Monday, June 04, 2007

Eh-hum # 162

Just a thought: I know there aren't many readers of this blog (save my friends who would visit and have linked mine to theirs), but that doesn't stop me from sharing some ideas and writing down my opinions on matters I've heard, read and experienced. And now, for those of who came upon this blog by accident, let me tell you something about this novel I just finished reading 30 minutes ago entitled Imperium.

I began writing this at 12:38 am Japan time. Am wide awake, thanks to the (free) caramel-blended coffee I indulged in right after a hefty (and free) tonkatsu lunch. Instead of staring at the ceiling, I thought this was a good time for me to update me blog.

To put it bluntly, I thought it was an excellent read and I really liked it (so much so that I've decided to talk about it in a separate post, hwehweh). Indeed, it is "gripping and fast-paced" and humorous as well. I read it obsessively, even on the train to and from the church (I rarely read while inside moving vehicles, I get an headache afterwards). It is a fictional biography of Cicero, particularly on his struggle for power in Rome. Nonetheless, the author did a significant amount of research to breathe life into it, as there were people that existed and events that really occured, such as Cicero bringing Gaius Verres, a corrupt Sicilian governor, to court (one of the highlights).

I also got a good helping of Ancient Roman politics, which amazingly is no different at all from what we are experiencing (at least, by most democratic countries) now. The good, (and mostly) the bad and the ugly in politics are discussed, such as bribery and vote buying during elections; the common people versus the elites; delaying tactics in court/senate; the use of fear and panic as a means (the war on; and self-interest before the welfare of the voters. What is more interesting are the politicians, the senators of the time. Some could've been considered as principled men, but the lot were megalomaniacs with huge appetites for power (ex-military men in particular) and serial opportunists always on the lookout for the winning side/group. However, I am of the opinion that politicians of ancient times studied their law, politics, philosophy seriously (for the love of learning), and like Cicero, were brilliant orators. Now, most of them are well-educated actors accompanied by an army of ghostwriters and researchers. Oh well.

My verdict: a must read for anyone interested in Ancient Rome, its politics and intriguing personalities. Plus, it contains some insights worth remembering, example: "Sometimes it is foolish to articulate an ambition too early - exposing it prematurely to the laughter and skepticism of the world can destroy it before it is even properly born. But sometimes the opposite occurs, and the very act of mentioning a thing makes it suddenly seem possible, even plausible." Expressed by the narrator, Tiro, on the night Cicero announced his interest to run for consul.

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