IMPLAUSIBLE HISTORICAL EVENTS—CLODIUS PULCHER. The New York Times reviewer acknowledges that Robert Harris stays close to the facts, but says that the reader will turn the pages “with an engagement limited by an occasional sense of silly overkill.” I think the silly overkill comes from the implausibility of the historical events. Fiction writers invent scandals for their characters, but I think the historical career of Clodius Pulcher would not be credible in fiction. Clodius is an important character in CONSPIRATA because he was an important political figure in the time of Julius Caesar and Cicero. Before that career began, when Clodius was about thirty, he profaned the rites of the Good Goddess. As this wikipedia article discusses, this was a very big deal: “This was a cult from which men were excluded, so completely that they were not permitted to know or even speak the goddess’s name, and hence used the euphemism ‘Good Goddess.'” Clodius was discovered at the rites dressed as a woman. The Vestal Virgins and the pontifices, at the request of the Senate, declared that this was sacrilege. The Vestal Virgins repeated the ritual. And Clodius went on to his political career despite the scandal. And despite his incest with his sister….

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