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Robert Harris's fictionalised biography of Cicero (106-43 BC) in three parts, as told by his slave and confidential secretary Tiro, a real person who served as Cicero's secretary throughout his career and apparently did write a real biography of Cicero that is lost to history.

In Harris's novel series, Tiro, through Cicero, narrates the final decades of the Roman Republic, as the power struggles between people like Crassus, Pompey, Caesar, Antony, and Octavian eventually led to the destruction of the Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.

The series is a trilogy:

  • Imperium: (2006) Covering Cicero's entry into public life in 79 BC, going through his election to consul in 64 BC.
  • Lustrum: (2009) Cicero's consulate in 63 BC, including his defeat of Catilina's conspiracy, and the four years after, running to 58 BC, ending with his exile from Rome in 58 BC.
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  • Dictator: (2016) The last 15 years of Cicero's life, covering the Roman civil wars and the rise of Julius Caesar, Caesar's assassination, and the formation of the Second Triumvirate that resulted in Cicero's death on Mark Antony's orders in 43 BC.

This series has examples of:

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Mithridates, King of Pontus and longstanding enemy of Rome, reportedly spent years doing this. Tiro relates that when on the verge of defeat by Pompey, Mithridates tried to poison himself but it didn't work, so instead he had to order an underling to kill him.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • Even Clodius is amused by some of Cicero's cracks at his expense.
    • Caesar roars with laughter when told one of Cicero's barbs about him.
  • Affably Evil: Crassus, most of the time.
    Tiro: ... trying to fix precisely what it was about him which made him so disconcerting, I think it was this: his indiscriminate and detached friendliness, which you knew would never waver or diminish even if he had just decided to have you killed.
    • Caesar is noted as having perfect manners, even when sentencing a man to death.
    • Catilina is delightful company for anyone he thinks is on his side.
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    • Octavian, like his uncle, has impeccable manners and flatters people who he thinks will help him rise to the top.
  • The Alcoholic: Antonius Hybrida, Cicero's colleague as consul. Hybrida drinks wine straight, which is a big deal in ancient Rome, where almost everybody cut wine with water.
  • Alliterative Name: Lucius Lucullus. Bonus points because his full name is Lucius Licinius Lucullus.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Pompey marries Caesar's daughter Julia to seal their alliance. Later, after Julia dies, Pompey spurns an offer to marry another female relative of Caesar and instead marries a daughter of a prominent opponent of Caesar, a sign that their alliance is breaking down and Pompey is gravitating towards the optimates.
  • Always Someone Better: Crassus, for all his wealth, resents the military glory achieved by Pompey while his own biggest military success was defeating a slave revolt (slaves were not considered a Worthy Opponent by the Romans). It doesn't help that Pompey even claims the credit for that, as he technically ended the war by mopping up the last remnants of the slave army. It eventually leads to Crassus invading Parthia, where he is killed in battle.
  • Ambition Is Evil: In a story filled with ambitious people, Caesar's desire for power stands out. Cicero calls Caesar's lust for power a "disease". At the end of Lustrum, after Caesar tells a story about how he'd rather be the top man in some no-account village over being the second man in Rome, a horrified Cicero goes into exile rather than work for Caesar.
  • Amoral Attorney: Cicero has no qualms about defending obviously guilty men in court, for bribes or political gain. His Courtroom Antics make him famous in Rome and lead to his consulship.
  • Ancient Rome: Obviously. The story covers the final decades of the The Roman Republic and its transformation into The Roman Empire.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Caesar weeps when the Egyptians hand him Pompey's head on a plate.
  • Anyone Can Die: Truth in Fiction. By the end pretty much all the major players have suffered an unnatural death, including Cicero himself. The last survivor, Octavian, ends up becoming Rome's first emperor. The shrewd Atticus, who avoids politics, also makes it to the end alive.
  • Appeal to Force:
    • When Pompey returns to Italy after conquering in the east, he makes a point of disbanding his army at the earliest opportunity and enters Rome as a civilian. Nevertheless, he reminds the Senate that he could easily have just marched on Rome and seized power.
    • Facing certain prosecution and the end of his political career if he gives up his army and imperium, Caesar decides to fight a civil war to defend his rights.
  • A Rare Sentence: To the amazement of everyone, Cato supports appointing Pompey as sole consul, calling it "a sensible compromise."
    Coming from Cato, this was almost unbelievable – he had used the word "compromise" for the first time in his life – and no one looked more stunned than Pompey.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Largely averted due to the story's Black-and-Gray Morality. But the aristocratic leaders are some of the more honourable characters and pretty much the only ones to stand by Cicero after his fall from grace at the end of the second book.
  • Armchair Military: Cicero, who by his own admission has no taste for soldiering and little experience of it, gets called out on this whenever he talks about military affairs. It's why Pompey ignores his (actually pretty sound) advice during the civil war, like retaking Rome instead of pursuing Caesar into the mountains. Quintus, who does have military experience, also chews him out after Cicero mocks Pompey and the other senators for continuing a losing cause in the wake of their defeat by Caesar at Pharsalus.
    Quintus: While other men go off to die, you sit behind with the elderly and the womenfolk, polishing your speeches and your pointless witticisms!
  • Artistic License – History: Mostly averted as Harris sticks with history, but there is one notable moment. Cicero and Tiro are placed in the Senate for the assassination of Caesar. In Real Life, Cicero, who had largely withdrawn from public affairs during this time, was out of town on March 15, 44 BC, and Tiro, as a slave, wouldn't have been allowed inside the building.
  • Asshole Victim: Tiro has no sympathy when the Catiline conspirators are executed, remembering the young slave boy they butchered and sacrificed.
  • Bald of Evil: Crassus. Caesar is also noted to be losing his hair.
  • Based on a True Story: Harris mentions in the front matter to the novels that he attempted to stick to history but deviated from history whenever the demands of fiction required.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed:
    • King Mithridates takes this option when on the verge of defeat.
    • An inversion by Cato, who chooses to kill himself rather than be spared by Caesar.
  • Big Bad: A few examples, though a lot of characters are black and gray rather than outright evil. Even most of the baddies end up on the same side as Cicero at one time or another.
    • Catilina and Crassus in Imperium and Lustrum.
    • Clodius in Lustrum and Dictator.
    • Caesar to varying degrees in all three books, but especially Dictator when he fights a war against the Senate.
    • Cicero regards Antony as the Big Bad in the second half of Dictator, but it's really Octavian.
    • Pompey is a subtler example, in that he's allied with Cicero and is not a bad guy, albeit he is extremely vain and pompous with a huge ego. Nevertheless, his endless demands for honors, privileges and special commands (sometimes nudged along by the threat of an Appeal to Force) greatly undermine the Republic and pave the way for men like Caesar and Octavian to take over.
  • Big Fancy House:
    • Averted with Cicero, who makes a point of staying in a rather ordinary house so as not to antagonize the plebeians that support him.
    • Then later played straight by Cicero, who, after his consulship is over, buys a gaudy, ostentatious house from Crassus at a cut-rate price that he still has to borrow to pay. This backfires on him spectacularly, as it makes him look like an aloof ivory-tower elite to the plebians, and leads to rumors that the house was given to him as a bribe, all of which is exactly what Crassus wanted to happen.
  • Bittersweet Ending: For the series as a whole. Cicero is murdered, on Antony's orders, and Octavian eventually comes to power as Emperor Augustus. The Republic is destroyed. But Tiro gets his freedom and the little farm he yearned for, and he even marries Agathe, the pretty slave he met in the first book.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Sometimes it's difficult to tell who the heroes are meant to be.
    • This is particularly noted in Lustrum when Cicero takes rather dubious methods in his consular year: bribing people, rigging ballots and later taking bribes. He's not as above corruption as people think he is. Matters do not improve afterwards; his defence of Hybridus and attempt to organize a coup against Caesar are painfully ironic echoes of Cicero's past triumphs. By the time of Dictator he's despairing that Brutus and Cassius didn't just murder all their enemies.
    • During the civil war, Pompey's supporters, who are ostensibly defending liberty and the republic, openly talk of their plans to massacre Caesar's supporters, his troops and anyone else who just didn't support them with enough vigor. Cicero is appalled by this and opines that their side winning might actually be worse than them losing.
    • Caesar by contrast is actually more lenient and reasonable, often spares the lives of men who fought against him, and repeatedly offers a negotiated peace.
  • Blatant Lies: Antony promises Caesar's assassins that he will speak with moderation at Caesar's funeral. Instead, he kicks off his speech with "We come to bid farewell to no tyrant! We come to bid farewell to a great man foully murdered..." and so forth. By the end the crowd is howling for the assassins' blood.
  • Bling of War: In Roman triumphs, the victorious general typically parades all the wealth he plundered during the conflict. Pompey, Caesar and Lucullus all do it.
    Pompey had laid out open chests on glistening display that morning which contained seventy-five million silver drachmae: more than the annual tax revenue of the entire Roman world. And that was just the cash. Towering over the parade, and requiring a team of four oxen to pull it, was a solid gold statue of Mithradates that was twelve feet tall. There was Mithradates's throne and his sceptre, also gold. There were thirty-three of his crowns, made of pearl, and three golden statues of Apollo, Minerva and Mars. There was a mountain shaped like a pyramid and made of gold, with deer and lions and fruit of every variety, and a golden vine entwined all around it. There was a chequered gaming board, three feet long by four feet broad, made of precious green and blue stones, with a solid gold moon upon it weighing thirty pounds. There was a sundial made of pearls. Another five wagons were required to carry the most precious books from the royal library.
  • Blood on the Debate Floor: The Trope Maker and most famous occurrence in history, as a gang of assassins stab Caesar to death during a meeting of the Senate. A shocked Tiro and Cicero are the last people left in the building along with Caesar's corpse after everyone runs for it.
  • Blue Blood: The aristocrats take themselves and their position very seriously.
    • Played with in the case of Caesar. He considers his family the most ancient in Rome and the direct descendants of the goddess Venus, and as such despises even the other aristocrats as inferior upstarts and supports populist policies. Tiro suggests that Caesar's popularity with the mob is because he looks down on everyone, and is far too superior to be much of a snob.
    • Inverted in Lustrum with Clodius, one of Caesar's relatives, who gets himself officially made a plebeian so he can become a tribune. He then starts to screw with Cicero every chance he gets.
  • Book Ends: Popillius, the 15-year-old boy that Cicero gets off a murder rap at the beginning of Cicero's career, is the tribune that arrives to kill Cicero.
  • Bread and Circuses: Political candidates are obliged to put on lavish Gladiator Games and feasts for the plebs during elections. A standout is Crassus pledging to spend a tenth of his entire fortune providing three months of free food for every citizen. When he becomes tribune, Clodius introduces Rome's first free bread dole.
  • Break the Haughty: Lucullus, although he didn't deserve all of it.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Clodius is widely suspected of committing this with his sister Clodia. Clodia's bitter ex-husband Lucullus testifies to this in court.
  • The Butcher: Mentioned as an old nickname of Pompey (and his father before him) although we don't see much evidence of it in the books themselves.
  • Call-Back: Towards the end of the third book, as a teenaged Octavian is demanding to be made consul, a rueful Cicero remembers the Lex Gabinia law that gave Pompey a command against the pirates, and how it set everything on the road to ruin.
  • Call-Forward:
    Tiro: "The day I am parted from Tiro," said Cicero prophetically, "is the day I retire from public life."
  • The Casanova: Caesar, who seems to have a thing for the wives of his fellow Roman elites. One of Caesar's mistresses remarks bitterly (after he throws her over) that Caesar likes to fuck consul's wives. Cicero is quite irritated when Caesar makes a veiled pass at Cicero's wife.
    Catulus: [after Caesar is elected Pontifex Maximus] Can you imagine Caesar responsible for the Vestal Virgins? He has to live among them! It would be like entrusting your hen coop to a fox!
    • Truth in Television, as Caesar’s sexual appetites were well-known, and a cause for scorn in a culture that viewed lust and promiscuity to be feminine attributes. Caesar was even nicknamed “Queen of Rome” on account of his prolific sex life.
  • The Cassandra: Cicero is this quite a bit in the third book, even calling himself a Cassandra. He tells Pompey that Caesar will be super-pissed at him for spurning a marriage alliance; Pompey doesn't listen. When word comes of a peace offer from Caesar, Cicero says Pompey should have taken it, which strikes Tiro as unduly pessimistic. After Caesar's army retreats into the interior of Greece, Cicero recommends that Pompey's army break off contact and head west to retake Rome itself rather than follow. Pompey ignores Cicero again, heads into the interior to face Caesar, and is destroyed at Pharsalus.
  • The Chessmaster: Crassus; Caesar.
  • Cincinnatus: Invoked by Cicero when he advises Pompey to act like he doesn't want to be given the command to defeat the pirates.
  • Civil War: There are two in Dictator: The first is between Caesar and the Senate, the second between Caesar's heirs (who initially fight each other) and then between them and the Republic's forces.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Tiro walking in on Caesar and Pompey's wife. She doesn't notice Tiro due to their position; Caesar does, but continues unabated.
  • Colonel Badass: Metellus Celer.
  • Comically Missing the Point: While going through the charges Hybrida is facing for his many crimes and screw-ups as governor of Macedonia, Cicero notes that he is accused of losing an army. Hybrida corrects him: "only the infantry."
  • Conspicuous Consumption:
    • Lucullus, although Tiro believes this is more a distraction from depression than anything else.
    • Crassus thinks nothing of spending one-tenth of his entire fortune on three months of free food for every citizen.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In Dictator, Tiro, now freed, goes to a bathhouse. He randomly runs into Agathe, the pretty slave whose freedom he bought at the end of Lustrum, now running the bathhouse. Eventually he marries her.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Crassus.
  • Corrupt Politician: It would be much quicker to name the politicians who are not corrupt. Corruption is so endemic that being appointed governor of a province is basically an open invitation to spend the next few years enriching yourself at the locals' expense. Cicero actually causes a big stir when he renounces his province (but still accepts a cut of the proceeds from the guy who takes it instead). There's also the option of starting a war with a neighboring tribe and plundering them instead.
  • Creator Provincialism: Harris does make a bit of a habit of depicting the Roman Senate as essentially the British House of Commons with everyone in a toga. Phrases such as “back bencher”, “members opposite”, “bobbing” (the practice in the House of Commons of MPs quickly standing up and sitting back down again to signal that they want to be called on to speak in debates), and “the House divided” all crop up. Harris, as a former political journalist, has a lot of experience of and knowledge about how the House of Commons works.
  • Cruel Mercy: Caesar likes to spare the lives of his opponents (many other characters are not so lenient). Not only does it allow him to present himself as moderate and peaceable, but it also screws with his opponents:
    Tiro: Cicero said to me later that of all the clever strokes that Caesar pulled, perhaps the most brilliant was his policy of clemency. It was, in a curious way, akin to sending home the garrison of Uxellodunum with their hands cut off. These proud men were humbled, neutered; they crept back to their astonished comrades as living emblems of Caesar’s power. And by their very presence they lowered morale across the entire army, for how could Pompey persuade his soldiers to fight to the death when they knew that if it came to it they could lay down their arms and return to their families?
  • Day of the Jackboot: The underlying theme of the series is the collapse of the Roman Republic and the coming of the Roman Empire. There is a scene in Lustrum where Cato lays out quite clearly for Cicero what is to come—the continuing habit of empowering people like Pompey with special commands will result in those commanders controlling the state. The Senate will be powerless and whoever commands the loyalty of the legions will rule. (See also Pompey's speech under Historical In-Joke below.) At one point in Lustrum Tiro talks about how Caesar destroyed the Roman constitution and expresses a wish that Caesar is burning in hell.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Gaius Trebonius's mutilated body is put on public display by Dolabella, with a message that Trebonius is the first of Caesar's assassins to die.
  • Death by Childbirth:
    • In Dictator Pompey's wife Julia, Caesar's only child, dies in childbirth. It's an important moment as it breaks the alliance between them and sets Rome on the path to civil war.
    • This also happens to Cicero's beloved daughter Tullia.
  • Decapitation Presentation:
    • After Pompey is murdered in Egypt, the Egyptians present Caesar with his head. He doesn't take it well.
    • In Dictator, the Parthians put Crassus's son's head on a pike after they find his body at Carrhae.
    • Gnaeus Pompey's head is put on display after Caesar crushes his rebellion in Spain.
    • Helvius Cinna's head is put on a spike and paraded around by an angry mob looking to avenge Caesar—and he's the wrong Cinna, as Cornelius Cinna was one of Caesar's assassins.
    • Cicero's severed head and hands are displayed on the rostra on Antony's orders.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Cicero makes a big mistake when he buys a huge (and ruinously expensive) house from Crassus at a knockdown price. To help pay for it, he takes a large bribe for defending one of the Catiline conspirators in court and also accepts a portion of the money that his co-consul Hybrida has extorted from his province, leaving him vulnerable to charges of corruption by his enemies. Moreover, it also makes him look like one of the ivory tower aristocrats he used to rail against, alienating his core supporters.
    • Cicero repeatedly bemoans the failure of Caesar's assassins to take out Antony as well, or to take any other measure to restore republican government. Instead they simply kill Caesar and call it a day, assuming everything will go back to normal.
    • In the final novel, Cicero throws his support behind Octavian, completely failing to take him seriously as a threat, instead regarding him as Just a Kid who can be used to defeat Antony and then discarded ("he can be raised, praised and erased"). Cicero is warned by others not to trust him but doesn't realize his mistake until it is too late.
  • Dirty Coward: For all his bluster about protecting Cicero, Pompey does nothing when Caesar unleashes Clodius against him. Cicero goes to Pompey for help when he is on the verge of being exiled, but Pompey hides in his villa and won't even come out to speak to him.
  • Downer Ending: Lustrum has quite the Downer Ending, as Cicero goes into exile while Clodius's goons burn down his house and Caesar goes off to war.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Lucius, disappointed by his cousin Cicero's ethical lapses, drinks hemlock.
    • Suggested a couple of times as a "way out" for characters down on their luck. Apparently did happen to Catulus's father.
    • Cato literally rips his own guts out after Caesar defeats him in Africa.
    • Cornutus falls on his sword after the defection of the African legions robs the Senate of any hope of opposing Octavian.
    • Tiro notes that Antony and Cleopatra both committed suicide after being defeated by Octavian.
  • Egopolis: While conquering in the east, Pompey names three cities Pompeiopolis.
  • Emergency Authority: A few times Pompey conspires to be given this in order to deal with some perceived threat to Rome. The Lex Gabinia grants him near-unlimited powers to deal with the Mediterranean pirates. He is also appointed sole consul after Caesar invades Italy. As Cato points out, the trend of giving supreme commands to one man is actually undermining the Republic and its tradition of power-sharing.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Cicero spends most of Imperium struggling against the aristocrats, but is eventually forced into an alliance with them to oppose Catilina. During Lustrum the nobles end up becoming his most reliable allies and some of the few friends he has left by the end.
    • Cato, a long-standing opponent of Pompey, allies with him in order to contain what he sees as the bigger threat to the Republic, Caesar.
    • Octavian and Antony team up to face Brutus and Cassius together and then divide the Roman world between themselves.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: The Real Life Trope Namer (via Shakespeare's Julius Caesar). Caesar's dying words are a reproach to Decimus Brutus: "even you?"
  • Every Man Has His Price:
    • Much of the first book's plot involves Cicero trying to stop Crassus bribing various members of government to block his legislation, while turning down bribes himself. Things get a bit more complicated in the second book.
    • Octavian also takes this approach. The Senate's African legion defects to him after he offers to double their pay.
  • Everyone Is Related: Most of the major aristocratic characters are related to each other by marriage (or extramarital affairs) at least.
  • The Exile: When Clodius, an old enemy of Cicero, is elected Tribune, he passes laws against Cicero and forces him to go into exile in Greece.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Several people. Cicero himself accepts the end calmly and bares his neck for his murderer.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Tiro recalls that agents of The Empire later confiscated all the correspondence between Caesar and Cicero, looking to suppress anything that contradicted the official line that the late Dictator was a genius. However, they overlooked his copious shorthand notes, assuming them to be harmless gibberish, and he was able to refer to them when writing his biography of Cicero.
  • False Flag Operation:
    • Cicero invents out of whole cloth a desire by a group of Gauls to support Catilina's conspiracy, in order to find out just who amongst the Roman Senate supports Catilina and to get documentary proof.
    • Pompey and his cronies invent an assassination plot against him to give them an excuse to suspend the consular elections (or rather, to stop Milo winning them).
  • Femme Fatale: Clodia.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Tiro acts as narrator, but has little role in advancing the plot. He's present at many important meetings, but only to take notes.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Particularly in the first book, Tiro makes allusions to what (we know from history) will happen towards the end.
    • In the second book, Tiro mentions that Caesar had a habit when he sensed danger of throwing his head back and almost literally smelling the air, then mentions that he saw Caesar do this just before Caesar was murdered.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • Two stubborn elderly senators both insist on standing for the vacant post of Pontifex Maximus and refuse to come to an agreement whereby one will stand aside so the other can win. As Cicero predicted, this splits the vote and allows Caesar to narrowly win the election. Tiro reflects that had Caesar lost, having borrowed massive amounts of money for his campaign, his political career would probably have ended there.
    • If only both consuls hadn't been killed in the battles with Antony.
  • Framing Device: The books are presented as Tiro's biography of his boss and the times that they lived in. Bonus points because we know that Tiro really did write a biography of Cicero, but it has long since been lost.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Milo's trial is attended by large numbers of Pompey's soldiers and supporters of Clodius, who intimidate the jurors and jeer at Cicero throughout. The verdict is a foregone conclusion, but Milo is actually guilty anyway.
  • A Friend in Need: At the beginning of Dictator Cicero is hiding out at Flaccus's house when they receive word that Clodius's new law makes harboring an exile a capital offense. Flaccus says he doesn't care, that he's not afraid of Clodius and Cicero can stay with him.
  • Friendly Enemy: Caesar is known to have a great admiration for Cicero, and frequently tries to bring him over to his side, makes a point of telling Cicero that none of their conflict is personal, treats him like a close friend and promises him personal protection if he needs it. Cicero isn't above claiming friendship with Caesar either, even to his face. This despite each of them also viewing the other as probably their most dangerous adversary.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • The young Octavian's rapid ascent from obscure relation of Caesar to major powerbroker catches everyone by surprise. Cicero in particular underestimates his ruthlessness and talent for political intrigue. This eventually leads to Cicero's destruction.
    Tiro: Why did you urge him to go to Rome? Surely the last thing you want to encourage is another Caesar?
    Cicero: If he goes to Rome he'll cause problems for Antony. He'll split their faction.
    Tiro: And if his adventure succeeds?
    Cicero: It won't....He's a nice boy...but he's no Caesar—you only have to look at him."
    • Clodius goes from a fairly harmless playboy to rabble-rousing demagogue and one of Cicero's most implacable enemies.
  • The Gambler: Caesar, politically and militarily rather than games or racing. At one point he stakes everything on being elected Pontifex Maximus, knowing that he'll be ruined if he fails. Cicero notes that whenever one of Caesar's gambles doesn't pay off, he just doubles the stakes and plays again.
  • General Failure:
    • Crassus goes "against the advice of more experienced officers", according to Cassius, makes several tactical errors, and leads his army to disastrous defeat against the Parthians at Carrhae.
    • Despite his many earlier successes, Pompey for his part completely botches the civil war, being forced to evacuate Rome, losing Spain, failing to anticipate Caesar's crossing the Adriatic, following Caesar into the mountains when he could have retaken Rome, and then getting thrashed at Pharsalus when he had Caesar outnumbered.
    • Hybrida manages to lose an entire army while governor of Macedonia. He insists that it was "only the infantry".
  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card:
    • Cicero thinks he has one of these throughout the second book, thanks to his connections with Pompey and Caesar and his public popularity. He's wrong.
    • Cicero thinks he has another of these when Octavian pledges to protect him. He's wrong again.
  • Glad I Thought of It: Pompey is said to do this a lot. At one point after giving a speech he asks if Cicero liked his choice of words, apparently forgetting that Cicero wrote the speech for him.
  • A God Am I:
    • In Dictator, during Caesar and Cicero's last conversation, Caesar says he's not afraid of death, and Cicero asks him why. Caesar replies that he won't die with his body, because he's a god. Cicero realizes that all that power has driven Caesar mad.
    • Cicero himself has a bout of this when his ego and vanity are off the charts after he is named Father of the Nation for defeating Catilina's conspiracy. He considers commissioning a poet to immortalize his acceptance into the pantheon of gods.
    • A tradition in Roman triumphs is for a slave to stand behind the triumphing general and remind him that he is only mortal. Tiro does not envy the slave charged with this task during Pompey's triumph. The slave apparently annoyed Pompey so much that he roughly shoved him off the platform at the earliest opportunity.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Clodius and Catilina's plan for the former to prosecute the latter in a rigged trial that will benefit them both. Clodius is to mount a vigorous prosecution that will enhance his reputation (and avert accusations of a fix), but will fail because the jurors have already been bribed by Catilina, thus allowing him to escape the charges against him. However, Clodius produces so much evidence of Catilina's guilt that even the bribed jurors balk at letting him off. Ultimately, Catilina only gets a dishonorable discharge from the court and Clodius hastily flees the city.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: One of the themes of the series is the Roman Republic's gradual degradation, culminating in the rise of the Roman Empire. But this is not played as straight as it appears. The Republic of Cicero's time already possesses a vast empire, and is violent, corrupt, badly governed and dominated by a small group of wealthy men.
  • Greed: This is Crassus' defining characteristic. He even visits Cicero on the eve of his exile and tries to buy his house at a knockdown price. Ultimately it proves to be Crassus' undoing, as he invades Parthia, a wealthy neighbouring kingdom, hoping to loot and conquer it, but instead gets killed in battle.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Catilina can be charming and charismatic but is also prone to bouts of violent rage in which he seems to forget where he is.
  • Happiness in Slavery: In Imperium Tiro comments on how he and the other household slaves are happy to belong to "so eminent a man" as Cicero. Averted later, however, as Tiro yearns for his own country farm and wishes Cicero would free him.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Caelius Rufus, who starts out as one of Crassus's supporters, then supports Cicero after studying law with him, then throws his lot in with Clodius and leads the prosecution of Hybrida which is part of the campaign against Cicero. In Dictator they become allies again when Cicero defends Rufus in court.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Hortensius, Cicero's longtime rival, winds up the first novel by throwing his support to Cicero and getting him elected consul.
    • Catulus, a friend of Hortensius, who rips into Cicero for his low breeding in his first appearance, becomes one of his most trusted allies during Lustrum and arranges Cicero's unprecedented thanksgiving.
  • Heroic BSoD: Pompey and Crassus both suffer one when faced with military disaster, Pompey as he watches his cavalry get routed by Caesar's veterans at Pharsalus, and Crassus after his son is killed in battle against the Parthians.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Cicero and Tiro, to the point where Terentia complains that her husband spends more time in Tiro's company than hers. Even when Tiro, as a free man, has the opportunity to go his own way near the end of the story, he decides not to be parted from Cicero.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Cicero spends his life battling to save Roman liberty from various would-be tyrants. By the end of his career he's advocating the extra-judicial murder of Caesar's allies (like Mark Antony) and tells Brutus and Cassius that they should have just seized control of the Government when they had the chance.
  • High Priest: Caesar becomes the Roman equivalent, the Pontifex Maximus, during the second novel. It results in a big increase in his political clout.
  • Historical Domain Character: Most of the cast and all of the major characters. Tiro is traditionally credited with the invention of shorthand, as well as other symbols that exist to this day, such as the ampersand (&) to stand for "and".
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • On the first page Tiro says of Cicero that "it is of power and the man that I sing." This is a play on the opening line of Vergil's The Aeneid, "Of arms and the man I sing" (Arma virumque cano).
    • When Pompey gives his acceptance speech after the Lex Gabinia bestows upon him enormous power to defeat the pirates, he says "I shall now again put on that uniform once so dear and so familiar to me, the sacred red cloak of a Roman commander in the field, and I shall not take it off again until victory in this war is won—or I shall not survive the outcome!" Minus the bit about the sacred red cloak, this is nearly word-for-word a quote from Adolf Hitler's speech to the Reichstag upon the start of World War II, Sept. 1, 1939.
    • After Clodia is humiliated at Rufus's trial in Dictator, Tiro comments that she then receded into the obscurity which she deserved. The trial of Rufus is in fact the last mention of Clodia in the historical record.
    • Cicero announces Antony's defeat at Mutina to the people and says "This is your victory!" The people shout back "No, it is your victory!" This is a lift from Winston Churchill addressing the London crowds on V-E day in 1945.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Half the cast. YMMV on whether they were actually as bad as they appear.
  • Honor Before Reason: Cicero takes this option a few times, but it rarely works out well for him.
    • On the eve of Cicero's exile, Caesar offers him a legateship, which will save him from Clodius by giving him legal immunity but will also make him, in Cicero's words, "Caesar's creature". He turns down the offer and spends the next year in exile.
    • Brutus insists that the conspirators only kill Caesar, rather than also killing Caesar's allies like Antony and Lepidus and seizing control of the Government. Cicero laments his lack of foresight.
  • Hope Spot: For a time in 43 BC, it seems everything has worked out—with Cicero calling the shots in Rome as acting consul, Antony is defeated at Mutina and the Senate has won. Then everything unravels: consuls Hirtius and Pansa are killed at Mutina, Antony escapes, Lepidus's legions go over to Antony, and then Octavian joins Antony as well, and the Republic is destroyed.
  • Human Sacrifice: Lustrum opens with the discovery of a boy slave who appears to have been butchered in a ritualistic human sacrifice. Cicero is appalled. It turns out that Catilina did it in order to bind together his fellow conspirators.
  • I Am the Noun: After becoming dictator, Caesar tells Cicero: "I am the vote of the Senate".
  • Icy Gray Eyes: Octavian has these. Cicero calls them "pale, grey, soulless."
  • I Told You So: Cicero unwisely does this in the wake of Pompey's defeat at Pharsalus, pointing out that had they followed his suggested course of action, they would not now be in this position. Given that he is addressing actual survivors from the battle (while he remained at camp), this almost gets him killed.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Catilina is bankrupt; Caesar is so far in debt he has to flee the city.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Cicero becomes wildly egotistical after his consulship, comparing himself to Romulus and Pompey, attempting to write an epic poem about himself, and telling everyone how awesome he is. Tiro concludes that Cicero is doing this because he is wracked with guilt over the execution of five senators that were part of Catilina's conspiracy.
    • Quintus complains that his own career and interests have always been sidetracked for Cicero's convenience.
  • Just a Kid: Octavian is still a teenager when he first appears. It's one of the reasons why everyone, and Cicero in particular, underestimates him.
    Cicero: To think that I, of all people, have been outwitted at the last by a young man who has barely started to shave!
  • Kangaroo Court:
    • Early in Lustrum Caesar arranges for the prosecution of an elderly senator for treason and gets himself appointed judge. He finds the Senator guilty and sentences him to be crucified without bothering to hear any witnesses. Rigging trials is a fairly regular occurrence, but this is blatant enough to shock even the harden practitioners.
    • The flip side of this is that Jury and Witness Tampering is also commonplace in Rome, and frequently used by the guilty to escape punishment for their misdeeds. Catilina bemoans how much it cost him to bribe the jury at his trial.
    Clodius: The law is so expensive... poor Catalina has had to sell his heirlooms to be sure of justice.
  • Karma Houdini: Octavius, later Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, later Augustus, never does face any comeuppance for betraying his word and overthrowing the Roman Republic, not to mention throwing Cicero to the wolves.
  • Killed Offscreen: Pompey, Cato, Catilina, Milo. Since neither Cicero nor Tiro were present at their deaths, they only learn about them days later.
  • The Last DJ: Cato gains a lot of respect for his uncompromising old Republican ideals, but it doesn't mean anyone agrees with him or does him any favours.
    • He notes correctly that giving special commands to people like Pompey opens the pathway to military dictatorship (see Day of the Jackboot above). When Pompey has his triumph, Cato observes, again correctly, that Rome is invading and conquering far-flung areas that Romans have no business in, and that this expansionism is undermining the Republic.
    Caesar: Sit down, you damn sanctimonious windbag!
  • Last Stand: Catilina and the conspirators do this. After Catilina gives a rousing speech they charge the Senatorial army. Catilina is found surrounded by a group of soldiers that he killed.
  • Make an Example of Them: After crushing Spartacus' slave revolt, Crassus has 6000 captured slaves crucified along the Via Appia and left to rot, which appalls Cicero and Tiro.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Crassus is this to many of Cicero's adversaries. Cicero increasingly becomes convinced that Caesar is this to Crassus.
  • Manly Tears: Pompey sheds them when his wife Julia dies in childbirth.
  • Market-Based Title: Lustrum was released as Conspirata in the US and France.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Cicero, who is from a prosperous but not rich family, twice marries women from wealthy families. The first goes fairly well, the second less so.
  • Meaningful Name: Cicero comes from the Latin word cicer meaning "chickpea", Cicero keeps a bowl of chickpeas in his tablinum.
  • The Mistress: Servilia, who is married to someone else, is Caesar's long-term mistress. Some speculate that one of her motivations is to ensure her husband becomes consul.
  • Named Like My Name: In revenge for Caesar's murder, the completely innocent Helvius Cinna is killed by a mob who mistake him for Cornelius Cinna, one of the assassins.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Pompey upon taking up the authority bestowed on him by the Lex Gabinia; see Historical In-Joke above. The Lex Gabinia, concentrating as it did so much power in one man, is commonly regarded as a milestone in the collapse of the Roman Republic.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Cicero helps get Pompey's lex gabinia passed. He later acknowledges that this was one of the milestones in the demise of the republic, as it set a precedent for one man being given supreme power in the state. Later on, he also supports and empowers Octavian, which further hastens the republic's fall.
    • Brutus and co think that killing Caesar will restore the Republic. Instead, it just sets in motion events that culminate in Caesar's nephew/adopted son Octavian finally bringing down the Republic and becoming The Emperor.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Caesar pardons most of the leading senators who fought against him in the civil war (by contrast, had the Senate won, they planned to massacre Caesar's supporters). He ends up being murdered by the very men he pardoned. One of the assassins was even named in Caesar's will.
  • Non-Action Guy: As opposed to most other of the leading politicians of the era, Cicero is not a military man. He admits in Dictator that he is "too squeamish" to even watch others fight, much less fight himself. This sometimes makes him look bad and earns him a tongue-lashing from Quintus after Quintus, who unlike his brother fought at Pharsalus, learns that Cicero is giving up. See What the Hell, Hero? below.
    "What do you know of fighting," demanded Gnaeus Pompey, "you contemptible old coward?"
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Many characters, including Cicero, initially don't take Clodius seriously as a threat, assuming Lucullus will finish him off before he ever becomes a problem. This is a mistake.
  • Not So Stoic: Inverted with Cato's temper tantrums. Cicero jokes that he's always a perfect stoic until things go wrong. Yet after the disaster at Pharsalus he's the only one who remains perfectly calm and controlled.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Celer, as Tiro notes in his earliest appearance, is a lot cleverer than he seems. Pompey thinks he is cleverer than he seems, although it's not entirely clear whether he is.
  • Old Man Marrying a Child:
    • Pompey (47) marries Julius Caesar's daughter Julia (14). Cicero is disgusted, and views it as Caesar prostituting his own child for the sake of maintaining an alliance, and yet Tiro notes that she seems to genuinely love Pompey and is happy with the whole arrangement.
    • Years later, Cicero himself marries a 15-year-old girl when he's 60, solely because she's from a rich family and he's in desperate need of money. Predictably, it's a complete disaster - unlike Pompey he's extremely uncomfortable with the arrangement, mostly ignores his young wife or tries to avoid her, and ends up quickly divorcing her largely because he finds the whole situation so painfully awkward.
  • One-Steve Limit: Unavoidably averted due to the Roman habit of recycling the same small group of names.
    • It isn't obvious because characters are usually referred to by their more distinctive nomen (second name) or cognomen (third name), but Cicero, Crassus, Antony, Cato, Rufus, Lepidus and Brutus all share the same first name: Marcus. Caesar, Octavian, Verres, Hybrida and Cassius all have the first name Gaius. Hortensius, Catulus, Celer and Cicero's brother and nephew are all named Quintus.
    • Cicero's son is also named Marcus Tullius Cicero.
    • The story also has two men named Gaius Julius Caesar. One is the conqueror of Gaul who becomes dictator, and the other is his great nephew Octavian, who after being adopted in Caesar's will, also adopts his uncle's full name. He is still mainly referred to as Octavian though.
    • Invoked when Tiro says he will refer to Decimus Brutus as Decimus to avoid confusing him with his better known distant cousin, Marcus Junius Brutus.
    • Helvius Cinna is Torn Apart by the Mob looking to avenge Caesar's death when they mistake him for one of the assassins (also named Cinna).
  • Pet the Dog: Catilina congratulates Cicero on the birth of his son in such a way that, for a moment, he's almost likable.
  • Praetorian Guard: Caesar has one (and his nephew Octavian is the Real Life Trope Codifier for this), but after a jibe from Cicero he unwisely dismisses them shortly before his assassination.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: The Sybil's prophecy that Rome would be ruled by three, then two, then one and then none comes true.
  • The Purge: Antony, Octavian and Ledpius initiate one after they take power, targeting both their enemies and other men who just happen to be very rich. Cicero is among the victims.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Senate's armies under the command of the consuls and in alliance with Octavian inflict a heavy defeat on Antony at Mutina. It becomes a pyrrhic victory for Cicero and the Republic when both consuls die of their injuries in the aftermath. Both consular armies are subsequently taken over by Octavian, and things suddenly get much bleaker for the Republic.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Cicero gives two memorable ones—at Verres' trial in Imperium and his speech in the Senate in Lustrum where he confronts Catilina. Both are based on historical record.
    • Cicero is also on the receiving end of one from his brother Quintus after he abandons the Senate's cause following their defeat at Pharsalus.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica:
    • A common punishment for Roman politicians who get convicted of bribery and other misdeeds (or just make an enemy of the wrong person) is to be exiled somewhere outside of Italy. This happens to Verres, Hybrida and, at the end of the second novel, Cicero himself.
    • Cicero is also forced to spend a year as governor of Cilicia, one of Rome's easternmost provinces.
  • Redshirt Army: Pompey defeats the feared Mediterranean pirates in just seven weeks. As such, some characters openly question whether they were really as big a threat as they were made out to be.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Most of Caesar's actions throughout Lustrum amount to this, from covering his co-consul in human excrement to prevent him from vetoing a bill to having Cato dragged bodily from the Senate during an attempted filibuster.
    • Crassus betrays Catilina to Cicero and almost without pausing for breath asks for the glory of the military command against him.
  • Rousing Speech:
    • Antony delivers a major one at Caesar's funeral, goading the mob to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Caesar's assassins.
    • Averted in a big way in the third book. Cicero and the Senate recall the legions from Africa as their last-ditch defense against Octavian and Antony. Cicero gives a speech to the troops about Roman liberty and laws and freedoms. Tiro, watching the soldiers, observes that it has no effect on them whatsoever. The next day the African legions go over to Octavian, and the game is up.
    • There's a small amount of War Is Hell to explain this. Tiro notes the soldiers look half dead already and their indifference is portrayed sympathetically as a natural result of constant fighting both for and against the Republic.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!:
    • Crassus pretty much defines this trope.
    • Cato, who is personally rich and from a famous family, has much more freedom to oppose the likes of Pompey and Caesar than Cicero does; as a new man without great wealth, Cicero has to be careful to retain their goodwill.
  • Self-Made Man: Cicero is this, which both makes him attractive to the plebs and earns him the resentment of the Blue Blood aristocrats who wield so much power in Rome.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Hortensius is supposedly the king of this trope.
  • Sexless Marriage: Cicero and Terentia's marriage is implied to be this. At one point Cicero mentions that they no longer even share a bed. There are also hints that she is having an affair with Cicero's steward Philotimus.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing: When trying to seduce Cicero into defending her brother, Clodia drops her cloak and shows she has nothing on underneath.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Cassius is "pale and thin", according to Caesar. This is a shout-out to Julius Caesar and Caesar's description of Cassius's "lean and hungry look."
    • In Lustrum, a dead body is found in the river, and the investigation starts to unravel a much wider conspiracy. This is also the scenario that opens another Harris novel, Fatherland.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Harris wants you to know that the books are meticulously researched, although tries to work this in naturally. Occasionally he slips up.
    • Caesar's brilliance as a general is on full display during the civil war, constantly outmaneuvering his opponents and retaining the initiative. Finally, he routs Pompey's army at Pharsalus despite being outnumbered and on unfavorable ground.
  • Simple Country Lawyer: Crassus tries this in one Senate hearing. It works.
  • Slave Liberation: Tiro, himself a slave, buys Agathe's freedom in Lustrum. In Dictator, Cicero frees Tiro in recognition of his decades of service. It's an emotional moment for Tiro.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Lucullus and Hortensius, at least at first.
    • Pompey is painfully found out when battling Caesar in Greece.
    • Clodia as well. She is defeated very easily once Cicero decides to retaliate.
  • The Sociopath:
    • Tiro diagnoses Caesar as this after recounting how when Caesar heard of his chief engineer's death that he was relatively indifferent. Tiro remarks that he must have known the man for 10 years so he was appallingly cavalier and suggests that this "coldness of nature" was the reason for his success.
    • Catilina. He is a hot tempered aristocrat fond of human sacrifice and perfectly willing to kill women to cover up his conspiracies. His goals are ill thought out and haphazard and rely heavily on others doing the planning (weapons from Pompey, support from Crassus and Caesar etc.). He is also noted as very brave, possibly reckless, in battle.
    • Servilia is said to be as cold and ruthless as her lover Caesar. She is unmoved when informed of Caesar's death.
  • Stealing the Credit: Pompey has a habit of taking the credit for military victories that were largely won by other commanders. He claims to have defeated Spartacus, when in actuality it was Crassus who did that (Pompey's army just mopped up the survivors of the battle afterwards). Tiro notes that the defeat of Mithridates owed as much to Lucullus as Pompey; Pompey just managed to get appointed to the command when Rome was on the verge of victory.
  • Stress Vomit: Often happens to Cicero before giving an important speech.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Cicero rejects a possible marriage with Pompey's daughter, who is said to look a lot like her father.
    "Can you imagine," he said to me with a shudder, "waking up beside Pompey every morning?"
  • Successful Sibling Syndrome: Quintus has to deal with this. His years of pent-up resentment at playing second fiddle to his famous brother pour out during an argument and they don't speak for some time afterwards.
  • Suspicious Spending: Cicero, who is from a modestly wealthy family, raises eyebrows when he acquires a vastly expensive Big Fancy House on the Palatine after the end of his consulship. His enemies note, correctly, that he could only have afforded it through bribery.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: Caesar is stabbed 23 times by his assassins. In their haste to kill him, the conspirators inadvertently stab each other.
  • Third-Person Person:
    • Tiro reads from Caesar's account of the Gallic Wars, notes that Caesar refers to himself in the third person, and says "He writes of himself with wonderful detachment."
    • Pompey often refers to himself in the third person during conversations ("Pompey the great does not forget his friends!")
  • Title Drop:
    • Early in the first novel Tiro refers to "imperium", the power of life and death, given to men by the state.
    • And a "lustrum" is a Roman word for a period of five years; Lustrum deals with Cicero's consulship in 63 BC and the four years thereafter.
    • Lots of title drops in the third book as Caesar takes up the title of "dictator".
  • Took a Level in Badass: Several characters- Clodius, Rufus, Caesar, even Cicero himself, at the start of the first book.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: A torch-wielding mob goes on a rampage after Antony whips them into a fury with his speech at Caesar's funeral.
  • Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: Pompey making his Cincinnatus speech, which has been written down for him by Cicero. It actually works.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Pompey, who doesn't lift a finger to help Cicero get elected consul after Cicero got Pompey his special command under the Lex Gabinia. And again when Pompey does nothing to help Cicero avoid exile, after Cicero has been arguing for Pompey's bills in the Senate.
  • Unishment: After Milo is found guilty and exiled, Cicero sends him a copy of the speech he intended to give at his trial. Milo replies that he is glad that Cicero never read it:
    Milo: For otherwise I should not be eating such wonderful Massilian mullets.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Played with. Tiro repeatedly points out that he's trying to be honest about Cicero, regardless of whether it shows him in the best light. He has no such restraint with a couple of the characters whom he dislikes.
  • Villain Ball: This seems to happen to Clodius. After his exposure at the rites of the Good Goddess, he quickly turns from an unpredictable but harmless figure into the new face of the mob - which ultimately ends in gang war and his death. If he'd just apologised and left Rome when Cicero advised him to, he'd probably have got away with it.
    • Caesar as well. Having achieved everything he could possibly want and defeated all his enemies, it promptly goes straight to his head. Declaring A God Am I and taking Cleopatra to Rome, appointing people to fixed roles in the senate for the next 5 years aggravating friend and foe alike and finally removing his bodyguards after a subtle quip from Cicero.
  • Villainous Incest: Just about everyone thinks Clodius had sexual relations with his sister Clodia.
  • Villain Takes an Interest: Crassus blows Cicero away in Imperium by approaching him and offering him support in achieving everything he wants if he'll just take a leading role in altering Pompey's bill (to something probably more objectively reasonable). Cicero rejects him, firstly because it would mean breaking with Pompey, but mostly because he doesn't want to be obliged to Crassus for any positions he later achieves.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Verres starts out at this, bulletproof behind his influential friends and good name, while the only people prepared to speak against him are foreigners. Finding a way to expose him is what really launches Cicero's career.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: After spending most of his career trying to be the voice of reason and prevent civil war, during the last year of his career Cicero is vehemently opposing any compromise with Antony and insisting he must be utterly destroyed.
  • Visionary Villain: Cicero at one point claims that Caesar wants to smash the world and rebuild it in his own image, whereas most of the others are content to rule it. Caesar tells Cicero straight up that he won't settle for anything less than being the top man in Rome. For all that, Caesar's policies are designed to address genuine problems in Rome that many other characters are content to ignore. It's never entirely clear whether Caesar genuinely cares about the people, or whether they're just a stepping-stone on his route to the top.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: A drunk Antony vomits in the Senate house before going on a harangue against Cicero.
  • War for Fun and Profit: On their own authority, Caesar and Pompey both start or escalate wars with neighboring countries that benefit themselves enormously. Attempted with less success by Crassus and Hybrida.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Quintus launches into a righteously pissed speech at Cicero after finding out that Cicero has abandoned the cause of the Senate against Caesar, leaving Quintus hanging. They're estranged for some time, but eventually reconcile.
  • We Can Rule Together: Caesar offers Cicero a chance to become the fourth member of the Triumvirate. Cicero turns him down, and from then on is fighting a losing battle.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Hortensius, an important player in the first and second novels, disappears midway through the third.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: After several years as dictator, Tiro thinks that Caesar began going mad, responding to criticism with more severity, making more irrational decisions, and viewing himself as a god.
  • Women's Mysteries: The rituals of the "Good Goddess" (Bona Dea), which are female-only, to the extent that Terentia wears a cloak buttoned up to her neck to prevent Cicero from seeing her robe. A great scandal occurs when Clodius sneaks into the ceremony Disguised in Drag and is caught.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Caesar plays this for much of the second novel.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!: Caesar tries to dissuade Cicero with this. Twice.
  • You Just Told Me: Tiro notices that the weapons captured from Mithridates by Pompey's army are the same weapons found in the possession of the Catiline conspirators. They posit that Pompey was secretly arming the rebels so he would have an excuse to return to Italy with his army and defeat them. Later, Cicero casually mentions to Pompey that the conspirators were hiding weapons in the city. Pompey retorts "I know nothing about any weapons!"
    Cicero: He may be a great general, but he is a terrible liar.
  • Young Future Famous People:
    • Mark Antony is introduced as an 18-year-old hellraiser who hangs out with Clodius. The second time Antony pops up, two years later, all Tiro can remember is how many pimples Antony had.
    • Cicero meets an 11-year-old Cleopatra. She is visiting Rome with her father who is seeking Roman support in a power struggle at home.

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