Remember how on Tuesday I said that we never get to have Augustus’ voice tell us anything in the novel? Well, guess what Part III of the book is? That’s right, it’s Augustus Caesar’s final letter, written to his friend Nicolaus of Damascus, as he sails to Capri and then Benevento. He travels to Capri to watch a youth gymnastics competition, where he is to be the guest of honor, and he travels on to Benevento because his wife is making him go as a show of support for his stepson Tiberius, who is to succeed him as Emperor of Rome. In this letter he reflects on his life and the events we’ve learned about via everyone else. What surprised me about this section was how well it seems that his close friends, advisors, and family actually did know him, because nothing much that he says comes as a surprise. It seems that this supreme being actually was just like everyone thought he was. And isn’t that a nice surprise in this day and age?
I definitely enjoyed Augustus, even though the first thirty to fifty pages were a little tough as I got acquainted with all of the characters, and got used to their long, long names. I think that if you can get past the names and the epistolary format (which actually didn’t bother me at all, but I know some people don’t like it much), this book is really quite good, and presents ancient Rome in a much more approachable manner than I’ve read before (i.e. The Aeneid and its ilk).
I am not going to say much else, because it’s late here in Florida, but I’m leaving tomorrow, and in the next twelve hours I have to pack and figure out how to fit all the stuff I’ve acquired over the past week into my suitcase. The good news is that it wasn’t full when I left California, so I should be fine, but there is the matter of the Minnie Mouse pillow pet that I got from Care Credit to take into account. At least it’s pretty compressible. Those giant proceedings, though…. They might be a problem. At least the hotel gift shop has suitcases!
Should I be a jerk? (Sure.) The Iliad is from ancient Greece. Safe travels tomorrow!
Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome…. They may be separated by a few hundred years (don’t correct me on the timing), but it’s still a long time ago and I doubt the writings of Ovid and Virgil are more intelligible than those of Homer.