FIG IN WINTER by Willa Gibbs


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Subtitled A Novel of Marcus Aurelius and the Christian Faith, this new biographical novel by a competent historian traces the extraordinary story of the philosopher-saint who was co-emperor in an era in Rome when the succession was determined democratically. But that the election endowed the ruled with divine powers and inalienable rights that were far from democratic is evidenced in every page of the story of Julian, son of Quintus. By birth a patrician, an exile in Greece through an act of his grandfather, he was condemned on his return to Rome to successive disasters culminating in his sale as a slave assigned to the court. Revelation, and then conversion, to the new and dangerous faith of a Christian came during his torture, and made his role in court a perilous one, filled with internal conflicts. For Marcus Aurelius condemned Christianity, protected Julian only because of his love for him, but repeatedly forced him into choosing between two loyalties. The major part of the record of Marcus Aurelius' reign provides a factual tone to this fictional record; the emperor is more vital than the hero, Julian. And the panorama of Rome, approaching the end of her greatness, is a dramatic though often horrifying backdrop. Worth reading for the portrait of a great man in history.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1963
Publisher: Morrow