temple of Jupiter afterward. Sulla considers this wish a mark of Marius's lack of patrician origins, because a true patrician would want to focus on the triumph itself. Sulla, learning that the captured Jugurtha has been sowing discord aimed at him, decides that instead of the customary hanging, Jugurtha will be executed by being buried alive.

After his triumph, Marius addresses the Senate. He argues that because of the many recent wars, the Italian allies of Rome have had their male, farmer population decimated. It is time, he argues, to free all slaves of Italian descent so that they can again work the farms of Italy and, if needed, serve in Roman legions. The Senate debates the measure and are not at all happy about the prospect, but eventually the bill is passed. Marius then leaves with Sulla to march his troops to Gaul and to meet the Germans.


Marius decides to take the longer seaward route to Gaul rather than traverse the Alps. He does this because it provides a better strategic position and he heavily fortifies his position, assuming he may need to stay there for a while. Digging in, he has his men repair roads and bridges in the vicinity of their territory to aid the movement of Roman troops. Sulla, realizing that the army will be encamped for a long time fortifying their position and awaiting the Germans, starts to feel a strong desire for excitement and drama. He proposes to Marius that he be allowed to disguise himself and become a spy among the Germans. From two captured slaves, Sulla has learned the German languages and he believes his plan will give the army much needed information and him much needed excitement. He takes Quintus Sertorius along with him on this adventure.


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments Sulla! This guy is everywhere. I find it quite fascinating that he has his own ideas about what a proper procession should and should not be but goes along with Marius' wishes nonetheless. I suspect he is imagining what his own procession and party would be like - and we know what a Sulla party is like!


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments Sulla finds a way to exercise his influence and intimidation tactics in deciding Jugurtha's fate. Jugurtha seems prepared to accept his end as a hanging, and is taken aback when Sulla decides otherwise by burying him alive. This is one cruel dude.


message 5: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1399 comments Showing the triumph from Jugurtha's POV was interesting. Also interesting that Rome didn't have prisons per se but kept important prisoners in nobles' houses, sometimes for quite a long time, as with Jugurtha's sons.

I like the foreshadowings of the famous Caesar that crop up here and there. Like Martha predicting (back in the 108 BC section) that even though Marius would be famous and be consul seven times, Julia's nephew would be the greatest Roman of all time. And Jugurtha's wondering what would happen if someone came along with Marius' gifts but was patrician.


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments Keeping the 'important' prisoners in the home of a noble surprised me. It seemed like a form of recognition that even though, in this case Jugurtha, you would be led off to slaughter, that you were nonetheless likely from ruling class stock and were therefore due to be treated as such until meeting your fate. Maybe they had so many that they could not house deposed leaders in an individual cell.

You make a good point about the foreshadowing of Caesar.

Martha seemed pleased to be escorted back to Rome. I loved the description of her in Marius' procession. I have this image of an Elizabeth Taylor ala Cleopatra like set up, being carried in and adorned in fine threads.


message 7: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9888 comments You see officers being housed in homes as late as the American Revolution. It seems someone is going to get King Copillus as a house guest.


message 8: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9888 comments Alisa wrote: "Sulla finds a way to exercise his influence and intimidation tactics in deciding Jugurtha's fate. Jugurtha seems prepared to accept his end as a hanging, and is taken aback when Sulla decides othe..."

And he strikes again killing his slaves. He even volunteers to kill them with a cross bow like a hunt.


message 9: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1399 comments Yes, Sulla and Marius both are unconcerned about disposing of "property." Fairly shocking for us but probably not so for most of the upper class then. Of course, these weren't household slaves, where you might have grown fond of them.


message 10: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (last edited Oct 26, 2010 12:05PM) (new)

Bryan Craig | 9888 comments Vicki wrote: "Yes, Sulla and Marius both are unconcerned about disposing of "property." Fairly shocking for us but probably not so for most of the upper class then. Of course, these weren't household slaves, w..."

Yeah, you don't get a sense that Sulla is attached to them. You suppose he wanted to keep a lid on his spying scheme by not selling them, but killing them right away. I just have a scene in my head where Sulla is smiling while killing the last slave.


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments I think Sulla has limited capability for being attached to anyone. He has not his entire life and I doubt he is going to start now. He has a glimmer of attachment to his children but otherwise it's all disposable to him. For him it exclusively means to an end.


message 12: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9888 comments In this chapter, we also see Livia again. She still remains a prisoner in a horrible marriage. You think her reciting King Odysseus was intentional to get her out of the house? It was a gamble, but it worked.


message 13: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1399 comments Yes, it was sort of funny how she finally got to go out of the house, never thinking she only had to ask. What a pill her brother was, although he had the best intentions. And it shows she does have some spine.


message 14: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (last edited Oct 29, 2010 05:52AM) (new)

Bryan Craig | 9888 comments It is funny how she did it; I wonder how far she is going to take this and will it mean trouble down the road??


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments I think she is getting a taste of finding her own way. Finally getting out of the house had to be liberating, I doubt she will stop there. At least I hope for her own sake!


message 16: by Bryan, Assisting Moderator - Presidential Series (new)

Bryan Craig | 9888 comments Me too, and it would add great fun to the book. I have to say I'm hooked and will probably have to read the entire series!


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments Ha! The lure of the Romans will do that you!


message 18: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (last edited Oct 29, 2010 10:31AM) (new)

Vicki Cline | 1399 comments Bryan, you won't be sorry. I've read all but the most recent one ( Antony and Cleopatra (Masters of Rome, #7)) once and many of them twice. So this is my third time for this one. You really get to know the characters well, and the women are especially interesting, although she had to make up most of what she wrote about them, because the ancient writers didn't have much to say about women.

Also, be sure to read the entire Glossary. There's a lot to learn in there about how Rome worked.


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments The slave war and grain manipulation are a little confusing - I'm not sure I have followed this part of the story with absolute clarity - but am intrigued that Marius views this as a political opportunity even though he is not in Rome.


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments There are numerous passages in this book that are letters between Marius and Rutilius Rufus. Lengthy letters, the two men seem to have very different writing styles. I am assuming based on what we know of the author's research that these are part of the extensive library she relied on (and not part of her fictional development)...what do you think of the styles, and how the relationahsip between these two men develops through their correspondence?


message 21: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1399 comments I love the way she uses the letters for exposition about what's happening in Rome, so that Rufus and Marius can add humorous asides. I suspect she got the styles from the numerous letters Cicero wrote and received which we still have Cicero Letters to Atticus (Loeb Classical Library). Also perhaps from Pliny's letters Pliny the Younger  Correspondence With Trajan from Bithynia (Epistles X, Classical Texts Series), although Cicero's were much more informal.


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments Vicki wrote: "I love the way she uses the letters for exposition about what's happening in Rome, so that Rufus and Marius can add humorous asides. I suspect she got the styles from the numerous letters Cicero w..."

Thanks for the references. Remember to add the author link as well.
Cicero Letters to Atticus (Loeb Classical Library)by Marcus Tullius CiceroMarcus Tullius Cicero
Pliny the Younger  Correspondence With Trajan from Bithynia (Epistles X, Classical Texts Series)byPliny the Younger


Karol Sulla becoming a spy was quite interesting to me as well.

I also continue to be intrigued by the relationship between Sulla and Marius. Sulla bails Marius out of a social misstep, yet realizes that he cannot push Marius too far. The conversation that Sulla has with Julia shows how well they each know Marius.

How many murders has Sulla committed by now . . . mistress, stepmother, stepbrother, king, slaves. One can only wonder who is next. Jullila is probably lucky that he is already considering divorce . . . vs something else.


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments I agree, that whole situation with Sulla becoming a spy was fascinating. He slips into a change of character so easily, and in some ways very similar to how he changed character in the early part of the book after he offed his stepmother. He is a man of many stripes, to be sure.


message 25: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1399 comments Well, Sulla was always drawn to actors. I wonder if he was so interested in them because he saw fellow spirits, or did he discover his true nature by hanging out with them.


message 26: by Alisa (last edited Nov 19, 2010 03:23PM) (new)

Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments Vicki, I see what you mean about Sulla as a man of action, had not thought about it that way before. I wonder if he was a little bored, knowing that there was no intention to engage in battle for awhile so he came up with a way to seek out a new adventure.


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments Ok, that's what I get for reading this on my handheld. Vicki, I read this initially as 'drawn to action.' Ha! Well, maybe enough similarity nonetheless.


Karol Alisa wrote: "Ok, that's what I get for reading this on my handheld. Vicki, I read this initially as 'drawn to action.' Ha! Well, maybe enough similarity nonetheless."

Alisa, LOL. Somehow, your comment does seem to fit either "actor" or "action" - it must be a weird type of karma or something.


Alisa (MsTaz) | 5288 comments I imagined people reading that comment and wondering 'what was she thinking?' . . . It's all good. :-)


message 30: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Master of Rome Series (new)

Vicki Cline | 1399 comments Yes, actually that's what I was wondering, but any comment is OK by me. Even though it wasn't responsive to what I said, it's still a valid thought, he does seem to really like action.


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