OMEN OF THE BIRDS by Harry Behn

OMEN OF THE BIRDS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The time is 500 B.C.; Rome is a collection of hovels; Greece has Aeschylus and a democracy that will eventually destroy it. The Etruscans are civilized, cultured people who live joyously but with the prophecy of extinction hanging over them. Into this setting, Behn has projected the story of Caele, later Tarquin, King of Rome. We meet Caele at sixteen, a thoughtful, studious youth who has a Greek father and an Etruscan mother. This mixed heritage precludes his ever becoming Prince or Tarquinia, and the prophecy that he will some day be King of Rome seems fantastic. Yet at the age of twenty, Caele is King, not of hovels, but of a city on its way to ruling the world. The story of how it came to be is told in a flowing, poetic prose. Behn misses nothing in his re-creation of the life of the vanished race. His treatment of Tarquin's youthful years is gentle and kind; his admiration for the king-to-be is offered without apologies for its conflict with Livy's, which Behn terms inaccurate. The book is for those very special readers who find pleasure in reading history written by an author more concerned with the essence of a period than in imagining sensational events which probably never occurred.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1964
Publisher: World