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Literature / Africanus Trilogy

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If you want peace, prepare for war.
Africanus is a Historical Fiction novel trilogy written by Spanish author Santiago Posteguillo between 2006 and 2009. The title comes from its first book, Africanus: Son of the Consul, which was followed by The Accursed Legions and The Betrayal of Rome.

It follows the lifes of Scipio Africanus, Hannibal and Titus Maccius Plautus through the Second Punic War and the Roman-Seleucid War, covering most battles and political figures of the period.

The trilogy provides the examples of:

  • Artistic License – History: While Posteguillo's knowledge is undeniable, it doesn't stop the books from needing their own page for all their historical incoherences.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Taking a ballista shot to the leg was a safe way to become crippled forever in the setting (heck, people retired after taking an arrow to the knee, didn’t?), assuming you didn't lose the entire limb with the impact. However, Hannibal basically no-sells it and is perfectly well after the siege of Saguntum, not even limping. The whole incident is real, as Hannibal got wounded in the leg in Saguntum, but it is thought to have been a javelin, not a ballista shot (and we we don't know whether he suffered lasting effects of it, which he probably did).
  • Artistic License – Religion:
    • The Celtic deity Dagda is a god of fertility, not a goddess of the underworld as Ilmo claims.
    • The third book has Hannibal carry a load of statues of Punic gods and another of Iberian gods clearly differentiated from each other. In real life, Iberian gods were obscure and functionally aniconic, and their religious artwork was dedicated instead to portray the mundane part of religion, like sacrifices, rituals, priests and consecrated animals. Their only representations of gods were precisely those of Phoenicio-Punic deities adopted by cultural assimilation, like Tanit-Astarte and Melkart, which makes the book's difference particularly amusing.
  • Ascended Extra: Maharbal is Hannibal's de facto second-in-command in the story, while the real Maharbal was a very minor figure, a cavalry commander whose main contribution to the sources was giving a single, memorable What the Hell, Hero? quote to Hannibal.
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  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Scipio himself. The novels takes a lot of effort to paint him as an unpolluted, complete boy-scout Ideal Hero without any real character flaw or moral ambiguity until his very last years in the third book, and even then the story frames a lot of it within its enmity with his irredeemable political enemies. In contrast, the historical Scipio was far from being pure, and had his own controversy for reasons that are either downplayed or fully excised from his portrayal here: he was an unapologetic provoker, a frequent lawbreaker often for petty reasons, and even a bit of a religious loon who either believed or pretended to be the son of Jupiter.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • To a staggering degree with Quintus Fabius Maximus, who is almost turned into his historical antithesis here. In real life, he was the maximum defender of Rome, a man who rejected personal political benefit in order to, who often arbitrated between Senatorial factions to keep Rome united, and who was certainly one of the most popular figures in the history of Rome. In those books, he is instead a manipulative, power-hungry megalomaniac that is a literal sexual deviant, who lets every Roman struggle happen in order to thrive himself, and whose meager popularity fades after his death in the shadow of Scipio and Cato.
    • Not any less with Marcus Porcius Cato, who takes Fabius' mantle as Scipio's Arch-Enemy in the third book. The real Cato was a massively popular politician who came on top of Roman society through being incredible humble, just and austere, to the point it was said that he dressed like his own slaves and shared all the pains of every campaign with his soldiers. In the novel, he's a squeamish, pedantic intriguant who seems to be very unpopular and whose political power comes all from evil machinations.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The character of the Seleucid counselor Epiphanes, a Canon Foreigner, seems to evoke Demetrius of Pharus, who plays the same role for Philip V earlier in the story.
  • The Vamp: Sophonisba manages to turn Syphax to the Carthaginian cause through sex, and almost gets the same with Masinissa.

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