by Joost Douma
Based on historical facts, Betrayal of a Republic: Memoirs of a Roman Matrona recounts the demise of the Roman Republic as seen through the eyes and reflections of Cornelia Africana, mother of the Gracchi brothers and a woman at the zenith of power and influence in the Republic.
At its peak as the sole superpower in the Mediterranean in the 1st century BCE, internal crisis gripped the Republic of Rome, generated by the breakdown of Senate leadership. The Republic had become a source of self-enrichment for the corrupt elites. Land grabs, financial scandals, corruption, intrigues, and electoral fraud plunged the Republic into a constitutional crisis. The Gracchi brothers tried to save the Republic, attempting to re-establish it as a union of free men by reclaiming public land for veterans and restoring the rule of law through an extensive legislative program. In a bold move, the eldest brother, Tiberius, succeeded in having his fellow-tribune impeached to break his veto, an unprecedented political act, which tore the Republic apart.
In her final years, an aging Cornelia looks back on her life and that of her sons who tried to save the Republic. The novel gives readers keen insight into the secret life of women who were politically active behind-the-scenes. It recounts a successful women’s revolt in 195 BC, with mass sit-downs at the Forum that resulted in greater social freedoms. The reader gets a rich and rare look at the rise of one of the Republic’s most politically influential women and the forces that helped to shape her extraordinary life. The story is even more compelling for the parallels it offers with current superpower politics, the rise of strongmen, financial scandals, the shrinking of the middle class, and questions about the future of our democracy.
Joost Douma studied classical Latin and Greek in high school and history and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. He is the founder of the Dutch National Science Center, NeMo, in Amsterdam. His extensive research for Betrayal of a Republic was conducted over a nine-year period, at relevant sites including Spain, Italy, and Turkey.
Imprint: Addison & Highsmith Publishers
240 pp., 6 x 9 in (229mm x 152mm)
Date of Publication: October 1, 2020