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A master’s take on Ancient Rome

30 November 2015

‘I wouldn't have gone back to the period, if I hadn't felt it had something to say to us. You have a double benefit (when you write a historical novel): you re-create that world for the reader, yet at the same time it's a commentary on our own time: whatever you select to write is inevitably trying to hold up a mirror to our own age, whether consciously or unconsciously. I do feel there are certain laws of politics that have held good for millennia: everything ends in failure; the very qualities that bring you to the top bring you down; and the electorate are fickle and will turn on you...

(The Romans) lived on the edge without conscience. You could conquer the world, raise armies, ford rivers. It's staggering really.'

Robert Harris, author of Dictator, Pompeii and many other historical novels, in the Bookseller