August 16, 2010

Roman Religion and Success

The quality of Roman culture changed dramatically over the many centuries of its growth and decline.

Growth was associated with (and arguably caused by) representative and elected government; a sense of probity, honor and self-sacrifice; and tolerant syncretist polytheism.

Decline was associated with (and arguably caused by) dictatorial monarchy; greed, corruption and dissolute behavior; and intolerant monotheism.

If historians tease these aspects apart, their books may be useful. However, many pick and choose qualities from different centuries in order to reinforce their own biases, saying for example that Rome's greatness was caused by its culture of self-sacrifice and its adoption of Christianity. But the former trait was part of Rome's Republican culture of growth, while the latter event occurred several hundred years later, and was part of the Imperial decline.

If historians pick and choose whatever qualities they want from among many pairs of opposites that were culturally prevalent in different centuries, unaware of the timescale they are working with and the cultural shifts that happened, they should shift their title from "historian" to "story-teller".

April 30, 2010

The Gospel According to the Romans - ABNA 2010

The Gospel According to the Romans is in this year's ABNA, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, and has now reached the Semifinals on the strength of a review by Publisher's Weekly and others.

The novel will now be read, assessed and reviewed by Penguin... we'll find out what they think at the end of May.

In the meantime, Amazon is offering a free download here.

Please leave a comment there, or here, or on its Facebook page.