Ode to a Banker

Book Cover, Ode to a Banker

Rome. July – August AD 74. Falco is to give a poetry recital with Rutilus Gallicus, and Caesar Domitain is expected. Aurelius Chrysippus, a wealthy Greek banker and vanity publisher, introduces the event and is found dead the next day. With Rubellus absent, and the vigiles busy, Petro hires Faco to resolve the murder.

Families and backgrounds, past history and present day relationships inform many parts of this narrative, both in Falco’s family and Chrysippus’s family; Chrysippus had divorced and remarried. His first wife still operated their bank with a freedman, one Lucrio.

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Time to Depart

Book Cover, Time to Depart

Two weeks in October, AD72 …

Falco has just returned from Palmyra; Petro is expelling Balbinus Pius (a master criminal) from Rome. Falco tags along at Petro’s request to witness the expulsion. Afterwards, Petro will aid Falco in transporting Geminus’s glass shipment to the Emporium, the landing place sea freight.

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Last Act in Palmyra

Book Cover, Last Act in Palmyra

AD72, and Anacrites has ducked a fact-gathering mission for Vespasian, and sends Falco … whom he promptly betrays to a camel driver (Falco’s pseudonym for a nabataean chief minister) before he departs. Ah, this enmity between Anacrites and Falco. Will it ever end?

The scene is Petra, Nabataea, an independent kingdom and trade centre which somewhat liberally taxes goods en route and so attractive to Roma as a trading partner and future annexure to the Empire. Falco and Helena Justina are on a fact gathering mission for Vespasian. Falco has other reasons – he is on the lookout for a missing water organist, one Sophrona. He’ll be paid if he finds his quarry.

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Poseidon’s Gold

Book Cover, Poseidon's Gold

March-April, AD72, our man Falco is back in Rome, complete from his mission for the Emperor Vespasian in Germania. It is evening in Rome, cold and wet, and the sixth-floor flat on the Aventine has been broken into and occupied by squatters. Pigeons have taken advantage of the hole in the roofing, and of course, the rain is dripping through … Falco, Helena Justina and the six year old ward, Augustinilla, cannot bed down for the night. Off to Ma’s where Falco finds the centurion Censorinus (of his late brother’s Legion) in residence, awaiting his arrival. Censorinus is given the order of the boot into the pouring rain; Falco suggests he may obtain lodging at Flora’s, the local caupona, an inn where wine and ready dressed provisions are sold. There might be rooms available upstairs, suggests Falco.

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The Iron Hand of Mars

Book Cover, The Iron Hand of Mars

In Germania

Roman history in Europe provides the setting for Falco and his tasks in this novel. Germany is three: Germania Superior, Germania Libera, and Germania Inferior. During this era of the novels, Rome has provinces, governors, legions and forts dotted all over what we now call Europe. But it was not without clashing of steel, conflict, battles and rebellions.

This novel focuses on events in the region of Germania Superior and Germania Libera, with the Rhine River being somewhat a line of demarcation between civilisation and barbarity. The swathe of territory traversed scopes from Arles to Vienna, Lugdunum (Lyon) to Argentoratum (Strasbourg), and on up via Morguntiacum (Mainz), Castrum ad Confluentes (Koblenz), Bonna (Bonn), Agrippinensium (Cologne), Novaesium (Neuss), and to Vitera, (Xanten), an unusually named town which still holds this name today, along with an archaeological park full of restored Roman Artefacts.

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Venus in Copper

Book Cover, Venus in Copper

In Venus in Copper, Falco is exposed to corruption in Rome. Well, Rome was corrupt, anyway, say many, and some would not enter Rome without fear and trembling. Others chanted the Gayatri Mantra for protection. Corruption, you ask? Just look at the property and real estate industry … houses burn, houses fall down, houses are under multiple mortgages. There has been no change, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. So we venture carefully into Venus in Copper, wherein Falco meets landlords and their thugs.

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Astrology and Obesity

Obesity is a matter of public health concern. The World Health Organisation says that obesity is a disease. What is obesity, what drives obesity and what does Vedic Astrology have to say about obesity? What is our body, what is the constitution of the body and how is this determined. There are many questions surrounding obesity and the cultural signals which give rise to this. In this article we look at some matters surrounding this topic.

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Conversations with the Master ~ What benefit accrues from reliving problems?

On this day, we take up an important question explored by our seeker, about memories from the past, and the ups and downs of life. Ups and downs are inevitable for all, for we are crossing the ocean of life, and there are always waves on the ocean. Some waves are high, some calm and some are low; some come crashing down upon us, and other waves lift us to joyful, exhilarating heights. Today our seeker asks The Master about reliving problems from the past.

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One Virgin Too Many

Book Cover, One Virgin Too Many

Much of this book has been given over to descriptions of varia priesthoods, Deified Emperors, and the rites of the Arval Brothers and Vestal Virgins. What was their purpose and function within the state? Why have they been included as illustrations of the life of the state on the Palatine with Vespasian taking direct intervention, as described by Rutilius Gallicus?

AD 74, late May. Falco has just arrived home from Lepcis Magna in Tripoli with dire news to deliver to his sister. Vespasian and his Great Census interrupt. Next day, Falco crosses his bridge of the unknown and delivers the news. A little 6 year old girl, strong candidate for election as a Vestal Virgin, approaches Falco with her suspicions that someone is trying to kill her. Falco (recently raised to equestrian status by Vespasian, and appointed Procurator of the Sacred Geese and Poultry) has had enough for one day. He declines to take the girl as a client and sends her home. An act which was to cause him quite some work.

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Two for the Lions

Book Cover, Two for the Lions

This novel opens with the startling perspective that Falco and partner are auditing businessmen whose trade is slaughter. Of wild animals and humans. Their stock in trade was measured as units of mass murder. We’ll take a look at this and its impact on the humanity of Falco and Helena Justina.

Meanwhile, Emperor Vespasian is confused that there are no monies in the imperial treasury. (An unfavourable balance of trade was the culprit.) In order to beef up the imperial statutory reserves Vespasian engages Falco and Partner to set matters aright with the Great Census of Rome.

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Three Hands in the Fountain

Book Cover, Three Hands in the FountainAugust-October,AD73, Falco is back in Rome after his expedition to Baetica, and is having a drink with Petro, his long time friend from his days in the Second Augusta. Petro is suffering durance vile, away from his wife, Arria Silvia. Petro is going into partnership with Falco; Ma (Junilla Tacita) has other ideas and wants her convalescent Anacrites to team up with her son!

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A Dying Light in Corduba

Book Cover, Last Act in Palmyra

Falco is inveigled by the Chief Clerk Laeta into attending a dinner for the Society of Olive Oil Producers in Baetica. This is just a front for select persons to eat well, drink well, rub shoulders with the top echelon and watch titillating dancers. Falco is aware that Laeta is setting him up. However, there is an unexpected problem with violence towards some attending. One is killed, the other, well, he is close to Hades, and as Falco puts it, lying on his pallet with his fare for Charon in his hand. (Charon took the newly dead across the river Acheron or Styx if they could pay for the ride.)

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Marcus Didius Falco

Falco Novels

The Falco Novels are the work of UK author Lindsey Davis, first appearing in 1990. To date, there are 20 novels in this series. Falco is Marcus Didius Falco, a private informer (delator is the proper term, Latin) working in Rome after his discharge from the Roman Army, during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian.

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