This Spanish author's research of First Century Roman regimes has taken an original if exhausting turn in this interminable historical novel. Prot-agonizing throughout is one Benasur, a Jew, an a priori whiz at trade and Roman bulls and bears. For persuading the pirate Skamin to surrender to Rome, Benasur is heaped with imperial honors. However, Benasur secretly hates Rome since boyhood when his mother was raped by a centurion, and he plans organized resistance to the Empire. For this purpose, Benasur roams far and wide, parlaying, speculating, and dealing. (There is wheeling too, as Benasur sets up a ""car"" factory.) Whirling along with Benasur is Miletus, former Greek slave, who continually lectures Benasur on his lack of concern for the human condition; a slave girl who becomes the unloved mother of his child; Rachel whose sterility forbids marriage. It will come as no news to the reader that Benasur had a hand in Judas' betrayal since he was in on just about everything. (""It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see you backing the Nazarene,"" insists Rachel.) Benasur is converted, presumably by some divine bargaining session we are not allowed to see. A togafull of tedium.