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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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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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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