Happy Holidays everyone! Whatever your religious practices (or not), I hope this will be a wonderful time of the year
for you and yours. It was during this period, starting December 17th. that the ancient Romans celebrated the festival known
as the Saturnalia, the forerunner of Christmas. The early Christian church adapted many aspects of this holiday in order to
entice the Romans into becoming Christians. More about Saturnalia below.
Northtown B&N returning reader,
Valley B&N returning reader, Amanda
Once again, my book signing
events, at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, continue to be successful. I met many interesting people from all over the
Northwest, California, the East Coast and from British Columbia and Alberta Canada. I also met people from as far away as:
England, Hong Kong, Iran and Scotland.
So far I have made arrangements, to conduct book signing events,
at five Barnes & Noble stores for Spring, 2020. At the request of management, more will be arranged at other B&N outlets
after the first of the year. I plan to return to Yoke's Fresh Market, Liberty Lake, Washington, as well. I will be looking
for other venues, for book signings, to replace: 2nd Look Books, EntertainMART and Liberty Lake Chevron. Unfortunately, these
stores were no longer cost-effective to conduct signings.
The Emperor's Hand (A Work in Progress)
Roman Britain Romanization Map
I am slowly, but surely, steadily writing (with lots of re-writing)
the sixth historical novel in The Britannia Romanus series, Emperor's Hand. The process has been slow because I am in the
process of developing the personalities of each character in the story. They must speak in their own voice and vernacular.
This takes time, at least for me. Characterization has always been one of my weaknesses in developing my stories. My research
of the flora and fauna of Roman Britain continues as I attempt to make this story sound as authentic as possible. I thought
about taking a trip to the U.K., southern England in particular, late Spring, 2020. Unfortunately, the more I looked into
the matter, the more I realized it was not practical at this time. I could have probably handled it financially, but since
I am taking a trip, September, 2020, with my son, Chris, to the East Coast and will be gone about eight days, there is no
way my wife, would have tolerated me being gone again for another, probably even longer time. As I grow older (I am currently
77) the chances of taking a trip to England may shrink. Although I am in excellent health, I am at an age that anything could
happen. We shall see.
Several months back, I read an excellent biography titled: "Marcus Agrippa - 'Right Hand Man' of
Caesar Augustus" by Lindsay Powell, published by Pen & Sword Military. This is the first major book published
about Agrippa in more than fifty years. The volume is well-written, researched an very readable. Only a few months older than
Augustus, and one of his closest friends, Agrippa was one of the unsung heroes of the early empire, who made it possible for
Augustus to seize power and become the First Citizen of Rome and unofficially its first emperor. The book is a must read and
should be in the library of scholars and amateur historians alike. It is in mine!
part is a summary, published inside the dust jacket of the book: "Marcus Agrippa personified the term, 'right-handed
man'". As Emperor Augustus deputy, he waged wars, pacified provinces, beautified Rome, and played a crucial role
in laying the foundations of the Pax Romana for the next two hundred years−but he served always in the knowledge he would never rule in his own name . . . Marcus Agrippa
is lucidly written by the author of the acclaimed biographies, Eager for Glory and Germanicus. Using the latest research,
Lindsay Powell presents a new and penetrating assessment of the life and achievements of the multifaceted man who put service
to friend and country before himself."
A Capsule Biography of
the Emperor Nero by Steven Cockings
"Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus" (15 December
37 AD – 9 June 68 AD) was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted
by his grand-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death.
Nero focused much of his attention on diplomacy, trade and enhancing the cultural life of the Empire, but
according to the historian Tacitus he was viewed by the Roman people as compulsive and corrupt. He ordered theatres built
and promoted athletic games. During his reign, the redoubtable general Corbulo conducted a successful war and negotiated peace
with the Parthian Empire. His general Suetonius Paulinus crushed a revolt in Britain. Nero annexed the Bosporan Kingdom to
the Empire and began the First Jewish–Roman War.
64 AD, most of Rome was destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome, which many Romans believed Nero himself had started in order
to clear land for his planned palatial complex, the Domus Aurea.
In 68, the rebellion of Vindex in Gaul and
later the acclamation of Galba in Hispania drove Nero from the throne. Facing a false report of being denounced as a public
enemy who was to be executed, he committed suicide on 9 June 68 (the first Roman emperor to do so). His death ended the Julio-Claudian
Dynasty, sparking a brief period of civil wars known as the Year of the Four Emperors.
Nero's rule is often associated
with tyranny and extravagance. He is known for many executions, including that of his mother,and the probable murder by poison
of his stepbrother Britannicus.
Nero was rumored to have had captured Christians dipped in oil and set on fire
in his garden at night as a source of light. This view is based on the writings of Tacitus, Suetonius and Cassius Dio, the
main surviving sources for Nero's reign, but a few surviving sources paint Nero in a more favorable light.
sources, including some mentioned above, portray him as an emperor who was popular with the common Roman people, especially
in the East. Indeed, his name was still able to command much loyalty and respect as during the Flavian period at least two
"false Neros" were reported in the East, trying to rally support to reclaim the empire. Thus, some modern historians
question the reliability of ancient sources when reporting on Nero's tyrannical acts."
The following is an excerpt from the Encyclopedia of Roman Empire by Matthew Bunson:
"The Festival in honor of Saturnus held originally on December 17 of each year. Of the many holidays on the Roman
calendar, Saturnalia was certainly the happiest. This was probably due to the adoption of so many Greek characteristics in
the Roman pantheon just as Saturnus was heavily influenced by the Greek god Kronos so was the Saturnalia transformed by the
merry day of Kronia. When the Saturnalia originated is unclear except that it was very old. Chief characteristics of the holiday
were a temporary abolition of social standing so that slaves were given the day off, gambling was allowed, gifts were exchanged
with family and friends, and a Saturnalia Princeps (a leading man of the Saturnalia or a "Lord of Misrule") was
elected. Clearly, the Saturnalia had its own effect upon the celebration of the Christian Christmas and New Year."
Again, from my house to yours, my wife, Liz, and I wish you the happiest of holidays wherever you
Until next time, Salve Atque
Vale! Hail and Farewell!