Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Venus Throw (Roma Sub Rosa, #4)” as Want to Read:
The Venus Throw (Roma Sub Rosa, #4)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Venus Throw

(Roma Sub Rosa #4)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,749 ratings  ·  114 reviews
On a chill January evening in 56 B.C., two strange visitors to Rome—an Egyptian ambassador and a eunuch priest—seek out Gordianus the Finder whose specialty is solving murders, but the ambassador, a philosopher named Dio, has come to ask for something Gordianus cannot give—help in staying alive. Before the night is out, he will be murdered.

Now Gordianus begins his most dan
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 15th 1996 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published 1995)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Venus Throw, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Venus Throw

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,749 ratings  ·  114 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Simon Mcleish
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Originally published on my blog here in November 2000.

The Venus Throw is probably the best of Saylor's series of novels featuring Roman private detective Gordianus the Finder. Once again, its subject is one of the famous cases for which Cicero was an advocate at the trial. Rome in the first century BC was a fascinating place, full of interesting people and tumultuous events leading to the formation of the Empire. It is a good illustration of the Chinese curse about interesting times; it was a su
Moshe Mikanovsky
Another great tale of Gordianus the Finder, the Roman politics and intrigues, plot twists, murders, lawyers and their brilliant orations, slaves and sexual appetites and what not. The past with all its glory comes to life.
Aug 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chiggins1066 by: Victoria
I've read almost all of Saylor's Roman mysteries (save for Myst of Prophecies), and I think this one is the best. In this novel, the author turns his attention towards Alexandria, and the crisis facing the Ptolemaic dynasty. We will remember from history that an unofficial Alexandrian delegation tried to reach the Roman senate (which included the philosopher Dio), only to be assassinated outside of Rome. Since the delegation was against Ptolemy, he has long been suspected. But Saylor offers a fi ...more
Kathy Davie
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, mystery
Fourth in the Roma Sub Rosa historical mystery series set in ancient Rome and revolving around Goridanus the Finder.

My Take
It's sad to read of Rome's descent into such corruption. It started with such wonderful ideals, and now it's just a sewer. I hate to say it, but the U.S. seems to following the same path.

Reading Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa provides a more personal look at why the Republic fell. It's one thing to read historic tomes and memorize dates, but to read even a fictional account of a fa
Gordianus the Finder investigates the murder of an Egyptian philosopher who has come to Rome on a diplomatic mission. This draws him into contact with the patrician Clodia and her brother Clodius, and an intrigue with political implications.

Another disappointing episode - I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, but Books 3 and 4 have not matched them. Here the mystery is quite weak, and the solution is made obvious from an early stage. The book is therefore padded out with long info
Pamela Mclaren
Gordianus the finder is getting older; his sons are grown and out of the house and his daughter is now in her teens. So when an old friend, the philosopher Dio stops by his house in disguise and with an eunuch at his side and says that he fears for his life, Gordianus hesitates to get involved.

Shortly afterwards, his old friend dies and apparently it is murder. He is drawn into investigating the murder, as well as connected in the political intrigue. Who can he trust as people from both sides co
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Another good read from Saylor. I was on the fence re a 4 star rating (leaning toward something a little less, mainly because it dragged a bit in the middle) -- but once again he pulled it off at the end. You know its a good mystery when you think you've figured it out several times along the way, but at the end the real solution surprises you and also makes complete sense . . . all the clues were there from the get go, you just didnt see it.

Also classic Saylor in bringing Ancient Rome to life al
Leonardo Etcheto
Sep 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Very good, a great invocation of the world. The story was a little too convoluted but quite interesting. The main annoyance is that saylor has his character be extra dense sometimes so as to supposedly maintain the surprise, but often the outcome is fairly obvious and has been foreshadowed. Still I very much enjoyed this book, Rome was a crazy place at the end of the Republic.
Cáitlin O'ruadhán
Jun 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The short and the sweet of it is that if you ever loved Catullus, read this book, for Saylor brings one of THE greatest, and certainly Rome's greatest, poet of love vividly to life. And Saylor's sensuous portrayal of Clodia Pulcher makes you feel much like Catullus felt for her, and that is no mean achievement!
Beatrice Gormley
I liked this and all of Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa mysteries, but then I'm a sucker for ancient Rome, and Saylor really knows it, as if he'd spent a few years there in the Peace Corps. Saylor's P.I,, Gordianus, is sympathetic and entertaining.
This book starts with a good deal of humor when the philosopher and the eunuch disguise themselves as a man and a woman respectively. Like when Bethesda tells Gordianus about the various obscene speeches and rhymes that were made in the Forum while he was away visiting with his son Meto: "'Judges, I do not point the finger of guilt - I point at the guilty finger!'" in reference to a case Marcus Caelius prosecutes where he brought up the deaths of the defendant's wives, possibly from having a poi ...more
Sep 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Steven Saylor fans
Shelves: fiction
"Take a winding pathway to the foot of the Palatine, to a spot just behind the Temple of Castor and Pollux. Turn left. Proceed down the narrow alley (stinking of urine, and black as pitch at night) that runs behind the buildings on the north side of the Forum. As the slope of the Palatine curves away on the left-hand side, letting the alley open a bit, you will come to a cluttered area of little workshops and warehouses south of the Forum, east of the cattle markets and the river. Look for the l ...more
Greg Burton
Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoy mysteries set in ancient Rome and thought I would check out Steven Saylor as insurance for when I run out of books in the wonderful Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis. Saylor seems to stick much closer to real history in his series, starring Gordianus the Finder. While the Falco series convincingly mixes in historical personages and real historical trends, in some of the Saylor novels the crime is also a real crime and the suspects are the historical suspects. In The Venus Throw ...more
Sara G
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This might be the best book in this series yet. Gordianus the Finder is a bit older than in the previous book and is living full time in his townhouse on the Palatine. One day, an old acquaintance/teacher of his from Alexandria shows up on his doorstep. Dio of Alexandria is in fear for his life and asks Gordianus for help. Gordianus has to decline, as he has plans to leave town to visit with his adoptive son Meto (serving with Caesar's legions now!) the next day. Unfortunately, Dio is murdered t ...more
It’s been a while since I’ve read a Gordianus the Finder book, and I’m glad to be back in this world. Steven Saylor is a masterful storyteller, and his books are historical mystery at its best. In this fourth book, Gordianus investigates the murder of his old mentor Dio, a philosopher of Alexandria.

As usual, Steven Saylor depicts famous historical figures in a fascinating and memorable way. The reader can’t help being captivated by the infamous Clodia, while at the same time assuming all the wor
Sue Law
Another steady entry from the "Roma sub Rosa" series. An aging Gordianus is startled by a visit from the Egyptian philosopher Dio (whom he discoursed with on the Academy steps many years ago). Dio, part of a mission from the Egyptian government, is in fear of his life and asks Gordianus to help him. Unfortunately Gordianus is leaving on a visit to Meto next day and refuses the commission. Later that night Dio is found dead in his room with multiple stab wounds in his chest. When he returns from ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I am a pretty big Gordianus fan, but this was probably my least favorite of the books so far. Something I've liked about past books is how Gordianus interweaves his family-- Bethesda and Eco at first, but later Meto and Diana. We just didn't see all that much of them in this book, other than at the end, when Diana and Bethesda were quite involved. Gordianus is certainly aging by this point in the series, and isn't as foolhardy/adventurous as he used to be, but that wasn't really what made me not ...more
Cat Sheely
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Although I enjoyed this book for some reason it did not have the same impact as the previous three. It was a bit slow to start but once I got through the first three or four chapters it flowed fine. I think it's because Gordianus is unwilling to undertake the murder investigation of his friend Dio that I was a bit put off. Once he does begin it becomes more fun to read.

As always the detail of Roman life is exemplary, you even get the smells in the streets and the bustle of the forum as well as
I read this book as part of the second task of Book Riot's 2018 Read Harder Challenge (#A book of true crime). This was the second book I read of this series, and it was undoubtedly the weaker of the two. In this book the Gordianus is a mere spectator of the unfolding story. The characters are uninteresting and the speeches of the Roman court very extensive. The end also left me unsatisfied.
Ronald S. Gregg
Dec 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Yeah, another historical fiction mystery. I'm a sucker for these. Steven Saylor is good. I'm partial to this genre and have read many authors who attempt it. Saylor is right at the top. His characters have depth and qualities often missed in the writings of others.
How far would you go to protect the ones you love? Murder even? This is the core question Gordinanus has to find a answer for. Poison, betrayals and long held secrets in the dying days of the Roman Republic.
Leslie Nagel
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was a slog. Overwritten and totally bogged down by historical detail, I could not get myself interested in the fate of any of the characters. The first several chapters contain so much ancient Roman and Greek backstory--well. DNF
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Saylor's usual great work, although I did predict the end.
Virginia Adi
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining and illuminating
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Best in the series so far!
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
I started this about a year ago and set it aside. I am sure glad I picked it back up. Great read! Love the history.
Dennis Fischman
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
I'm in the camp of reviewers who think this is the best book in the series so far. Admittedly, I have the advantage of reading the prequel, The Seven Wonders, so when Gordianus talks about his time in Alexandria it feels like a memory of my own. Even without that, however, I think you'll love reading this book if you enjoy historical fiction, mystery, political intrigue, sex farce, clever speechmaking, and more well-rounded roles for Gordianus' family--especially the women--than you find for mo ...more
Donald Schopflocher
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rome
As always, Saylor tells an interesting story at a leisurely pace, embedded in real history and bringing the Roman Republic alive.
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Gordianus is faced with an interesting puzzle.
John Carter McKnight
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Saylor seems to alternate between heavy mystery plots and historical fiction with a mystery twist: this one is all about the mystery, though with the usual heavy political consequences and historic turning points.

A mission of 100 Egyptian nobles to Rome is subject to harrassing attacks all the way up the coast, until only one man is left in Rome, the philosopher Dio. He turns up on Gordianus The Finder's doorstep, terrified, seeking protection - from the king of Egypt and Pompey, the most power
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Nobody Loves a Centurion (SPQR, #6)
  • Ode to a Banker (Marcus Didius Falco, #12)
See similar books…
Steven Saylor is the author of the long running Roma Sub Rosa series featuring Gordianus the Finder, as well as the New York Times bestselling novel, Roma and its follow-up, Empire. He has appeared as an on-air expert on Roman history and life on The History Channel.

Saylor was born in Texas and graduated with high honors from The University of Texas at Austin, where he studied history and class

Other books in the series

Roma Sub Rosa (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa, #1)
  • Arms of Nemesis (Roma Sub Rosa, #2)
  • Catilina's Riddle (Roma Sub Rosa, #3)
  • A Murder on the Appian Way (Roma Sub Rosa, #5)
  • The House of the Vestals (Roma Sub Rosa, #6)
  • Rubicon (Roma Sub Rosa, #7)
  • Last Seen in Massilia (Roma Sub Rosa, #8)
  • A Mist of Prophecies (Roma Sub Rosa, #9)
  • The Judgment of Caesar (Roma Sub Rosa, #10)
  • A Gladiator Dies Only Once (Roma Sub Rosa, #11)