Imperium

Imperium
Robert Harris
Historical fiction
Vintage
2006
403

This is another good book from Robert Harris. It is focussed on the life of Cicero in his time as a public figure. While Cicero is interesting for achieving high office without a power base, the descriptions of Roman life and politics are what I like the most. Narrated from the perspective of an elite slave, it shows how little things have changed in politics. It shows how much has changed socially. Then there is that broad canvass of the Roman Empire and just how civilised they were at one level and yet savage at another. The treatment of Roman citizenship was the first time it became clear to me how much this concept meant at the time. I was reminded of my reading of Gibbon and how the Enlightenment sparked a renewed interest in the Greek and Roman concepts of Republic and citizenship. How all that resulted in The Terror and Napoleon. I was also reminded of how excess wealth gets used to create power. That power can be used for many purposes and those are not much different today to 2000 years ago. The writing is again something that made me read until far too late at night. I read this reasonably large book over two nights and an afternoon. It left me wanting more.

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