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ROMAN EMPIRE -THE HISTORY... > 10. HF - THE FIRST MAN IN ROME - THE SEVENTH, EIGHTH, NINTH YEARS (735 - 821) (11/8/10 - 11/14/10) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Nov 07, 2010 05:30PM) (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 ten - (November 8, 2010 to November 14th, 2010)

Week 10 - Nov 8 - 14: p 735 – 821 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 tenth 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, November 8th 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 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:

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


message 2: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) After Sulla and Marius return to Rome, the Senate elects Marius consul again. Sulla has grown cold to Julilla. She become little more than a drunk, neglecting her children and quarreling with her mother. Julilla, distraught at the lack of love from Sulla, commits suicide after seeing her beloved Sulla in the embrace of Metrobius. Sulla leaves his children in the care of his mother-in-law as he accompanies Marius back to Gaul.

Marius's co-consul, Catulus Caesar, leads another army to face the German threat coming directly through the middle pass of the Alps. Marius plans to deal with the Teutones first and then to join Catullus's army before Boirix can cross the Alps. Fearing that Catullus will endanger his army, Marius sends Sulla to watch over the other army. The Cimbri cross the Alps before Marius can meet up with the other army and Catullus is intent on meeting them in a narrow mountain pass. Sulla, realizing that this strategy means suicide, institutes a mutiny to force Catullus to retreat. The threat works just in time as the Cimbri pour out of the mountains just as the last legionnaires are retreating over the bridge. A last minute charge by a solid centurion saves the entire army.

The Teutones finally attack Marius, all 113,000 of them against Marius's 37,000 soldiers. In one day Marius massacres all the Germans and sells the rest into slavery. He sends news of the victory back to Rome. The people are overjoyed and vote Marius consul for the next year in absentia. Marius takes his troops to meet up with the other army and to face the rest of the German horde.


message 3: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Julilla commits suicide by throwing herself against Sulla's sword! Dramatic and tragic, what a horrific turn of events. Sulla doesn't event seem to blanche at this, and before he leaves Rome again orders his mother-in-law to find him a new wife before he returns. He may care for his children, but he must have ice water in his veins.


message 4: by Alisa (last edited Nov 08, 2010 04:39PM) (new)

Alisa (mstaz) It really seems like the tension between Marius and Sulla is growing. Marius trusts Sulla enough to send him off to handle Catulus, but Sulla seems to be growing impatient.


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

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
Yes, poor Julilla. She doesn't seem to have ever been happy, except maybe when she first married Sulla. Too bad he wanted a standard Roman matron rather than a love-sick neurotic. I don't really blame her too much for taking to drink - both her husband and mother are cold. On the other hand, I don't know what they could have done to "fix" her.


message 6: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) It's odd, she managed to marry the man she worked so hard to attract in a society of arranged marraiges but was so blinded by her own goal that she did not see marrying someone who did not love her was going to result in her unhappiness. It did not help that she was spoiled and indulged as a young woman by her parents, which surely contributed to her mother's resentment in having to move in with her and look after her as her drinking got worse.

I'm not sure Sulla *wanted* a Roman matron before this (Metrobius is his object of desire) but because of the children he now has no choice.


message 7: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
I think he wanted someone respectable who would help make him look like a serious Roman politician. Julilla's family connections couldn't have been better, but she couldn't play the role he needed.


message 8: by Bryan (last edited Nov 10, 2010 08:19AM) (new)

Bryan Craig Vicki wrote: "Yes, poor Julilla. She doesn't seem to have ever been happy, except maybe when she first married Sulla. Too bad he wanted a standard Roman matron rather than a love-sick neurotic. I don't really..."

Yeah, I think there is enough dysfunction between the both of them. When I read the scene, I kept going back and forth. I felt bad for Sulla with Julilla, then back to feeling for Julilla, but in the end, they both are messed up.

It is interesting that I felt he truly loved his German wife and kids; he was happy, but could not stay.


message 9: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Her parents enabled her. Recall earlier in the book when Marius was first introduced on the scene and there was a discussion between Gaius Caesar and his wife about how the girls were different from each other and they indulged Julilla, as Julia was the more self-sufficient one. Sad, really.


message 10: by Bryan (last edited Nov 10, 2010 08:26AM) (new)

Bryan Craig Good point, Alisa, I do remember now. It also must have been hard for Julilla having Sulla be gone for so long, too. Being obsessed with Sulla, add fuel to the flame. Thinking about it, Sulla might have killed her if he was home full-time.


message 11: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Fascinating the way Sulla takes over (the "mutiny") to save them from ruin by the Cimbrics. There is no manuever that escapes Sulla.


message 12: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Bryan wrote: "Good point, Alisa, I do remember now. It also must have been hard for Julilla having Sulla be gone for so long, too. Being obsessed with Sulla, add fuel to the flame. Thinking about it, Sulla mi..."

Essentially he did by being spied upon by her when he was with Metrobius. She realized he would never love her and it destroyed the little hope she was clinging to. The only difference this time is that he did not plan it as a deliberate act.


message 13: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig So true, Alisa. And Marcia knew Julilla's destruction-giving Sulla a plan for divorce and saying her suicide was for the best. We have the makings of a Greek tragedy here.


message 14: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
Alisa wrote: "Fascinating the way Sulla takes over (the "mutiny") to save them from ruin by the Cimbrics. There is no manuever that escapes Sulla."

Yes, I really liked his take-charge attitude, and also he recognizes that the centurions are really the ones who win wars. Thanks goodness Catulus was able to back down and pretty much save his face.


message 15: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig I agree, Sulla is very cunning indeed. I think many people would not have realized it was a foolish plan and not back down, but I think you add Sulla's mutiny plan, it was a great insurance policy to get what he needed done.


message 16: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
One of my favorite quotes in this chapter is when Sulla tells Catulus that no one can topple the First Man (whoever he may be). "When they fall, they fall because they rot from within." It will be interesting to see if this happens to Marius and whoever succeeds him.


message 17: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) That is a great quote from the book. Love it.


message 18: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Another one falls on the sword. Marcus Aemilius Junior is forced to deliver news of his own military failure to Rome and to his father, who dissowns him. Gruesome way to go but one of the few ways to take your own life during the time I guess. Seems like it would take a LOT of determination and some precision of planning. Yikes.


message 19: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig I know, we have 2 suicides. Marcus' death reminds me of Japanese society-hari kari.


message 20: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
Seems very similar to the Japanese custom. Honor and all that. It's too bad men in the upper classes are more or less defined by how they do in war.


message 21: by Alisa (last edited Nov 14, 2010 01:57PM) (new)

Alisa (mstaz) For Marcus it was just as much bringing disrespect to the family name as much as it was military failure. He seemed to be able to live with the military failure, although it would have ended his military career. It was after his father expelled him from the house that he chose to end it all.


message 22: by Karol (new)

Karol Interesting to contrast the two suicides. This is simplistic, but Julilla's was out of a self-absorbed "he doesn't care about me" while Marcus was out of knowledge that he had let down his father, and brought shame to his family name and to Rome. Both were tragic of course. But am I an evil person for being a tad relieved that the sniveling Julilla is no longer a part of the story?

Did anyone read what the author wrote about Julilla in the glossary? It's interesting that she is a made-up character among names of people that actually existed. Apparently not much is known of Sulla's first wife, so the author had to fill in some gaps. I had wondered just WHY the author included this woman in the novel - the glossary was illuminating on this point.

I most enjoyed the description of the "mutiny". Gaius Marius was wise in sending Sulla. His confidence that Sulla would figure out what to do when the time came to act was spot on. Sulla proved his practical wisdom - "street smarts", I suppose.


message 23: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
I think one of the reasons for Julilla was to make a close connection between Marius and Sulla from the beginning, since both of them are so important to this period of Roman history. Having them be brothers-in-law provides a good reason for them to like each other. Sulla really did serve with Marius during the Jugurthine war but just being fellow officers doesn't give enough juice to the plot. I think McCullough does a fantastic job of making a believable plot out of very few known facts. Particularly since most of her characters are real people. Of all the important ones, I think the only truly fictional ones are Julilla and Lucius Decumius.


message 24: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Kay and Vicki, you both make some good points about Julilla. The glossary description on her was helpful, and makes sense to use her as the early connection between Marius and Sulla. Otherwise it seems unlikely that they would establish as deep of a connection as they did early in their relationship.


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