The German Question In Literature:

You may have hit upon a very central conflict in European history. Germany was not largely occupied by the Romans and from the time of the Romans you have the “German question”. The Romans wrote about it themselves. There is a lost work by Pliny the Elder, the author of the Natural History, probably called the Germania, and I make much of this in one of my novels. His nephew, Pliny the Younger, wrote about the subject, too. And Pliny the Younger’s friend, Tacitus, wrote the only surviving work on the subject entitled the Germania for sure. Tacitus’s work was the subject of the fascinating audio book I listened to on the subject at the beginning of last year.

Tacitus’s Germania has been a subject of discussion for the past two thousand years. It is the earliest work we have on the habits and customs of the early pagan Germans which emphasizes their warlike qualities and the “German question”. The Romans themselves were scared of them. No wonder! During the ugly Battle of the Teutoburg Forest Roman legionaries were captured in wooden cages and burned alive in the forest, sacrificed to pagan gods.

Richard Wagner during the 19th century made much of this ancient and medieval heritage in his operas. Heinrich Himmler was later to try to seize upon this material as the “origin” of what he called the Nazi identity.

I have looked up various works on Roman Britain on Amazon and curiously enough the British archaeologists have all noted that the British attitude about Rome differs from the attitude of France and Germany, and this influences their attitude about the “German question”. In France they celebrate Vercingetorix from Caesar’s Gallic Wars. He is supposed to be a national hero in France. In Germany they celebrate Herman the German, or Arminius. In Britain they celebrate the Romans. As many have noted, Britain seems to take on the identity of Rome itself. It all comes from the days of the British Empire and Imperial Britain. Nobody else on the Continent has anything like this and so recently, too! They look dubiously upon rebels against Rome such as Vercingetorix and Arminius.

It has also been said that the British have a better attitude about preserving ruins than they do in Italy. So the Roman ruins in Britain are better preserved than their Italian counterparts. You can get a better feel for the Roman world there including all those villas and mosaic floors that are much talked about.

Cheops Books LLC has two upcoming works about the “German question”. The concern Roman Britain and the ancient Germans battling the Romans: Pliny: A Novel and Caesar’s Legions, both works in the Edward Ware Thrillers at War Series.

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Did Pliny’s House Look Like The Getty?

Pliny the Elder obviously lived in what we would call a Governor’s House in Roman Trier. What did such a place look like? None of the original Roman villas survives to this day intact, not in Trier, not in Italy, and not in Great Britain. In such places you don’t usually have more than a few standing columns or perhaps a floor full of mosaics to give you a clue of its former grandeur.

Probably the best example of such a villa nowadays exists in a place that Romans never visited and Romans never dreamed about. Such a villa has been painstakingly reconstructed on the California coast, land of dreams and elaborate reconstructions such as Disneyland and Hollywood.

It is no mere fantasy. In fact, it is an elaborate reconstruction of the villa of Calpurnius Piso, the father-in-law of Julius Caesar and father of Caesar’s last wife, Calpurnia, the one with the dreams and nightmares in Shakespeare’s play. It would be very similar to anything that Pliny would have owned. Both men were intellectuals of their day. Calpurnius Piso was a Stoic philosopher. Pliny the Elder was the author of the Natural History, the first of all encyclopedias in the western tradition.

This California villa was reconstructed by John Paul Getty, the billionaire who had a hobby of collecting Greek and Roman antiquities on a large scale. He wanted to build a place to house them. The Getty Villa opened in 1974. The Los Angeles Times interviewed John Paul Getty. Getty said: “It is fortunate that the United States has one ancient private building which is authentic in spirit. One could say go to Pompeii and Herculaneum and see Roman villas the way they are now — then go to Malibu and see the way they were in ancient times.”

Pliny also owned a villa on the seacoast along the Bay of Naples, so this comparision seems appropriate. It is inspirational to think that Pliny strolled through his peristylium and viewed the classical sculptures you find at the Getty.

Pliny the Elder is a character in two upcoming volumes of the Edward Ware Thriller Series: Old Faithful Plot and Pliny: A Novel.

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Pliny: A Novel Has A New Cover:

In Pliny: A Novel the grandson of the hero of Augustus: A Novel, Caius Antonius — who is also an ancestor of the hero of the Edward Ware Thriller Series, Colonel Sir Edward Ware — is working for Pliny the Elder in 79AD. Pliny is the Roman governor of Germany and is residing in Trier on the Moselle River. Suddenly a German warrior attacks the governor’s residence and throws a warning into his reflecting pond. It is payback time for the Romans. The Germans want revenge.

The Germans kicked the Romans out of their province in 9AD in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. But Germanicus returned five years later to make the Germans pay. What will happen next? That is up to Caius to discover, or the German warriors may push Pliny and the Romans out of Germany all together. This time they may even follow them all the way back to Italy in Pliny: A Novel, part 2 of Augustus: A Novel, coming soon from Cheops Books, LLC. It is the latest book in the Edward Ware Thriller Series.

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Has Pliny The Elder Been Re-Discovered?

In the early 1980s the excavation of Herculaneum, sister city to Pompeii, was excavated. A large group of skeletons was found in a boat shed facing the sea as if they were attempting to escape but ran out of time.

Just how they may have been planning to escape is knowledge provided to us by the writings of an ancient Rome author named Pliny the Younger who wrote our only surviving eyewitness account of the Vesuvius eruption. He claimed that his more famous uncle, Pliny the Elder, was going to rescue these unfortunate escapees. How so? Pliny the Elder was the admiral of a Roman fleet stationed at Misenum, north of Naples, on August 24, 79AD, the day Vesuvius erupted. His nephew says he was curious to observe the volcano erupting from close up. He had wide ranging scientific interests and was the author of Pliny’s Natural History, the first encyclopedia in western history. Supposedly he had gotten word from friends that they needed to be resuced and he took off with his fleet to rescue them, leaving his teenage nephew behind to write for the ages.

Now Italian scientists are trying to date and identify the remains of a man found in such a rescue boat and hope they have discovered Pliny the Elder himself. It sounds far fetched but interesting nevertheless. It would be nice to have a reconstructed drawing of Pliny based on his skeleton since no sculpture portraits survive from antiquity.

Pliny the Elder and his family are the subjects of two historical thrillers which Cheops Books LLC is about to publish. The Roman statesman and scientist appears in Old Faithful Plot and Vesuvius Plot. In Old Faithful Plot Pliny is the subject of a time tunnel manhunt on the part of Adolf Hitler. The dictator thinks that the ancient Roman threatens the German people. In Vesuvius Plot as the governor of Germany Pliny must fight off the hordes of German tribes.

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Promotions for The Old Faithful Plot:

One thing to consider about The Old Faithful Plot: I think that if the news media wasn’t so obsessed with the North Korean leader he would do a lot less harm. No wonder he does and says such wild things. That is the way to attract attention. But I am tempted to take advantage of the situation as a way to promote one of my books. I have a thriller based on a totally fictional premise that Hitler is threatening Edward and Dora that if they do not hand over the Lawrence maps, key to world domination, he will blow up Yellowstone National Park. He has sent the von Wessels to detonate Old Faithful geyser and blow it sky high hoping to awaken the super volcano that can dump ash across America. I was thinking of relating the two and having a Facebook Party about this end of the world stuff.

I have actually already written and edited the novel The Old Faithful Plot last year and this year. I am about ready to publish it. The Old Faithful Plot named after the Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park of course. The geyser becomes a kind of volcano. A time tunnel is discovered behind it a la Journey to the Center of the Earth style. Helga and Herr von Wessel go back to ancient Rome to assassinate the writer who first badmouthed the Germans, Pliny the Elder. Hitler wants to correct the reputation of Germans throughout history and get unified sooner so that the Germans can win, not lose, WW1. He wants to change history itself. But you see the time tunnel sequence is in a nightmare that Dora has. It is a nightmare sequence and so not real. The main text is about the plot to blow up the park and ignite the supervolcano that will bury America in ash.

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Pliny The Elder’s Trier: As Seen By The Germans

These photos suggest the Trier of Pliny the Elder in 79 AD. None of these buildings or monuments actually come from that era, though. Trier was founded in 16BC and was initially called the City of Augusta Treverorum, or the “City of Augustus in the Land of the Treveri”. By the time of Pliny’s tenure as the Roman governor there the town was about 95 years old — almost one century. The monuments at that point were about to be replaced with later ones that have survived to the present day. Some of these statues and gardens were even built as late as the Renaissance but in a classical style. In other words, we can only imagine what Pliny the Elder’s Governor’s Palace and Palace Gardens in ancient Trier must have looked like. When the authors of the book, Vesuvius Plot, visited Trier, they were looking for inspiration to recreate the life and times of Pliny. These statues, gardens, baths, bridges, and city walls and gates come as close as anything we are likely to find in the future.

During the scenes in the historical thriller when the German tribes attack Pliny in the Governor’s Palace in Trier, imagine them attacking in this classical setting with the reflecting pond surrounded by classical statues and gardens cut in precise geometric form. Pliny overcomes the tribes and tricks them with this supreme sense of order which is the hallmark of the author of the world’s first encyclopedia, Pliny’s Natural History. He fights battles with the same order with which he lives and works. He overcomes the barbarians who tried to push the Romans out of Germany only several decades before in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, which forms the subject of another Edward Ware Thrillers at War novel, the Cherusci Plot. His right hand man in the grandson of the Roman who drew the maps for the Emperor Augustus in the time of the Teutoburg Forest, Caius Antonius.

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Two Mediterranean Cruises That Dora And Edward Would Like:
Dora and Edward would want to visit Rome and Venice for certain and Gibraltar thrown in would not be a bad addition. So we would recommend that they sign up for the Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2 50th anniversary cruise Q729 offered by Cunard Lines this autumn starting on September 8. Not only does the Mediterranean cruise stop in Venice which is a must see for the couple who spent so many fretful hours there fighting Hitler, it also stops in Gibraltar as a last stop before reaching Southampton and England once again. Edward and Dora would enjoy taking a motor launch across the Venetian lagoon. They might even revisit the beach at the Lido where they spent some nervous hours at the famous hotel trying to figure out how to escape the island. Dora eventually hired a private yacht to take her, her husband, and her daughter to Paris to meet Winston Churchill at the Ritz Hotel.
Another possible Mediterranean cruise for the well-heeled, well-traveled couple might be a second Cunard offering for late this summer. This cruise is also aboard the Queen Elizabeth, the newest offering of the Cunard Line which ought to be overly familiar to Dora and bring back memories of her time on the Lusitania in 1915. This cruise is aptly named Mediterranean Highlights. This cruise stops in Citavecchia, the new port for Rome now that Ostia has silted up. They can take a tour and explore the haunts of Edward’s long-ago ancestors in the time of the late Republic and early Empire. They might even visit the Forum on a bus tour or on a romantic horse and buggy ride or perhaps via the Roma Train from the cruise port. They could gawk at the House of Augustus on Palatine Hill where Edward’s ancestor once dined with the first Emperor of Rome while discussing the rebellious Germans who were to do in Augustus’s legions in 9AD.
At another port of call in Naples they can visit the Vesuvius volcano that lends its name to one of the historical thrillers in the Edward Ware Thrillers at War Series, the Vesuvius Plot. They can go ashore and visit Herculaneum and/or Pompeii, very nearby Pliny the Elder’s villa. Why Pliny the Elder? Find out how the great Roman writer is tied into the series by reading the upcoming Old Faithful Plot and the Vesuvius Plot soon.

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Old Faithful Plot: Portal To The Center Of The Earth
Adolf Hitler tears up the Paris Peace Treaty that ended World War 1. He and the National Socialist Party of Germany refuse to pay reparations to France anymore. Germany does not owe them anything for the last war. Hitler wishes that he could change history and make sure that Germany never lost the Great War to begin with.
In fact he deplores the whole scheme of western history where Huns were disliked and thought suspicious. He thinks the name of Germany was taken in vain all too many times. He researches where it all went wrong. He traces it back to 9AD when the Germans expelled the Romans from Germany forever and made them draw a line at the Rhine River by winning the Battle of the Teutonburg Forest. But that did not stop Roman writers such as Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, and Tacitus from penning diatribes against the uncivilized German tribes. Hitler thinks that is an unfair badge of shame that ever since Germany has carried through history.
If only he could travel through time to the source of all this agitation, Pliny the Elder, by far the most influential Latin writer, and shut him up before his works got a chance to be passed down through the generations. True his work the Germania was not to survive to modern times. But it was influential in the past, and he wanted to stop it from being read at all.
He discovers a portal through time in a modern volcanic field and seeks to send his agents, the von Wessels, back into the past to snatch the Germania from Pliny the Elder at the moment of the eruption of Vesuvius since all volcanoes and all volcanic eruptions seem to be linked. Pliny the Elder reputedly died in the eruption, but who knew if historic legends were true? Hitler instructs his agents to make sure that the author of the Natural History and a work on the Germans is dead by assassinating him. Also he instructs the von Wessels to bump off his nephew Pliny the Younger who also defames the Germans and his best friend Tacitus who was to write the Germania which must not survive into modern times. Three in one blow would be the best thing.
Will Hitler succeed in his plot? Find out in the upcoming historical thriller, the Old Faithful Plot, soon to be published by Cheops Books, LLC.

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Tariq Ibn Ziyad: The History of the Pillars of Hercules
Originally captured in 711 AD and fortified by Tariq Ibn Ziyad, the Moorish invader of Spain, Gibraltar didn’t belong to Spain again until 1462. (Before that it must have been Roman. Remember the Pillars of Hercules?) That was only thirty years before Granada fell and Columbus sailed for the New World. It belonged to Spain from 1462 to 1711, less than three hundred years. The British captured it in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession. So the British have held Gibraltar longer than the Spanish ever did. At the end of the war the Treaty of Utrecht ceded Gibraltar to the British. Then during the Great Siege of Gibraltar, the French and Spanish unsuccessfully tried to take it back from 1779 to 1783. The same Treaty of Paris that gave the US its independence confirmed that Gibraltar would still belong to the British. In 1830 Gibraltar was made a British Crown Colony. They adopted a new constitution for Gibraltar in 1969. Spain closed the border between Gibraltar and Spain from 1969 to 1985. All residents of Gibraltar were granted British citizenship in 1981. So you see this sovereignty dispute has been going on for quite awhile. The Spanish never give up. I don’t think they are about ready to give up either.
You say Franco organized a smooth transition to democracy, and he was so enlightened. But one of my relatives visited Spain in 1972 before the end of Franco and told tales. Did you ever visit Franco’s Spain? Did any of your relatives? It didn’t seem so enlightened from what I heard. For one thing Franco dictated your itinerary. You could not go on any tour outside Madrid without visiting the Valley of the Fallen to commemorate the Spanish Civil War. Everywhere you went you were accompanied by guards. Soldiers marched outside your hotel and you couldn’t go anywhere without their permission. My aunt said that you weren’t even allowed to speak to the Spanish people outside the hotel at all. She claimed that she felt uncomfortable being there. A tour guide at the Prado in Madrid told her that line about the smooth transition to democracy after Franco’s death under the King Juan Carlos who would have full control until then. She scoffed and said that she wondered when Spain had ever been democratic BEFORE that, so what were they converting back to? Spain had no idea what democracy was.
Spain is the repressive regime that wants Gibraltar back, not the enlightened state that you think it is.
Located at the ancient Pillars of Hercules at the western entrance to the Mediterranean, Gibraltar is one of those exotic locales that form the backdrop of the Edward Ware Thrillers at War novels published by Cheops Books LLC. Edward and Dora visit Gibraltar in Hitler’s Agent. It is also mentioned by Pliny the Elder in the Vesuvius Plot. The famous apes of Gibraltar are mentioned again by Pliny the Elder in Old Faithful Plot along with many other infamous locales.

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In Pursuit of Pliny the Elder: The Port Of Ostia

The modern port city of Citavecchia is far different from the ancient Roman port of Ostia, which is much closer to the city of Rome. On his trips around the Roman World by sea Pliny the Elder would have come to Ostia often. Ostia is an often neglected site among tourists but apparently you can get as good an idea about life in ancient Rome at Ostia as you can in either Rome or the more famous ancient city of Pompeii. Why? No one else goes there! And crowds are prohibitive. It might be easier to imagine the author of the Natural History sailing off here than in more southern ports. He probably left from here to sail off to his governorship in Trier, the administrative center for the province of Germania, or Germany. So you can look for a special scene where Pliny the Elder and his entourage disembark in Ostia to keep their dinner date with the Emperor Tiberius before heading off to his villa along the coast near Herculaneum and Pompeii, which gives it name to the Cheops Books, LLC historical thriller, the Vesuvius Plot.

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