Lustrum - Robert Harris Print

This review first appeared in The Sunday Age - 10 January 2010.

The great Roman orator and politician Cicero had a biography written, which duly vanished in the mists of time. Now Harris provides a modern equivalent, in the form of a series of novels.  They are narrated by Cicero's actual biographer, his secretary and slave Tiro (inventor of the ampersand). The incidents described actually occurred, and they are extraordinary. As Rome changed from Republic to Empire, various powerful men fought for spuremacy.  They include General Pompey, Cicero and the eventual winner, Julius Caesar. The stakes were high, and so was the body count. Modern politicians lose their seats, but the unlucky Roman senators faced forced suicide, or even crucifixion. Harris, while sticking to the script of recorded events, writes a live-in, convincing historical that doubles as a political thriller. He even teases with an opening that sets up the reader for yet another historical mystery, then shifts easily into Roman politics.  Not least of the novel's achievements is the recreation of Cicero, a man shown here to be a superb political operator, but with a humane side. Cover of Robert Harris' novel Lustrum
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 February 2010 22:29