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ROMAN EMPIRE -THE HISTORY... > 1. HF - FORTUNE'S FAVORITES- PART I (29 - 113 ) (07/18/11 - 07/24/11) ~ 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 FORTUNE'S FAVORITES
by Colleen McCullough.

This is the reading assignment for week one - (July 18th - July 24th)

Week 1 - July 18-24: Part I, pp. 29-113

This is the ninth 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 will be kicked off on July 18th.

This discussion is being led by assisting moderator for The Grass Crown - Vicki Cline.

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, July 18th for discussion. This is a non spoiler thread.

Welcome,

~Bentley


TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

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

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/5...

Fortune's Favorites (Masters of Rome, #3) by Colleen McCullough

by Colleen McCullough Colleen McCullough


message 2: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
It has been three years since the previous book ended with Marius’ death. Rome has been ruled by Marians while Sulla has been fighting Mithridates in Greece and Asia Minor. He concluded a treaty with Mithridates and is slowly making his way to Rome. While he was away, he developed a disease (probably diabetes) which caused his hair and teeth to fall out, and his face to itch uncontrollably, causing him to scratch at it badly. He gets temporary relief from the itching by being drunk, and finally gets an ointment which gives complete relief.

Meanwhile, Pompey, giving himself the cognomen Magnus, has collected three legions of his father’s veterans, taking them to meet up with Sulla. He plans to command them himself, rather than give them directly to Sulla. Among Sulla’s hangers-on are Verres and Catilina, both of whom will figure greatly in Cicero’s future career. Sulla doesn’t want to wage war on Rome, but hopes to conquer the Marians bloodlessly. In fact, some of the opposing legions join up with him rather than fight.

Servilia has married Marcus Junius Brutus, a descendant of the famous Brutus who freed Rome from the hated King Tarquinius Superbus and founded Rome’s Republic. She doesn’t have much respect for her husband, who’s not interested or skilled in politics, but she’s crazy about her baby son, and has a servant crucified for cuddling him because she’s so jealous.

Young Caesar is now seventeen and a half and hates being flamen Dialis. It prevents him from serving in the army, since he’s forbidden from touching iron, has to wear specific (and ridiculous) clothing and has to follow various other taboos. His uncle Marius made him take this priesthood so that he, Caesar, couldn’t be more famous than Marius. Caesar keeps hoping that Fortune will free him from this burden. He and his mother and sisters are called to Marius’ house to hear that young Marius has agreed to stand for consul, even though he’s too young, in order to rally the spirits of the Marian anti-Sulla forces.


message 3: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig It is like meeting old friends when I started this book. Pompey is some piece of work, I must say; I read the section twice where he rejects his first wife. Wow, quite cruel.

Also, Vicki, what points you to Sulla possibly having diabetes? I'm interested.


message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
And why would drinking give him temporary relief? I have to agree that this is a very addictive Roman soap opera replete with great historical research.


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

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
Bryan, I don't remember what pointed me to diabetes - I think I read it somewhere, in connection to this book. But excessive thirst is a symptom of diabetes (which I learned as a girl by reading Sue Barton, Visiting Nurse Sue Barton, Visiting Nurse (Sue Barton, #3) by Helen Dore Boylston by Helen Dore Boylston). Along with cravings for sweet things. But McCullough may have made this illness up, because I can't find anything on Google about it. Maybe she wanted to make him suffer for his sins.

And it is too bad about Pompey's wife. It sounds like he had made her feel like he really loved her. But such marriages, for political or financial convenience, were very common in the senatorial class. Sometimes it seems as though all the top families were connected by blood, marriage, or adoption.


message 6: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Thanks, Vicki; I don't remember diabetes causing rashes like that. You could be right, she could be making it up.

The marriages were totally planned for power. Pompey was brutally honest about it, though. But it seems his style, telling it like it is, very excited about warfare, too.


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

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "The marriages were totally planned for power. Pompey was brutally honest about i..."

But it looks like he was pretty late at being honest. Although it's not the kind of thing you tell your new bride. "Hi, there, first wife!" She should have had a clue when he obviously didn't want to impregnate her. I wonder how much young women were clued into the standard practice of marriage-for-current-advantage.


message 8: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Interesting, Vicki, he did tell her pretty late about all this, a couple of years in, correct? You would think she would have figure it out. Could it be her admiration, age, or immaturity that prevented her from putting all the pieces together?


message 9: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cheryl319) | 372 comments I think it is definitely Antistia's innocence and inexperience that prevents her from seeing the writing on the wall. She was so happy with him that she was probably in denial, too. I had a feeling something was up at the first mention no children - but that's because of the history I've read. Maybe she thought he just wanted to wait to have kids. Too bad - I really liked her.

Sulla almost certainly has diabetes given his symptoms - my roommate in college put on a lot of weight just before she was diagnosed with it, then lost all the weight in conjunction with the insatiable thirst, just like Sulla did. Diabetics are also prone to dry, itchy skin, which would explain the itching he talks about. The rashes could be an unlucky combination of his fair skin and the fact that diabetics' wounds don't heal easily. Maybe McCullogh did make it up, but based on evidence of Sulla's behavior and appearance during that time.

At least Sulla is back! I loved Pompey's disappointment when his first meeting with the 'great general' didn't go anything like he thought it would! And I really enjoy Sulla's attitude toward Pompey - let him think he is the user and not the used, and protect him because he is "valuable." Sulla's manipulations are brilliant, as are his military strategies: not attacking Rome right away, and oh, the swimming pool! (it reminded me of the WWI 1914 Christmas 'truces'). I loved Sulla's reaction when he saw that Pompey knew exactly what the pool was for. It will be interesting to see how the relationship between Sulla and Pompey plays out.


message 10: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new)

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
Sulla is wicked smart. I really like him as a character, but I probably wouldn't have in real life, especially if I were in his way. And she's really doing a good job with Pompey. He's also smart, but terribly vain. He seems to think the regular rules don't apply to him.


message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Aug 10, 2011 06:10AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "Interesting, Vicki, he did tell her pretty late about all this, a couple of years in, correct? You would think she would have figure it out. Could it be her admiration, age, or immaturity that pr..."

I was particularly sad for Antista; here she was so happy with her catch and then to find out he did not really love her at all. I thought he was quite brutish in the way he told her however. No sensitivity at all. And not letting her go home to stay with her parents treats her further like chattel.

You have to almost cheer Sulla on when Pompey is hoisted by his own petard especially in terms of his treatment of Antistia and that she was not worthy to have his children. What a cretin.

Like you aptly stated Vicki, I would not like to meet this guy (Sulla) in real life.


message 12: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig I think I read somewhere that Sulla was what Niccolò Machiavelli Niccolò Machiavelli had in mind when he wrote:

The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli Niccolò Machiavelli Niccolò Machiavelli


message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
That sounds right Bryan.


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