Friday, October 24, 2014

Have denarii, will travel: time and cost of travel in Ancient Rome

The privilege of transporting readers to ancient worlds rests uniquely in the quill of the historical fiction writer. If readers can be immersed in the fictional world by escaping reality, the story comes alive for them. 

To create this engaging experience for readers, a writer of historical fiction spends considerable effort in research to create authentic settings as backdrops, then populates them with original characters who will spin interesting and devious plots, organic to their world. Although it is acceptable to take liberties with historical facts in favour of enriching the story (because story trumps everything), some details beg to be penned down accurately. This blogpost highlights the importance of determining time and cost of travel in Ancient Rome and how they affect characters and the plot.

How much time would it take to travel from Rome to Brindisi along via Appia by ox cart? How many denarii does it cost for a merchant to transport grain from Alexandria to Rome by ship? 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A lion, a man and a fugitive

The sketch depicts a scene from my upcoming novel based on Julius Caesar’s life (Rome, 1st century BC). Thanks to all my friends on fb who have given their interpretations about this scene. I really enjoyed your comments:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Julius Caesar, Neurosurgeon?

As a neurosurgeon and a self proclaimed expert on Julius Caesar, I feel it in my bones to write this new blog post about my favourite hero. I always feel that neurosurgeons have adopted many key qualities from Julius Caesar into our working lives. But there is still more to learn from that giant of a man. I present some glimpses from the life of Caesar and ask you whether he would make a skilled neurosurgeon. These are my views and I have stated Yay or Nay, for each quality. But feel free to disagree and add your comments. Any more comparisons are welcome, especially from writers, readers and fellow neurosurgeons, and in one case, anaesthetists.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Romans behaving badly

Corruption had reached an all time peak in ancient Rome. Julius Caesar, in keeping with the times, was a master of this sinister craft. He amassed great wealth, and then exhausted it just as quickly in paying bribes for getting elected to higher office. And this process was repeated, over and over again.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Julius Caesar: Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde?

Julius Caesar had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of personality.

While travelling to Rhodes by sea, his ship was attacked by pirates.  Even in captivity, Julius had the presence of mind to turn on his charm.  He maintained a cordial relationship with the pirates, who demanded a ransom for his release: twenty talents. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Julius Caesar's women

The great military and political leader of Rome was well know for his amorous trysts. The most famous ones are with Servilia, Brutus' mother and Cleopatra, queen of Egypt. Was Caesar married? Other than students of history, one may not know the answer. Even in his play - Julius Caesar, Shakespeare mentions only one wife. This post is dedicated to those lesser known women who faced the trials and tribulations of being married to the man called Julius Caesar.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pig's Head

What was the main occupation of Romans like Julius Caesar… you guessed it – WAR!

Ancient Roman army formations are legendary and still enthrall me beyond belief. The well known ones are the Pig’s head and testudo (the tortoise). This is what a Pig’s head looks like:

Pig's Head Formation

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The magic sticks

One day, a merchant whose house was burgled approached Birbal for advise. He suspected one of his servant to have stolen some jewels from his house. Birbal listened to the merchant’s appeal and decided to help him.