I feel like I have a lost a close friend. I have just finished Dictator, by Robert Harris.
This is the last instalment in his Cicero trilogy, which marks the end of the old senator’s life as told by Tiro, his freedman. This final book shows us the last fifteen years of Cicero’s life, which were marked by constant turmoil and two civil wars.
Let me tell you more about it.
At the end of Lustrum, Cicero found himself thrust into exile by his enemy, Clodius, a tribune who had passed a law that made it illegal for anyone to offer water or fire to the old senator—effectively signing his death penalty. There are very few friends that could offer help to Cicero or Tiro, since giving them refuge would be punished with the death penalty.
Despite this, and after making endless concessions to Caesar and Pompeii, Cicero is finally granted a pardon and returns to Rome, where he can barely speak up in public without being threatened by his many enemies.
Eventually, civil war breaks out when Caesar marches against Rome. Cicero will have to decide which side he’s on. From that moment on, endless battles, betrayal and abuses of power start to uproot the last cements of the republic—and of the senator’s life, as his domestic life suffers blow after blow.
This was also the most prolific period of this eminent man: it is then that he wrote many of his literary works, like On Friendship and On the Republic. In the middle of all the battles and chaos, he still manages to find rare moments of calm and tranquility.
But then, after Caesar is assassinated during a meeting of the Senate, Rome will descend into another civil war. This is the last chance for Cicero to shine brighter than ever—and to be extinguished by enemies far more dispassionate and unforgiving than any he had faced before.
Robert Harris has managed, with this trilogy, to captivate me like very few other books can. Whenever I was busy, I could not stop thinking about going home and reading these books. Before going to sleep, I pondered upon what I had just read and the intricacies of Rome’s political life. The fact that all of this is factual and well documented adds to the allure of the book: this is not just some fiction created for the purpose of getting readers, but the passions and treasons of our ancestors.
If you want to give this series a chance, why not start with Imperium? Click on the picture to check it out in Blackwell’s, where it’s selling at £6.29—that’s 30% of its original price!
This post is sponsored by Blackwell’s