Publisher: Leone Editore
Publication date: September 17, 2015
In 60 b.C., Lucius Calpurnius Piso’s villa is still far from being finished, yet it already has something special to it. It is not its statues, nor the view to the gentle sloping shape of Mount Vesuvius, but rather its library – managed by the epicurean philosopher Philodemus and the poet Lucretius, his pupil.
While time seems to stand still for the rest of the world, Calpurnia’s life is rushing toward her destiny: she is Lucius Piso’s only daughter and he places in her every hope of future wealth for their “gens”.
After all, alliances must be strengthened through marriage; it is the ways of the world. Calpurnia knows that and accepts this fact with all the doubts and passion one may harbour at the age of eighteen.
Her father encourages her, pointing out that she will be married to an extraordinary husband. Whatever else one can accuse him of, Julius Caesar is surely no dull, commonplace man.
Raised among philosophers and poets, yet according to tradition, Calpurnia adapts to what her new role requires of her, relying on her wisdom and intelligence.
As history takes its course, the illusions of youth are measured against reality, which in her case will take the form of Caesar’s departure for the long Gallic war, Julia’s tragic death, the civil war, and the struggle against malicious gossip.
However, she will also experience a sort of motherly love for young Octavius – later adopted by Caesar as the perfect son he longed for – and her heartstrings will be tweaked by little Caesarion, Caesar’s natural son born to Cleopatra: a child as beautiful and perfect as unlucky.
All these experiences lead Calpurnia to the conviction that she has to act as if Caesar were constantly there by her side, even to act as his shadow in Rome – the shadow cast by Caesar’s dazzling light.
Calpurnia’s gentle and determined disposition, along with her natural perceptiveness intensified by loneliness, helps her make her own way through hardship. Rome is torn apart by civil wars, and a new empire is ready to rise from the ashes of the dying republic. There will be a moment when Caesar listens carefully to Calpurnia’s advice, finding in her his only true friend, the only person he can trust. Though the ending is known, someone may still come by the sea and whisper his truth.