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Render Unto Caesar [Paperback]

Gillian Bradshaw
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 15 2004
Hermogenes is a young Greek from Alexandria, heir to a noble and vibrant society. But in his youth Hermogenes and his family were held captive to the whims of the queen Cleopatra, whose machinations spelled doom for an entire nation--whose schemes for empire caused the might of Rome to conquer his people. While the citizens of Rome may ape Hellenic ways, the Alexandrian Greeks are viewed as less than human because they are not of Rome.

But a man may win the coveted citizenship in more ways than birth on Roman soil. When Hermogenes father is granted such a boon, it appears as if his family has found favor from the gods--except then a business deal goes sour and Hermogenes father dies at sea. It is left to Hermogenes to reclaim all monies owed to the family... including a debt from a very well connected Roman consul who has reneged on his obligations and refuses to deal with "Greek trash."

Hermogenes will travel to Rome to reclaim what he is owed and finds it is no simple matter. Along the way, he will encounter base desire and power struggles, plots within plots... and a beautiful woman gladiator who is more than she seems. His life is in danger, and ultimately Hermogenes is left with the question:

Can the conferring of a title make one truly Roman? And if not, how far will a man go to satisfy honor?

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this fine historical thriller set in Rome in 16 B.C., Hermogenes, a well-to-do Greek trader from Alexandria, travels to the capital city to collect a debt owed to him by a powerful Roman consul, Tarius Rufus. When Hermogenes attempts to dun the general, Rufus physically attacks him, then seeks to worm out of his obligations through legal loopholes. Hermogenes will not relent; his uncle was ruined and his father met his death as a result of the debt, and Hermogenes has come seeking justice. When Rufus sends goons to waylay Hermogenes, the trader is rescued by Cantabra, a former female gladiator (in an author's note, Bradshaw informs us there were, indeed, women fighters in the arena during this era). Cantabra becomes Hermogenes's bodyguard. Hermogenes next tries to sell the debt to the duplicitous Pollio, Rufus's principle creditor. While at Pollio's compound, Hermogenes overhears a plot between Pollio and Consul Rufus to assassinate Titus Statilius Taurus, the Prefect of Rome, to incite riots, and then to quell them-all as a way of gaining favor with Caesar. Cantabra knows Taurus from her gladiator days, and she and Hermogenes manage to convince the prefect that Pollio and Rufus are in cahoots against him. Bradshaw's Rome is superbly rendered, with all the sights, sounds and-particularly-the smells of the period. Unfortunately, her Greek trader is a bit of an anachronism whose perpetual concern for the well-being of every slave he owns or meets seems more akin to modern liberal compassion than to the attitude a man of the period might possess. Nevertheless, Bradshaw has produced a solid evocation of fascinating and dangerous times.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Bradshaw's characters are masterfully drawn."

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Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for fans of the Roman era Dec 14 2003
As a huge fan of any good book about Romans (especially Colleen McCullough's series) I eagerly snatched this one up and I wasn't disappointed. Although not grand in scale like many works set in Rome at its heyday, it is exceptionally faithful to the historical accuracy of the time (16 bc) and to the leading figures who interact with the main character, a fictional Alexandrian businessman from Egypt. The author is a gifted storyteller who immediately immerses you into Rome and the plight of this proud and honest "Greekling" who gets himself caught up in high-power Roman consular plots and intrigue. The author also does an excellent job of peering into the hearts of her characters, and deftly weaves the appropriate amount of loves lost and found into the plot, not to mention the ubiquitous greed and pride that goes with any Roman story. Believable and interesting from start to finish, it is very well written.
And my measure of a books success - I had great difficulty putting it down until I was done! Highly recommended for fans of the Roman era and lovers of a well-told story.
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By A Customer
This was a very good book for historical fiction fans.
Hermogenes, a Romanized Greek banker from Alexandria, travels to Rome to collect a debt that he inherited from a relative. He has no reason to believe that everything won't go according to law. After all, the man who owes him is very wealthy. Why would he miss such a paltry sum? Unfortunately, the debtor, now a powerful consul, sees no reason that a "true" Roman should pay the likes of a Greek. This sets off a wild ride for Hermogenes as he runs a round Rome just a step ahead of his enemies trying to collect his money and go hom in one piece.
The best part of the book is the setting. Like many ancient history fiction books, the plot need not as important as the scenery. There is plenty of historical "eye candy." Ancient Rome really comes alive -- the government buildings, prisons, centurions, city walls and gates, and even the different types of housing, both tenements and high-class villas.
This isn't to say that the plot suffers -- it is very good, too. All the characters play their parts well -- the golden=hearted Hermogenes, the loyal Maerica, the merchant Crispus, the fair but tough Taurus, and the properly rotten Pollio and Rufus.
With both the Emperor and his right-hand man, Agrippa, absent from Rome, we get to see the rest of Rome -- its consuls, prefects, and businessmen. The plot begins quite simply, but even when events go crazy, I still understood them. There are not too many characters, and they are well-developed. I especially liked the scenes in Crispus' house, describing the people who work there.
I admit that the story is very pat with a "happily ever after" ending. Also, Hermogenes is often too good to be true. Then again, everyone keeps calling him a "strange man."
All in all, this is a very good book -- a good view of the ancient world and a good story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bradshaw's best effort in years . . . Sept. 7 2003
Gillian Bradshaw's newest, "Render unto Caesar," came yesterday and I just finished it - it's that good. I'm a fan of all of her books and admire her ability to create three-dimensional characters set in ancient Rome, Athens, Alexandria, or Britannia, but I think this book is at the very top of her form.
Set in the mid-period of Augustus' reign, Hermogenes, a young Greek merchant from Alexandria who has "purchased" and very proud of his new Roman citizenship, comes to Rome to settle the problem of a debt, inherited from his uncle, from a wealthy Roman who, it turns out, is now Consul of Rome Hermogenes thinks, as a respectable Roman citizen, he can politely demand payment under Roman law and all will be well. What happens, however, when he asks the powerful Lucius Tarius Rufus for his 450,000 sesterci debt, sets a plot in motion that is as enticing as any thriller while full thought-provoking historical questions that will intrigue and puzzle. Bradshaw's book is centered in a very real sense of just what real life might have felt like in ancient Rome, from what a wealthy man ate at a dinner party to the refuse and fleas of a fourth-rate insula room for rent. Hermogenes is a fascinating and ultimately admirable character, deeply committed to the idea of Roman justice, proud of his citizenship - yet a Greek from Alexandria in the generation just after Actium and Cleopatra when Greeks were despised as effete and Egyptians as subhuman. His adventures and dangers in Rome feel satisfyingly three-dimensional, without any of that unfortunate trend towards setting a "2003 plot in a toga" that mar some Roman efforts. Bradshaw's scholarship is impressive, and invisible.
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1.0 out of 5 stars simplistic and not realistic Oct. 12 2003
By A Customer
This is not a very good book- it's written as though it's intended for a sixth grade audience- one which knows nothing about Imperial Rome. The protagonist behaves in an unbelievable way- NO Roman citizen of the period would spend even a fraction of the time that this guy does worrying about the slaves and their treatment. And a Roman consul who physically attacks a citizen- unbelievable. Then there is the woman who rescues our hero, the female gladitator! Don't waste your time. The mysteries of Steve Saylor and Lindsey Davis portray a much more accurate picture of ancient Rome and it's citizens.
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