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SPQR IV: The Temple of the Muses

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  • Posted March 12, 2010

    Decius Caecilius Metellus, an official in training in the last years of the Roman Republic, honors the Muses by solving a murder committed in the Museum at Alexandria.

    How would a Roman in the seventh century after the founding of the city (Rome)--i.e., the first century BC--solve a murderer in Alexandria, Egypt? John Maddox Roberts tries to present the world as Decius would see it, not as it would be judged by a twenty-first century American. Decius accepts the slavery, the games, and the violence of his surroundings, whether in Rome or, as in this book, in Alexandria. However, he draws the line at certain things. Having been introduced to the nine Muses in their beautiful temple, he cannot fail to interest himself when a philosopher is murdered in their precincts, the Museum. He asks King Ptolemy Auletes to permit him to investigate. "Every man should have a hobby," Ptolemy says and authorizes him to do so, to the disgust of the court officials. He sets forth on his task with the aid of his slave Hermes and of his fiancee Julia, Julius Caesar's niece, at least until he wakes up to find the body of a beautiful woman in next to him in bed...

    This whole series presents an excellent and seemingly realistic picture of Rome about the time of the fall of the Republic. If only it were not for the sexual content, much reduced in this book in comparison with earlier books in the series, I would recommend this book and the whole series to my Latin students whole-heartedly. As it is, I recommend this book and its followers, but not its predecessors, to anyone in the higher grades of highschool, and the whole series to mature adults.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 15, 2010

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    Posted March 6, 2011

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