The Blog August 25, 2010

Learning is Fun

How historically accurate is this comic about Julius Caesar conquering vampires?  A historian gives the answer in his review here:

On that note, this seems like a good time to mention some of my favorite books I came across while researching the comic.

Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome by Lesley Adkins and Roy A. Adkins was my main resource.  This book contains an abundance of useful information but won’t take 500 pages and 500 naps to get through.  Pretty much any question I had, this book had the answer to.

The Assassination of Julius Caesar by Michael Parenti gives a great overview of the events in Roman history and Caesar’s life which led up to his assassination.  Parenti suggests that the true reason for Caesar’s murder lay in him being a champion of the people and seeking to take away wealth and power from the aristocracy instead of the more traditional explanation of Brutus slaying him to protect the dissolution of the Republic and Caesar’s supposed desire to be king.  The truth, I suspect, lies somewhere in the middle.

The Twelve Caesars by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus is one of, if not the, first official historical account of Julius Caesar’s life, as well as the lives of Octavian/Augustus and the other first dozen Caesars.

Life of Antony and Life of Cicero by Plutarch.  These guys really did not like each other very much.  If I remember correctly, in the end, Antony cut off Cicero’s hands and had them nailed to the rostra in the Forum.  Cicero was certainly a smart guy, but he was definitely involved in some shady dealings, and even though he didn’t join the assassins in killing Caesar, I’m not sure he was quite as noble as legend would have you believe.

Ancient Rome: An Introductory History by Paul A. Zoch.  An unbiased, solid, sweeping history.  I particulary recall it being useful for information about the founding of Rome and the slaying of the king Tarquin by Brutus’s ancestor which ushered in the Roman Republic.  History is not without a sense of irony.

Dacia by Parvan.  It’s really difficult to find information about the ancient Dacians, so this book was a Godsend.  In an interesting example of sychronicity, the Dacian king Burebista was assassinated the same year as Caesar.  Of course, that reality doesn’t exist in the timeline of Ides of Blood.  If I ever get the chance to do a prequel, I’ll explain the connection between King Burebista and Ides of Blood’s protagonist, Valens, a.k.a. Iacob of the Burebista.

Zalmoxis: The Vanishing God by Victor Kernbach.  I wish I had been able to find a copy of this book to purchase, but I found one at the UCLA Library.  Though I graduated from USC (who did not have the book, shame on them–where does all that tuition money go?  Oh, right.  Buildings.), my wife was a student at UCLA at the time, so she got it for me.  Anyway, great information about the Dacian religion and their two main gods: Zalmoxis and Gebeleizis.  Unlike most cultures, Zalmoxis, the god of death and immortality, is a hero in their mythology.

The Vampire in Lore and Legend by Montague Summers.  This dude must have been a really interesting priest.  He collected all kinds of information about the occult, witches and whatnot.  The book’s a little stodgy, but there’s some great, osbscure folklore and old wives’ tales that introduces much of the vampire mythos we now take for granted.  It also introduced me to the Greek vrykolaka, which I used for the name of the vampyre rebellion, and the Roman lamiae, which used to play a much larger role in an earlier draft of Ides of Blood but ended up being restricted to a brief appearance in the gladiator battle in issue 3.