Ancient & Medieval Historical Fiction discussion

A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening
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Monthly Group Reads > SEPTEMBER 2015 ~ A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening by Mário de Carvalho

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message 2: by Jane (last edited Sep 02, 2015 12:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 3456 comments This book has haunted me; this is my reread of several times. I STILL do not understand why Lucius is obsessed with Iunia--not that he does either....

Once you folks get to this part, please share your speculations.

Such gorgeous descriptions of the Lusitania [Portugal] of the 2nd century A.D. And I love the introspection of Lucius.


Eileen Iciek | 543 comments I think Lucius has seen something in Iunia that attracts him. I'm not sure if it is a purity he wishes he has, an honesty he wishes he has, or if it is a sexual attraction. It doesn't come across as sexual, but that may play a part.

This novel was historical, but it was almost more allegory than anything else.


Jane | 3456 comments I've read it several times and have found nothing sexual; he and his wife Mara are happily married. Iunia IS the elder daughter of his friend; he doesn't seem to be attracted to her religion. Maybe her idealism attracts him? The book seemed to me to be Idealism [Lucius] against Realpolitik [Rufus, the candidate for aedile and the rest of the government officials--the decemvirs]


message 5: by Teanka (last edited Sep 03, 2015 11:26AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Teanka | 54 comments I don't think that there is much to understand. It's attraction or even love. It has to be purely emotional, because at the rational level Lucius is irritated and exasperated by Iunia.

Eileen wrote: "This novel was historical, but it was almost more allegory than anything else. "

I agree. Even Tarcisis never existed. Maybe, as you put it, Jane, Lucius embodied idealism, but to me he was not fit to rule the city. And he behaved in a very unRoman way. I confess that I disliked him quite a lot.

It seems that this thread is not linked to the actual book...?

EDIT: sorry, it seems there is some general problem with this feature on GR right now.


Jane | 3456 comments In the Foreword it DOES state he is "in love" with her, but I confess I didn't see it. Maybe that's what he means when he says he feels responsibility for her as the daughter of an old friend? Maybe the author is putting some of himself into the novel as he "went into exile" after the Salazar regime. Funny, I disliked Iunia and these Christians but admired Lucius.


Teanka | 54 comments I disliked Iunia because she was a religious fanatic. I disliked Lucius because he didn't have the strength of character to carry out his duties. I did not see him as an idealist but as someone who couldn't control himself and concentrate on what he should be doing because he was obsessed with Iunia.

I think he was trying to rationalize his feelings for Iunia by convincing himself that he was responsible for her. After all, his reaction to Clelia was quite the opposite, and she was also a daughter of the same old friend.


Eileen Iciek | 543 comments Teanka wrote: "I disliked Iunia because she was a religious fanatic. I disliked Lucius because he didn't have the strength of character to carry out his duties. I did not see him as an idealist but as someone wh..."

I didn't dislike Iunia, but I found her to be a stiff necked individual with impossibly high standards. The fervor of the converted perhaps? Lucius may have been attracted to her, loved her even, but I don't think he was in love with her, though he might have thought he was.

So what did we learn from this novel? That some people admire the religiously devout who are single minded in their faith - and not just in our times? That political complacency can lead us to ignore the enemies almost at our doors? Plus ca change....


Teanka | 54 comments Don't you think that the way Lucius behaved was essentially going against what Romans believed a magistrate should do? He didn't care for his clients, he never tried to negotiate terms with his enemies, and he ignored all the advice given to him by both the Emperor Marcus Aurelius himself and by the local Roman senator.

In the prologue, when I had no idea what had happened to Lucius before and why he was in exile, I sympathised with him quite a lot. But he lost all my sympathy as the story progressed. In the end, I simply decided that he only got what he deserved. Notice that the reason he stood up for Junia wasn't because of his 'idealism' (he didn't care in the least about the rest of the Christians) but because of his inexplicable obsession with her. At the same time, he abhorred the Christian religion, so in fact, when trying to save her, he acted in spite of his own beliefs which is basically why I don't like him. His feelings got the better of his reason. The only person I feel sorry about is his wife.


Eileen Iciek | 543 comments Teanka wrote: "Don't you think that the way Lucius behaved was essentially going against what Romans believed a magistrate should do? He didn't care for his clients, he never tried to negotiate terms with his ene..."

Good comments Teanka, although you are a little harder on Lucius than I would be. You are correct about the inexplicable obsession - there really wasn't any particular reason for it that I can recall.


message 11: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 3456 comments I WAS a little confused on Lucius's reasoning but I tried to drum up some kind of rationale. See Message #6.


message 12: by rajesh (new)

rajesh kumar (rajeshprime) | 2 comments Iam new in goodreads and i need to know the Books with best authours on historical fiction....


message 13: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments I would direct you to this thread https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

It includes three top ten lists of books in the Historical Fiction genre that each of the moderators think someone should start with.

This particular thread is for this months group read though, and not for general questions.


message 14: by rajesh (new)

rajesh kumar (rajeshprime) | 2 comments thanks for the information....


Teanka | 54 comments Eileen wrote: "Good comments Teanka, although you are a little harder on Lucius than I would be. You are correct about the inexplicable obsession - there really wasn't any particular reason for it that I can recall.
"


Heh I'm harder on him because I like the Romans so much. And the times of the Republic are definitely my favourite time period, while allowing Christianity in meant in consequence the fall of the Roman empire.


Eileen Iciek | 543 comments Teanka wrote: "Eileen wrote: "Good comments Teanka, although you are a little harder on Lucius than I would be. You are correct about the inexplicable obsession - there really wasn't any particular reason for it ..."

I doubt that Christianity did in the Roman empire. If that were the case, then the Byzantines should not have lasted for the millennium or so after the Romans fell.

My opinion is it had more to do with economic problems following the split between east and west. The east was where the wealth was at that time; once it had its own emperor and court, the west was starved for money. The individuals with any energy and initiative chose to go east to make their fortunes, rather than stay in a crumbling west. Sort of like Syrians going to Germany these days!


message 17: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 3456 comments Yes, with the Goths and other barbarians one might make a tenuous comparison with ISIS and those other zealous groups.


message 18: by Teanka (last edited Sep 09, 2015 11:59AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Teanka | 54 comments Well, of course that it was just one of the factors but nevertheless an important one. At least part of what I like about Ancient Rome no longer existed once the empire ceased to be religiously tolerant. What I should have written is that allowing Christianity in marked an important change in the policy of the Roman empire.

I thought Iunia was a fanatic because she was seeking martyrdom at all costs, regardless of people who cared for her (her father, for instance) and her fellow Christians.

Jane wrote: "Maybe the author is putting some of himself into the novel as he "went into exile" after the Salazar regime. Funny, I disliked Iunia and these Christians but admired Lucius. "

In that case, I would agree with you, Jane, that Lucius' behaviour was admirable. And, indeed, this is probably the way to read this novel. It was so popular in Portugal in the 90. that it had to resonate with the people there on another level than just as a historical novel set in ancient times. I let my general opinion of what is proper for a Roman magistrate bias my judgment of Lucius as a person. He wasn't a good politician, that's for sure.


message 19: by Jane (last edited Sep 10, 2015 06:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 3456 comments Teanka, I agree that Lucius's actions were not according to what Romans would generally expect out of a person in authority. So, although he held strongly to his personal principles and did what he thought was the best for the town's welfare, he was a failure in Realpolitik.


message 20: by J.D. (new) - added it

J.D. (Thunderhorse) | 10 comments I hope I'm being appropriate here, I have not been on here in months. I get email alerts though and have kept up. I am working on a project that consumes my time, but you all don't forget about me. I can't read the monthly book, either, so I will just observe your comments. I really miss being in the fray though!


message 21: by Sara (new)

Sara | 82 comments I haven't yet read the book, but could someone tell me what you make of the title in connection to the story of the book? I don't mind spoilers on this one, by the way.


message 22: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 3456 comments If you read the book you can see the connection. This [almost] Biblical quote from Genesis is used a couple of times in the book.


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