by Scott Savitz
Washington, D.C.: Privately published, 2020. Pp. 130.
Personae, sources, author’s note. $6.13 paper. ISBN: 979-8685341860
A “Factional” Look at the Catilinarian Conspiracy
The Fall of the Republic: A Novella of Ancient Rome based on Actual Events, by Scott Savitz. Washington, D.C.: Privately published, 2020. Pp. 130. Personae, sources, author’s note. $6.13 paper, ISBN 979-8-6853-4186-0; e-editions available.
We normally don’t review fiction. But from time to time a novel has come along that offers an accurate, albeit fictionalized account of an historical event, such as Clouds Above the Hill or The End of Sparta, works which can be of value to the layman looking to find out what happened, and may even be of interest to the more serious scholar. Such is the case with The Fall of the Republic, about the Catilinarian Conspiracy of 63 BCE, one of several events during the final decades of the Roman Republic that pushed it to its collapse.
Dr. Scott Savitz, a defense researcher in the Washington, DC area, draws on Sallust’s near-contemporary Conspiracy of Catiline and, of course, Cicero’s famous Catiline Orations, as well as other ancient sources. In writing this book he has conflated some characters, to reduce the cast, and omitted some incidents marginal to the main thread of the development of the conspiracy and the causes of its failure. In addition, Savitz adjusts the story a little to make it more accessible to the modern reader, focusing on the political and societal ills that nearly enabled the conspiracy to succeed, such as the extreme inequality and the inability of free Romans to compete with slave labor, that led to the increasing impoverishment of the common citizens.
In effect, Savitz gives us an introduction to the causes and purposes of the conspiracy, a look at the roles of the principal actors, notably Catiline and Cicero, but also Caesar and others, explains how the plot came to be uncovered, how it was nipped, and the consequences.
This makes The Fall of the Republic a valuable introduction to the subject for the lay reader unfamiliar with Roman history.