The History Book Club discussion

ROMAN EMPIRE -THE HISTORY... > 6. HF - THE FIRST MAN IN ROME - THE SIXTH YEAR (419 - 504) (10/11/10 - 10/17/10) ~ No spoilers, please

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

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

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

This is the reading assignment for week six - (Oct 11th, 2010 to Oct 17th, 2010)

Week 6 - Oct 11 - 17: p 419 – 504 The Sixth 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 sixth 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 11th for discussion. Although, Alisa may open this thread up earlier due to her different time zone. This is a non spoiler thread.




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

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

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

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

message 2: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Marius has decided to sit out the winter in Cirta, while Sulla holds Utica. Jugurtha is still on the loose, but King Bocchus of Mauretania has finally decided to formally ally with Rome. Sending his ambassador to Utica, believing Marius will be there, rather than Cirta, Bochhus's man finds Sulla, not Marius. Sulla sends word back to Marius, who in turn tasks Sulla with telling King Bocchus that he needs to deliver Jugurtha alive to Marius if he wants forgiveness from Rome. Sulla sails to a town held by Bocchus, but instead of finding the king, who has fled, he finds an advisor to the king Volux.

Volux informs Sulla that the king has fled because Jugurtha, aware of Sulla's visit, is in the neighborhood. Volux offers to take Sulla to the king's camp outside of town. Sulla asks Volux to ride at night with him through Jugurtha's camp to prove his trustworthiness. They both successfully ride through Jugurtha's camp at night and Sulla, trusting the Mauretanian, proceeds on to Bocchus's camp. The king, however, balks at the idea of giving up a kinsman to the Romans, though, after much cajoling, the king agrees. Through subtle maneuvering, Sulla captures Jugurtha and rides with him back to his men and ultimately back to Marius. The African war is over.

Meanwhile, in Rome, Gaius Julius Caesar the elder is dying of a malignant throat tumor. His son Gaius, set up by Rufus, is engaged to marry the most sought after woman in Rome, Aurelia. Not being rich enough to buy his own home, the Caesar's and Aurelia's family agree that it will be best for the young couple to buy an insula in the Subura where they can live cheaply and draw a rent from the other tenants. After the marriage of Aurelia and Gaius, they do move to the insula and begin their life together. Shortly after, Gaius the elder dies.

Still in Narbo, Caepio receives a letter from young Marcus Livius Drusus asking for a marriage alliance between their two families. Drusus will marry Caepio's daughter and Caepio's son, a friend of Drusus's, will marry Drusus's sister. Caepio agrees to the arrangement. Dursus's sister, Livia, is appalled at the notion, despising the younger Caepio, though her brother eventually persuades her that the marriage is in her family's interest and she relents.

message 3: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
This is a very interesting section, with the introduction of two new female characters, Aurelia and Livia. Aurelia is the lucky one, being allowed to marry whomever she wants and finding someone she falls in love with. Poor Livia, having to marry someone she hates and having to pretend to like it.

I also like the floor plans of the two houses, Aurelia's insula and the Drusus mansion. There's a book on Pompeii with lots of great pictures and floor plans that I was reminded of - Pompeii A guide to the ancient city by Salvatore Ciro Nappo by Salvatore Ciro Nappo.

message 4: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) New women characters, one of which (Livia) is not unlike one of the previous characters, Julilla. Intriguing how they contrast the women in this book as either good or evil.

message 5: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
I don't really think Livia is much like Julilla, even though she did stage a mini-rebellion. Her brother is not much like Gaius Julius, and she did finally give in. Also, I don't think of Julilla as evil, just neurotic. I guess Livia is a bit also, but who could blame her, being shut up in that big house and not having any friends.

message 6: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Sulla taking Jugurtha! Great part and crafty, doing something many could not.

The two women are interesting. The part that Livia is finally broken is a little chilling. Her heart broken and seems robotic.

message 7: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) That Sulla is viciously bright, he has a taste for bringing others down or should I say taking them out. Like a spider, trapping others in his web.

message 8: by Alisa (last edited Oct 16, 2010 12:58PM) (new)

Alisa (mstaz) I do like the description of the living quarters of the Roman families. I think about modern day Rome where the bulk of the living quarters are very small and confined. The palatial homes do exist but it's hardly the norm. Aurelia gets stuck with a small highly protected room by virtue of being the only young woman in the house. Still pretty well appointed, can't be all that bad.

message 9: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Looking at the maps and reading the description, the city does seem cramped a bit.

message 10: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Modern day Rome? The core of the ancient city is packed! It's so intriguing to go into some of these small hotels or homes and apartment buildings that have been all divided off into small individual living quarters that were once part of a much larger individual home. Most of what is standing today dates to a much later time than subject of this book but the foundations of the older homes are there, and the Palatine is still a location of some magnificent homes.

Those Drusus living quarters are quite the spread, seem indicative of the larger noble homes of the era. I noticed that it describes the Caesar home as being a fraction of the size. Must have been pretty good sized.

message 11: by Alisa (last edited Oct 17, 2010 03:09PM) (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Sulla wants the credit for the Jugurtha capture and frankly it's hard to blame him, he is quite crafty. Notice though that he has zero interest in a visit with Martha who has foretold Marius' future (according to Marius.) That part about how he knows his own darkness...hmmm, he seems to know his dark side is not apt to evaporate so quickly.

message 12: by Karol (new)

Karol I agree that Sulla showed his craftiness in the taking of Jugurtha. In a way, I pitied the African Royals - being no match for the lowest person on the ladder of governance in Rome. But, Sulla is no ordinary quaestor.

The whole process of arranging the marriages of Aurelia and Livia highlights, in my mind, how much women were treated at property. Even for one so clearly doted on as Aurelia, the primary concern seemed to be the political impact of either marriage, or turning down a prospective suitor. The only reason Aurelia got to choose her life partner was because her parents did not want to deal with personal political fallout that would come from turning down so many of the suitors.

message 13: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Kay, your description of how women are treated is spot on. They have a specific role and limited say in their destiny except as through whatever powers of persuasion and manipulation they have through their fathers and husbands. The few women who are head of household are those who are no longer with a husband - such as the case with Marius' first wife who we saw earlier in the book - and she was shipped off to live somewhere outside of Rome where presumably she would rarely be seen.

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