Robert Harris Discusses Why he Wanted to Write the Cicero Trilogy

Robert Harris Discusses Why he Wanted to Write the Cicero Trilogy

Robert Harris Discusses Why he Wanted to Write the Cicero Trilogy Transcript

When I’d finished Pompeii – a book I never expected to write – I found the Roman world so fascinating that I decided that I wanted to set another book in Ancient Rome. And I had the idea of writing about Roman politics. I was a political journalist, I knew a lot of politicians, I always wanted to write a big political novel. But I’d been put off because I didn’t think I could invent characters who were more bizarre and strange than the people who were in power. And therefore I let it lie.

But then reading about Pompeii and Cicero and Cato and Caesar and Crassus and Clodius and the other characters and people in this trilogy of novels, made me think ‘perhaps I could write a novel about politics that was universal’. It would mean as much to someone in Germany, or Italy, or England, or America or anywhere in the world.

Because the certain laws of politics are universal, and the Romans established much of our language and much of what we think about politics. And I asked myself ‘What was the Roman political structure like? How did the elections function? How did you campaign for elections? How did you speak in the senate to 600 noisy guys? How did you speak in the forum to thousands of people without any amplification? How did the law courts work?’ And I spent two years researching, doing nothing but really research how Roman politics operated in the last 25 years of the Republic.

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