Betrayal of a Republic

Betrayal of a Republic is a rare novel based on historical facts, recounting the demise of the Roman Republic through the eyes and reflections of Cornelia Africana, mother of the Gracchi brothers and a woman at the zenith of power and influence in the Republic.

The novel is set in the 1st century BCE. At its peak as the sole superpower in the Mediterranean, the Republic of Rome is gripped by an internal crisis, generated by the breakdown of Senate leadership. For the elite, the Republic has become a means for self-enrichment. Land grab, financial scandals, corruption, intrigues and electoral fraud plunge the Republic into a constitutional crisis. The Gracchi brothers try to save the Republic as a union of free men by reclaiming public land for the veterans and restoring the rule of law through an extensive legislative program.

In her final years, an aging Cornelia looks back on her life and that of her sons who tried to save the Republic. The novel was praised for giving the readers a good insight into the secret life of women who were politically active behind-the-scenes. Cornelia's memories carry observations about particular events and struggles taking hold of Roman society. They describe a successful women's revolt in 195 BC, with mass sit-downs at the Forum that resulted in greater social freedoms. The reader gets a rich and rare look at the rise of one of the Republic's most politically influential women and the forces that helped to shape her extraordinary life. The story is even more compelling for the parallels it offers with the current superpower politics, the rise of strongmen, financial scandals, the shrinking of the middle class and questions about the future of our democracy.

The novel was published in the Netherlands in December 2011. Review in the Journal of Historical Novel Society (of the Dutch novel): See also:


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