This is a tale of the human heart in Ancient Rome.
It is about a RAGE that must be kept caged until the moment comes to release it. It is also about the woman who must sit by and watch it happen.
Amid political machinations, the story focuses on two characters. The first is Titus. An educated man and former Chief Magistrate to the Lombard King, he has been banished and has sought refuge in Rome where he finds himself reduced to baking clay and lime in furnaces. Only camaraderie with the lowest commoners softens his loss of all he had and loved.
Unknown to him the powerful are vying for position one against the other with Titus central to their schemes. One of those factions lifts him out of the brick factory and appoints him to a minor office.
A letter from Titus’s wife in distant Verona finds its way to him. In it she confesses to being raped and names her defiler: the King’s Master of Horse. Titus’s heart explodes with RAGE.
The other focus of the story is Adria. Unmarried, she is a middle-aged woman who teaches flute to support herself. She had first spied Titus when, at the close of the workday, he would sit in the Ad Elephantos district and read aloud to the assembled workmen and their children. When the plague struck him, she nursed him back to health and back to the brick factory. On his appointment to the Aedileship, she stayed with him as chaste companion and helpmate.
When word arrives that the Lombard forces were amassing for a siege of the city, rustics stream into its walls for safety. Providing for them falls to Titus. A senator with Germanic connections orders Titus to use his popularity with the people to get them to clamor for letting the King enter the city. On the opposite side, the Pope—loyal to the Emperor—appoints him Consul and charges him with a spirited defense.
Titus sees detriment to the people in both of those courses. He discards them. As Consul with Plenary Powers he pursues his own course: “We’ll wait out the siege within the walls.” He knows his decision will jeopardize his life once the immediate crisis has passed.
The siege befalls. In a meeting to negotiate a truce, Titus’s two personal adversaries face him: First there is the King who had stripped all that he loved from him. And then there is the King’s Master of Horse who—in Titus’s absence—had defiled his wife, his Little Flower. It was the moment for RAGE. Adria was there—Adria who loved him—Adria looking on with dread.
In this novel Vann Turner continues his poignant exploration of the human heart, how closely we bind, how the world seeks to sever, and how we all need the courage to defend what is most dear.
Table of Contents
Author’s Preface facing page
Maps (3) following pages
To Abandon Rome 1
Translation of the Latin Headings 324
About Vann Turner 328
A Personal Word to my Audience 328
The Cover 329