Render Unto Caesar

Written by Gillian Bradshaw
Review by Pat Maynard

When Hemogenes, a wealthy, young Alexandrian businessman, travels to Rome during Augustus’s reign to collect a debt owed to his family by a powerful Roman counsel, he encounters a level of prejudice toward himself and his fellow Greeks that astounds him. Although many Romans enjoy imitating Hellenic ways, it quickly becomes apparent that Alexandrian Greeks are considered little better than dirt under the feet of most Roman citizens. Initially scoffed at by the Roman counsel, Hermogenes sees his problems begin escalating the harder he presses for repayment. To Hermogenes, who is often tempted to drop his quest as the level of violence increases, the debt’s satisfaction becomes more a matter of justice than one of money because he attributes the premature deaths of his beloved father and uncle directly to the counsel’s refusal to satisfy his long overdue obligation.

As Hermogenes doggedly pursues his suit in an environment filled with brutality and arrogance, his gentle nature and deep sense of humanity have a profound effect on many of those around him, including a female gladiator who eventually becomes his bodyguard and much more. As always, this author’s impeccable research is apparent, her characters finely honed and her storytelling mesmerizing – so much so that, after finishing the last page, it was a shock to find myself back in the present once again. Highly recommended!