Robert Harris is an accomplished author who has brought many great stories of Ancient Rome to life through fiction, but based soundly on fact. Here we have the final 15 years in the life of Cicero, lawyer, statesman, philosopher, powerhouse in Rome. Cicero’s influence has diminished and he constantly has to be cautious about who he sees and speaks to. Banished from Rome on pain of death he finds himself out of touch and out of his comfort zone. He was built to be the centre of political life in Rome and is lost without the intrigue.
- Robert Harris
I am not going to go into the plot in any great detail as Harris does that far better than I can but Cicero finds that in the autumn of his life his power has gone, his influence so dissipated that he is now in danger of being killed just for showing face at the wrong place. This is a tale of political machinations, intrigue, bribery, murder, incest, extreme violence : pretty much the norm for Ancient Rome.
Harris weaves a superb tale of deceit and intelligence taking Cicero from the ends of the Empire back to Rome and the political life on the Forum that he loves so well. Favours are demanded and repaid, bodies are shuffled off and ambitions run riot giving a scene of terror that makes one wonder how the Roman Empire could exist, never mind survive for so long.
History tells us that eventually Cicero’s luck and favours ran out and that he was executed on the orders of the Emperor; he was beheaded and both hands cut off, which is a pretty final statement from the Emperor. But Cicero had lived life to the full and has left his mark indelibly on the history of the world; Harris brings is the full colour of that life in a wonderfully scripted and descriptive tale. Well worth the read, well worth having on your bookshelf.
4.5 Mr MRHs for Cicero.