Lustrum, in Ancient Rome was originally a sacrifice for expiation and purification offered by one of the Censors of Rome in the name of the Roman people at the close of the taking of the census, which took place every five years. The name came to mean a period of five years.
Lustrum is Robert Harris’s 2nd installment of a trilogy about ancient Rome and follows on from Imperium as Cicero is appointed Consul of Rome. As in Imperium, the story is told from the perspective of Cicero’s perceptive slave secretary, Tiro. The year is 63 BC and the Roman Senate is as full of intrigue, corruption, nepotism and double dealing as ever. It is set in the five years after 63BC, when the dying Roman Republic was “a vortex of humour, rumour and anxiety”, the streets full of homeless beggars, gap-toothed soothsayers and painted prostitutes, its politics a deadly mixture of patrician nest-feathering and demagogic populism. And its hero is Cicero, lawyer and orator, self-made man and statesman, here at the peak of his career.
Cicero has to deal with an upcoming Julius Caesar and an old adversary whom he manages to defeat only to be subsequently exiled himself. The plots unfold as Rome and Cicero himself fade. Harris once again gives us a gripping tale with exhaustive research that takes us to the heart of ancient Rome. Paperback, $32.95 Dick