Right, so today I finished reading book one of Conn Iggulden’s Emperor series (which one can find here). While I did enjoy the book quite a bit, as I do with most historical fiction (especially Roman), there is one looming fact that I must address.
The novel, which covers Caesar’s childhood and beginnings into adolescence, presents itself as the prototypical “weak child who must become strong to save his friends/family/city” trope. Whilst I have no issue with this notion (the truth of Caesar’s actual childhood is unfortunately lost), there are historical inaccuracies that make the book almost too distracting to finish. And while I’m sure that Mr. Iggulden has used creative licence to create a more interesting story (for example making Caesar an only child when in reality he had two sisters), the ending has me in a rage.
Okay, so noted earlier, Caesar is presented as an only child in this book. He does have a friend his own age that his mother and father have graciously brought in to their household. The friend, Marcus, is presented as just that throughout ninety-nine percent of the story. Caesar, in contrast, begins as Gaius (his given name), but is later referred to as Julius (family name) after his first marriage. Now, spoilers for the end of the book, but Marcus’s cognomen is finally revealed on the last page. Having some knowledge on the setting already, I expected Marcus to be revealed as Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony for you haters of Latin). While the timelines don’t quite match historically (Caesar being 17 years Antonius’s senior), they were close enough in life that I felt the “brother” connection overruled the actual age gap (and again creative license was taken to have them both the same age in the story).
Guess what though?
IT’S GODDAMN MARCUS BRUTUS! THE MOST FAMOUS CONSPIRATOR AT CAESAR’S EVENTUAL ASSASSINATION. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? DESPITE BEING 15 YEARS YOUNGER THAN CAESAR HISTORICALLY, WHY WOULD “THE BEST FRIEND” IN THE NOVEL BE THE ONE WHO HISTORICALLY WAS REFERENCED TO AS A SON TO CAESAR? IT MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. AT LEAST ANTONIUS AND CAESAR HUNG OUT WHEN THEY WERE CRUSHING GAUL. THEY COULD BE DESCRIBED AS FRIENDS, SURELY. BUT BRUTUS AND CAESAR, WHAT?
Good book though.
IF BOOK FOUR ENDS WITH CAESAR DYING IN POMPEY’S THEATRE AND SAYING “ET TU, BRUTE?” I MIGHT THROUGH THE BOOK OUT THE WINDOW. YES, SHAKESPEARE CERTAINLY MADE THOSE FINAL WORDS POPULAR, BUT THE ACCURACY BEHIND THEM IS MURKY AT BEST. AND EVERY BOOK WITH CAESAR’S ASSASSINATION HAS THAT PHRASE. WHY? HOW ABOUT THE OTHER DISPUTED ACCOUNT WHERE CAESAR SIMPLY COVERS HIS HEAD WITH HIS TOGA AND DIES. HOW ABOUT THAT?
News (since it has been a while)
I have procured an internship over the spring/summer semesters at the local historical society. Which if you’re unaware, is fantastic news.
Also, I have successfully planned out my final semester (fall, or autumn if you prefer) and will be 5 classes from graduating come August.
However, the bad news for both is, for me at least, the equivalent of persuading Charon to ferry me over Styx. I need to meet with new people to complete both the internship, and to register for my final few classes. I dread meeting with new people, not because I am unable to hold a conversation or the like, but I am seemingly a nervous wreck up to the moment of meeting. Luckily, I have already met with my advisor at the historical society, so the nerves will be lessened come May. Unluckily, I need to meet with two separate professors in the next two weeks to see if they will waive the prerequisites for the classes I need come fall.
Overall, it’s just a feeling of exciting nervousness.
It sucks when I go into the tag “Hannibal” because I see nothing but talk about cannibals and psychopaths when maybe I want to see some posts about the Carthaginian military leader that led over 50,000 soldiers in a journey across the Alps in order to fulfil an oath to his father to destroy Rome