THE SWORD OF PLEASURE by Peter Green

THE SWORD OF PLEASURE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The success of Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs and Mary Renault's The Last of the Wine is no warrant for counting on similar reception for this volume, purporting to be the memoirs of Lucius Sulla, successful General, Consul and Dictator of Rome (138-78 BC). Actually it reads like an apologia and not a very convincing one at that. Emotionally as well as physically marked throughout his life by the disfiguring birthmark on his face, Sulla's whole career seemed to be an attempt to attain recognition and acceptance and power, in spite of his ""scar"". His successive marriages were primarily undertaken to this end, and divorce resorted to when it seemed expedient to acquire new contacts, new securities. As an officer under Marius he absorbed the brutalities of that peasant general, and wiped any vestige of loyalty aside when it seemed propitious. His friends and associates became his stepping stones. And when he was exiled and proscribed, he justified his bloody reprisals against Rome itself, as an effort to rescue his native city from the clutch of the selfish patricians. That he has gone down in history as a bloody tyrant -- that Pompey had his justification in turning against him - all this is nullified in the slant the memoirs give of his own role as saviour of Rome. Too much of this segment of ancient history is unfamiliar to the average reader, the handling is too analytical and self-exploratory, for the book to capture the verve, the passions and the pace of the times. Frankly, I found it pretty dull reading.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1958
Publisher: World