My new book, Sempronia the Sister of the Gracchi is Now Available on Amazon

My second book, Sempronia, the Sister of the Gracchi, has just been published by Create Space. This is a  short work which tells the story of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, Roman reformers of the second century B.C., through the eyes of their sister Sempronia.

Sempronia is described by ancient historians as “unlovely, unloving, and unloved.”  She was the eldest surviving child of Cornelia Minor, the daughter of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, and her husband Tiberius Gracchus. Sempronia’s brother Tiberius was probably about a year younger than her, and Gaius was about ten years younger.

Sempronia was married at about age seventeen to Publius Cornelius Sciipio Aemilianus, the adopted son of her uncle.  It would be an understatement to say that the marriage was troubled.  Scipio Aemilianus staunchly opposed Tiberius’ land reforms and openly stated that Tiberius was “justly murdered.”

Here is a brief sample from the book:

There seemed to be an eery quietness about my mother’s neighborhood. I realized that this was an election day and that commerce was suspended. All the men in the neighborhood had gone to the forum to vote. In the kitchen the cooks were already preparing food. We all assumed that Tiberius would win the election and that we would celebrate that night with a feast.

 

Suddenly, in the late afternoon a lone figure came limping into the Atrium His clothing was bloody and torn and he was covered with bruises, abrasions and lacerations. Blood seeped from several wounds on his body. It took me a few moments to recognize the man. Blossius!

He fell upon his knees before Mama and tears streamed down his cheeks. He just knelt there, weeping, unable to utter a word. At this moment, Blossius, the renowned Stoic philosopher appeared to be anything but stoic!

 

Mama said, “Blossius, Blossius. Tell us what has happened!”

 

“Tiberius. . . Tiberius is slain!” Cried Blossius at last. “The mob from the Senate, led by Nasica attacked us. Publius Satyreius struck the first blow, and then Lucius Rufus the second and then others until Tiberius was felled. They took his body and dumped it into the Tiber. You will never recover it. Hundreds are dead. They fell upon me but Diophanes tore them off of me and allowed me to escape. I fear that he is dead as well! The forum is soaked with the blood of Tiberius Gracchus and hundreds of his followers!

 

Claudia began to sob and the maid servants, all of whom had adored Tiberius, began to keen. The children, sensing something was terribly wrong, began to wail. I, myself, fell to weeping and keening. It was Mama, who had already lost nine children and her husband and was much practiced at mourning, who was the Stoic.

 

“Silence!” she ordered. “There will be time for mourning. We must honor Tiberius with more dignity than this! There are things we must do right now. Take Blossius to his room and make him comfortable. Send for the physician to attend him. We must prepare the house for mourning and we must send word to Gaius to come home from Spain.”

 

 

Mother’s admonishions brought me to my senses. I took Blossius by the hand and led him to his room. I bade him to lie upon his couch and brought him some bread and wine. “It was my fault, Sempronia,” He said. “The omens were all bad. The sacred chickens wouldn’t come out of their cage, and when one was persuaded to come out it wouldn’t feed. Tiberius told me that snakes had nested in his helmet. On the way to the forum he stubbed his toe so badly that it bled. And then there were two ravens fighting and one of them dislodged a stone from a roof and it fell at Tiberius’ feet. Neverthless I told him to go on and not to be daunted by superstition. I told him that if he failed to come to the forum due to these ill omens he would be ridiculed by his enemies and they would decry him to the people as one who was giving himself the airs of a tyrant.”

 

“Nonsense, Blossius!” I said. “It wasn’t your fault. When a man makes as many powerful enemies as Tiberius has, his days are numbered. Even if he had not gone to the forum today, he was a doomed man. Look to your philosophy, Blossius, and don’t let your mind be overcome by superstition!”

 

“Ah, Sempronia.” sighed Blossius. “You should have been a man. What a magnificent man you would have made!”

Sempronia The Sister of the Gracchi is available on Amazon.

 

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