Friday, June 01, 2012

Bookish Quotes: Poseidon's Gold by Lindsey Davis

Today my bookish scrollish quote comes from Poseidon's Gold by Lindsey Davis, the fifth book in the Marcus Didius Falco series of mysteries which is set in Ancient Rome. Marcus's voice often reminds me of a hard-bitten gumshoe detective but when you make that setting Rome it means that we get really fun reads! The fact that the voice and characterisations are so well drawn in the series, I can see myself reading all 20 books in the series in due course!

The quote comes from page 129-130

The judge lived in an impressive house of the type I could easily covet. Worse, his house might even convince me to aspire to his rank.

It was a detached town villa just off the Vicus Longus, not too large and not too small; it had some fine rooms for impressing public visitors, but was arranged for decent privacy. Marponius never went down to Petro's meagre guardhouse; he had felons brought here for interviews. He had a social conscience. He wanted lags like me to discover the urge to reform through seeing what could come from more legitimate types of crime. Compared to speculation and usury, mere theft and murder began to look unprofitable and quite hard work. Even being an informer seemed a dead-end job.

I presented my person at a ponderous marble portico. The elaborate studs and shiny bronze door furniture were overdone to my mind, but as an auctioneer's son I had seen that much of the world has unsubtle taste. Under the frippery, it was a solid hardwood door. The judge simply belonged to the group that likes to ruin good material.

Marponius and I would never agree on decor. I was a spare-time poet with a refined nature, whose occupation called for a sensitive, humane approach. He was a dull thug from the middle rank who had made himself rich, and therefore significant, by selling scientific encyclopaedias to New Men. By New Men I mean ex-slaves and foreign immigrants; people with overflowing coffers but no education who want to appear cultured. They could afford to buy literary works by weight - and more importantly, they could fit themselves up with ranks of literate slaves to read the works aloud. In the shifting social strata of Rome there was plenty of scope for applying gloss to upstarts. So if a treatise was Greek, incomprehensible and came in twenty scrolls, Marponius had his team of scribes copy it out. He used best-quality papyrus, black gall ink, and highly scented sandalwood for the end pieces. Then he supplied the slaves with refined voices too. That was where the money lay. It was a neat trick. I wish I had thought of it.


  1. Woohoo! So glad you are on book 5 of this series already! I hope that means you are falling in love with Falco and his family as much as I have :-)

    1. Absolutely. I love Falco's insecurity when it comes to Helena, her faith in him, the way he talks about his family but then is really a rock for all of them!

  2. I love the cover! I really want to read this series -- I love stuff set in ancient room and the quote you used reminds me of what I adore abt hist fic -- ambiance and mood.

    1. There is plenty of ambience in this series, Audra!