Review Conspirata

Selasa, 06 Desember 2011

Conspirata (Cicero #2)

by Robert Harris, Femmy Syahrani (Goodreads Author) (Translator)

“Kata-kata adalah senjata, dan tak ada orang yang lebih piawai mengerahkan kata-kata daripada Cicero.”

Dibutakan oleh ambisi.

Dirayu oleh kekuasaan.

Dihancurkan oleh Roma.

Roma, 63 SM. Di kota yang berada di ambang masa kekaisaran besar, tujuh orang berebut kekuasaan. Cicero adalah konsul, Caesar pesaingnya yang muda dan bengis, Pompeius jenderal terbesar republik, Crassus orang terkaya, Cato fanatik politik, Catilina psikopat, dan Clodius playboy ambisius.

Kisah tokoh-tokoh sejarah ini—persekutuan dan pengkhianatan, kekejaman dan rayuan, kegeniusan dan kebusukan—berjalin kelindan dalam kisah epik ini. Penuturnya Tiro, budak yang menjadi sekretaris kepercayaan Cicero yang cerdik, humanis, dan kompleks. Dia tahu semua rahasia majikannya —yang menempatkannya pada posisi berbahaya.

Dari penemuan mayat seorang anak yang dimutilasi, melalui hukuman mati dan pengadilan penuh skandal, hingga pengerahan gerombolan rakyat Romawi yang brutal, buku ini merupakan perenungan tentang godaan dan kengerian kekuasaan yang tak lekang masa.

“Penulis yang menyajikan ketegangan seperti Alfred Hitchcock bergaya sastra.”Nelson Mandela, Guardian

Gramedia Pustaka Utama 2011

Saya: Memilih buku ini setelah membaca sinopsisnya: tentang Romawi dan sejumlah orang terkenal yang melegenda yang selama ini saya baca dalam buku sejarah dan buku filsafat. Buku ini penting dibaca oleh mereka yang menyukai Cicero.

I'm on page 13 of 512 of Conspirata: 63SM, dua hari sebelum pelantikan Marcus Tullius Cicero sebagai Konsul Roma, mayat seorang anak diangkat dari sungai Tiberis, di dekat gudang kapal milik armada perang republik. Magistratus, C. Oktavius memanggil Cicero. Cicero datang ditemani sekretarisnya, Tiro--seorang budak yang pintar luar biasa. Mayat bocah 12 tahun itu digorok, dibacok, dikeluarkan isi perutnya. Menurut C. Oktavius, "Anak ini kurban manusia."

Kemper: This is a story of a gifted orator who is legally elected to lead his country during a time of great crisis, but faces incredible opposition from powerful people who use a variety of dirty tricks and propaganda techniques to enrage mobs of stupid people to subvert the law and government so they can seize power for themselves.

Oh, and it’s set in ancient Rome. I wonder why it seems so familiar today?

Robert Harris second novel about Cicero uses Roman intrigue and power plays as the back drop for a really interesting and fast paced book that reads like a political thriller . The story is told from the viewpoint of Tiro, Cicero’s slave and personal secretary. Tiro actually invented a form of shorthand that gave us symbols like ’&’ and ‘etc.’, and he wrote a biography of Cicero that was used by a lot of scholars, but was eventually lost during the fall of the Roman Empire.

Harris makes ancient Rome very relatable and makes you understand the culture and politics while not getting bogged down in details. He’s got a knack for making all of the historical figures really come alive, especially Cicero and Julius Caesar. Even though I know how this story is going to end, Harris has kept me on the edge of my seat for this trilogy about Cicero, and I can’t wait for the third book

Collenn: Well I was very excited to see this book and that Imperium was not meant to be standalone and is instead first in a series (going to guess that there might be one or most likely two more books left to go), since my main complaint with Imperium was that I wanted more. It took me a while to get into this one, the sequel, which is unusual for me when it comes to Robert Harris.

Not sure what it was that mildly irked me--I think he was taking steps to humanize Tiro more and make him a character than just straight up narrator, but it came on a little too evident (Agathe parts). That's a minor issue and I guess the book lags for most of the beginning and a good chunk of the middle because not a whole lot happens. Just Cicero trying to maneuver his way through Roman politics and gather evidence, so interesting but not edge of your seat suspense.

Harris has harder material to work with than say Robert Graves, since Claudius was looking back over the course of decades, and this Cicero series is compressed into a few years. I enjoyed this though and will happily read the rest of the series when they come out

Jon: This is by far Robert Harris' best novel about ancient Rome so far. Like it's predecessors it is scrupulously accurate, but unlike them, it is also genuinely exciting, with vivid scenes and living, believable characters. This one shows the great orator Cicero at the highest and then the lowest points of his career--first the defeat of Catiline's conspiracy with Cicero given the great honor of being named "pater patriae"--then just a few years later his being driven into exile by his political enemies. Complicated politics, double and triple crosses, manipulations, huge egos, all wrapped up in some of the most pivotal events in the history of the Western world. For the first time I have a clear picture of what Caesar might really have been like, and I can begin to understand how his brand of megalomania differed from that of his rival Pompey. And how both differed from the third most powerful man in the world, Crassus. And what was at stake for semi-virtuous men like Cicero who tried to be effective players in their political universe, where a miscalculation could lead not just to a lost vote, but to execution. I'm very much looking forward to the final installment in this trilogy

Kay: This is the second in Harris’s experiment in biographical fiction – the life Tiro might have written of his master, Cicero. It’s not imperative to have read the first volume, Imperium, but I think it helps if you have.

Harris says in the introduction that ‘This is a novel, not a work of history: wherever the demands of the two have clashed, I have unhesitatingly given in to the former.’ This may be true – I don’t know enough about Cicero or Roman politics to tell. But even broadly following the events of Cicero’s life leads the novelist into some trouble. The climax of the story is over less than two thirds of the way through, and after that, it’s really down hill all the way for Cicero. Harris has a hard time making the last section of the story gripping – though he has done his best to give it drama and (possibly fictional) coherence.

The book is in two parts, the first, covering 63BC, the year of Cicero’s consulship, and the second the following four years 62-58BC, a lustrum being (among other things) a five year period. Cicero, having clawed his way to the top, finds that his problems have if anything increased, and having no real faction behind him, he needs his wits – and luck – more than ever. Once his year as consul is over, decisions he made in office come back to haunt him, though given the ambition, venality and double dealing of his colleagues, it is hard to see he could have acted differently. Harris concentrates at the personal level on friendships and betrayals, but underlying them the fragile nature of the Republic is evident, with the law and the constitution at the mercy of rampant bribery and corruption, urban violence and threats of armed intervention. The social and economic conditions that allow the voice of the people to become the howl of the mob are there if you are alert to them.

The narrator Tiro is by this time rather more cynical about politics in general; he notes, for example, that two qualities which often go together in politics are ‘great ambition and boundless stupidity’. He is in part reflecting the growing disenchantment of Cicero, who wonders why ‘some ineradicable impulse of the human mind always impels us to foul our own nest?’ But he’s more cynical about Cicero too, noting that he ‘looked like nothing so much as a crafty carpet salesman’ as he set about ‘squaring the right senators’. He even writes that after his consulship, Cicero became ‘a bore’. ‘I fear’, he notes ‘there is in all men who achieve their life’s ambition only a narrow line between dignity and vanity, confidence and delusion, glory and self-destruction.’ When Cicero, like everyone else, does deal and favours, changes allegiances and makes alliances of convenience, Tiro notes dryly that politics ‘demands the most extraordinary reserves of self discipline, a quality that the naive often mistake for hypocrisy’. But Cicero earns Tiro’s admiration by resisting the temptation to be bought off, by ‘his reluctant, nervous resolution in the end to do the right thing’. This may, of course, be the novelist rather than the historian speaking.

Harris writes in direct, modern prose. How does Celer conveniently know there are (nonexistent) enemies coming when no one else can see them? ‘Because I’m a fucking auger, that’s why’. Cicero almost never uses bad language, but after ‘many mutual protestations of friendship, trust and regard’ with one of his enemies, he is driven to exclaim: ’What a complete and utter lying shit that bastard is!’ Cicero’s actual words are again used to great advantage.

As with the earlier book, Harris almost certainly expects readers to make comparisons with modern day politics, and it is impossible to read Lustrum without thinking of the machinations surrounding political decision making today. That alone makes it worth reading.

Read this review at What Book to Read