Time, I think, for a little update on book progress. In truth I should have finished it by now, but I am -- I confess -- a couple of months behind. (I like to say "only" a couple of months behind.) The good news is that I am now getting to the period that I regularly teach and have much more at my finger tips than the Hannibalic War, which means less prep before I feel can start writing.
That said, I'm finding that I am getting to grips with things that I have tended to avoid for most of my life. The main theme of this chapter is how Rome operated abroad in the century or so before the assassination of Caesar. It is a period when Roman rule in the provinces has a very bad name, and the excesses of Gaius Verres in Sicily, Cicero's adversary in 70 BCE, tend to be taken to symbolise that. Verres may have been pretty much guilty as charged -- as is suggested by the fact that he scarpered into voluntary exile after the first round of the court proceedings. But Cicero (that may be him in the picture above) was certainly hyping his crimes for all it was worth in the published text of his speeches that we can still read (which Cicero circulated after Verres had fled, including ones he would have delivered if Verres had not done the bunk).
Anyway, what has struck me over the last couple of weeks is not only how corrupt and extortionate some Roman rule overseas must have been, but also what great lengths they were going to in order to control and punish that kind of behaviour.