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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Monday, November 14, 2005

still thinking, still learning

Felt heavy and groggy in bed this morning when the alarm went off, distantly perceived through my earplugs, at 5:30. Heavy eyelids. I lay there awhile as Kimmie launched herself up, switched on the radio, and bustled through her morning routine. I vaguely tried to identify the song I heard playing, muffled by the earplugs. What the heck was that? (Had to unplug them to find out: "Devil Inside" by INXS.)

Eventually it occurred to me that my greater than usual morning fatigue might be the first sign of an impending cold: that is usually my first sign, if I'm alert. I started taking echinacea.

I worked on notes first thing over coffee. Today I focused on keying notes I highlighted last night in Peoples, Nations and Cultures about ancient Italian tribes. I was wanting to zero in more on the character Marcus, whom I have decided to make Italian rather than Roman. I keyed notes about the Aequi, the Bruttians, the Lucanians, the Sabelli. I knew that these were among the first peoples conquered by Rome (the first being the Etruscans to the north) in its steady expansion from being an ordinary market town in central Italy. I also knew that they provided recurrent problems and rebellion. The relationship was complex.

The struggle culminated in the so-called Social War of 91-87 BC, when some tribes tried to cast off the Roman yoke through armed struggle. The conflict was finally resolved by Rome's decision to grant the Italians full Roman citizenship, instead of maintaining a relationship of unequal "allies". With this decision, the unprecedented process of the extending citizenship from the landowners of a single city to all freeborn men of a large territory, embracing many cities, was begun. Previously people had been subjects of monarchs in empires; now they would be (theoretically) voting members of a republic. Admittedly the republic would not last much longer, but this idea, of equal, participating citizenship in a geographically extended polity, was one of the bases of the modern nation-state.

It's important for me that Marcus have a complex relationship with his Romanness. The Social War occurred while he was a boy; his father would have been made a Roman citizen as a result, and Marcus's own Roman citizenship would have followed even if he had not joined the army (where citizenship was one of the rewards of service). The relationship between Rome and the tribes was always at least partly antagonistic--probably is to this day.

Still thinking, still learning.

I have felt tired today, even though there has been sunshine in a brilliant clear sky. I walked among the dark shadows and fallen leaves, stopped to note the progress of the apartment-demolition at 6th and Chesterfield. I'm being gentle with myself.

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  • That's an intersting thing to make Marcus an Italian - lot more fun than a Roman who takes some much for given that excluded other tribes. He might come to a better understanding of people outside Italy for it as well.

    By Blogger Gabriele C., at November 16, 2005 8:02 AM  

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