Stephen Fry Shows Off His New "Fiance"
I read this really good fictional book when I was younger, I can't remember the name of it.
It is about the son of a former Roman General who has been raised outside of the capitol who is called by special envoy to Rome after his father dies. He has grown up in isolation on a farm and his father has told him of the great majesty of Rome and how important it is to be loyal and patriotic to your country.
Before he begins his trip he is approached by a band of mercenaries who want to use his name to help them recruit from the Visigoths to form a war party to sack Rome to get back the wages they are owed from campaigns they fought in and were not paid because the treasury had gone bankrupt.
The book is about how as he gets closer and closer to Rome he realises just how degenerate and decadent it has become. The city is a terrible squalor of orgies and feasts when he arrives, people sleep in the streets like pigs and rise to go to the coliseum to eat and watch Christians thrown to the lions. The infrastructure is falling apart, clean drinking water can only be had from rainfalls and the sewage system has been hopelessly clogged for years.
There is this chapter where he reads about how all the ageing Senators parade off the boys they have purchased this year from the slave blocks and make them march around naked all the time in their homes. The protagonist meets one of them after he had gotten too old and is told how the Senator threw him out after he began to mature. This kid tells him how the real slave trade is in pederasty and every time the Romans conquer a province they ship half the children back to Rome to please the perverts there. He explains when the supply of fresh children runs short, powerful people pay some agents to stage a false flag to create a provocation so the Senators have an excuse to declare war on it and then steal the children from it. He claims this was the real reason they destroyed Carthage.
I don't know how much of this was true, as I said it was a fictional story. It sounded like the author knew what he was talking about.
This book reminded me strongly of Fellini's Satyricon.
At the end of it, the hero has grown so disgusted he leaves the city and heads north to find the mercenaries, intending to lead the sacking and pillaging of Rome when they come back with the barbarians from up north.
I had this book for years and finally sold it or gave it away and I can't remember the title of it. Bad or good, true or false, it affected me greatly before I knew more hard history about Rome but it always sounded like it had the ring of truth to me.