Saturday, May 16, 2015

CV of Julius Caesar: Part 2

Today’s historical story is the continuation of last week’s, titled ‘CV of Julius Caesar: Part 1’. If you haven’t read it, please click here.

With the scribe gone in search of the rogue donkey, Julius paced about the bank of the Rubicon. He was disgusted with the Senators. Jealous old men. Some of them can not even climb on to a horse, let alone lead legions into battle. And now the very same men who have neither tasted blood nor the glory of victory expect me to disband my legion. Oh, what would Jupiter have me do?

Much to his surprise his thoughts went to the donkey and its antics. It had not surrendered to the scribe, or to him. Instead it had rebelled against all attempts at oppression, eventually running away. Even a donkey values its freedom over slavery. And yet—

A bright spark lit up within Caesar—and yet, I allow myself to be enslaved by the Senate. A donkey braver than me? This can not be— Legio XIII will not be disbanded. I will not surrender to the Senate.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

CV of Julius Caesar: Part 1

Julius Caesar strode along the grassy river-bank, his mind churning like the muddy current of the Rubicon. Behind him marched his faithful scribe, followed by a ‘mildly moody’ donkey trotting at a rebellious pace. The donkey kept trying to break free, straining against its reins and struggling to throw off the bags tied on its back. The scribe kept readjusting those bags, fearing damage to his precious scrolls and tablets within. Caesar marched on, oblivious to the ruckus. 

When the two men and the donkey turned around a curve of the river, they walked headlong into gusting wind. Caesar braced his cloak and ducked  behind the trunk of a large oak. The scribe and the donkey followed.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Consulship of Julius and Caesar

Bibulus and his gang stomped through the Forum, pushed people aside, and dashed up the steps of the temple where Julius Caesar had been addressing a gathering. Bibulus stood with his back to Caesar and faced the crowd, fuming.

“Go home, you scum. This bill will never be passed,” he yelled.

There was a stunned silence.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Julius Caesar wept...

It was hot, even within the temple. Julius took off his sandals and revelled in the coolness of the marble floor. Finally. As his eyes adjusted to the dimly lit interior, statues adorning the hall began to take shape. 

“Where is it?” he said to his companion, a Centurion.

“Further ahead, to the right, Quaestor,” replied the Centurion, addressing Julius according to his rank.

“Take me to it,” said Julius.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Pirates of the Mediterranean

“You barbarous lot, you can never appreciate good poetry,” said Caesar, waving the parchment in the sea breeze. 

The men surrounding him guffawed at his reaction to their vulgar remarks. Disgusted, Caesar flung the parchment away. A brisk Mediterranean wind got hold of it, twirling it higher and higher, away from the group of seafaring men.

“It is not the poetry, but the Roman hand that wrote it,” said a small, sunburnt man, who appeared to be the leader. “The very hand that may soon part from its body if you keep up your impudent ways.”

This brought forth a new wave of raucous laughter. 


Thursday, March 12, 2015

When Caesar met Cleopatra

It had been a day of receiving gifts. Julius Caesar’s chamber was filled with gifts: cats made of jade, cats made of precious stones, cats made of semi-precious stones, and cats made of … just stones. 

“This is the most valuable gift that I have ever received, Minister,” said Caesar to the Egyptian minister, and bowed. The minister took the hint and left. 

Caesar looked at the minister’s gift with annoyance –– another cat, this one was made of purple tinted stone. The cat’s eyes, of which the minister had waxed eloquently, were crooked and made the stone animal look mentally unhinged. Those were the kindest thoughts which crossed Caesar’s mind, as he banged the purple cat on a table.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Historical novel blog tour marches to Ancient Rome

Welcome to the next stop in the historical novel blog tour — this time it is Rome in the 1st century B.C. Sincere thanks to Tiffani Burnett-Velez, author of A Berlin Story, for organizing this tour. Each week the blog tour travels to a different era and is a great way of meeting historical fiction authors and learning about their work.

Who you are, where you’re from, your writing credits?
My interest in historical fiction began as a boarding school student in the Indian Himalayas while reading The Three Musketeers and Julius Caesar. For many years thereafter, historical novels and movies kept me enthralled. However, as a medical student, my literary activities took a back seat, although the seed for my fascination with historical fiction was already implanted. Years later, while training to become a neurosurgeon, that seed started to sprout. I was moved to write a scene about a plebeian travelling to Rome on the brink of war. There was no turning back thereafter. From that scene grew a thread of a tale, and that into a full-fledged story, which will be my debut novel based on Ancient Rome in the 1st century B.C. 

My adorable dog, named Puppy, shows his solidarity by sitting and sleeping close to me when I write this novel. I had adopted him 16 years ago when he was a stray puppy. Puppy is my greatest victory.

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?