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Authors: Steven Saylor

Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #Historical

The Venus Throw

BOOK: The Venus Throw
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THE CRITICS ARE RAVING ABOUT
THE
VENUS THROW

“Steven Saylor transports you to Ancient Rome with spellbinding effectiveness.”

—Austin Chronicle

“Engrossing . . . Simmering with eroticism . . . An absorbing brew of Rome’s decay.”

—Publishers Weekly

“A brilliantly effective return to straight detection for Gordianus the Finder . . . Remarkably vivid . . . Finely etched historical background . . . The finest flower yet of Saylor’s
Roma Sub Rosa
series.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Saylor has made a careful study not only of the history but also the literature of the period . . . Stirring.”

—Drood Review of Mystery

“A deadly game of betrayals, seductions and murder.”

—Poisoned Pen

“The pace is quick, the plot unpredictable, the players complex.”

—Seattle Times

“Splendidly done.”

—Buffalo News

ST. MARTIN’S PAPERBACKS TITLES
BY STEVEN SAYLOR

A T
WIST AT THE
E
ND

H
AVE
Y
OU
S
EEN
D
AWN
?

R
OMA

THE ROMA SUB ROSA SERIES
consisting of:

R
OMAN
B
LOOD

T
HE
H
OUSE OF THE
V
ESTALS

A
RMS OF
N
EMESIS

C
ATILINA’S
R
IDDLE

T
HE
V
ENUS
T
HROW

A M
URDER ON THE
A
PPIAN
W
AY

R
UBICON

L
AST
S
EEN IN
M
ASSILIA

A M
IST OF
P
ROPHECIES

T
HE
J
UDGMENT OF
C
AESAR

THE
VENUS
THROW

STEVEN SAYLOR

NOTE:
If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

THE VENUS THROW

Copyright © 1995 by Steven Saylor.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 94-44488

ISBN: 0-312-95778-5
EAN: 80312-95778-0

Printed in the United States of America

St. Martin’s Press hardcover edition / April 1995
St. Martin’s Paperbacks edition / April 1996

St. Martin’s Paperbacks are published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

15  14  13  12  11  10  9

To Rick

Contents

CHRONOLOGY

Part One:
NEX
[death, usually violent death: murder]

Part Two:
NOXIA
[a fault or offense: a crime]

Part Three:
NOX
 [the goddess Night, sister of Eros; blindness; gloom]

Part Four:
NEXUS
[a binding or tying together]

AUTHOR’S NOTE

Chronology

Listed below are some significant events preceding the action of
The Venus Throw
, which begins in mid-January, 56
B.C
.

90
B.C.
Gordianus in Alexandria.

80
B.C.
King Soter of Egypt dies; succeeded briefly by Alexander II, then by Ptolemy Auletes. Sulla dictator in Rome; Cicero’s first major speech, in defense of Sextus Roscius; the events of
Roman Blood
.

76
B.C
.
Appius Claudius (father of Clodia and Clodius) dies.

75
B.C.
First senatorial attempt to act on the alleged will of Alexander II bequeathing Egypt to Rome.

72
B.C.
Second year of Spartacan slave revolt; the events of
Arms of Nemesis
.

68
B.C.
Clodius incites mutiny in Lucullus’s army.

65
B.C.
Crassus as censor makes a foiled attempt to declare Egypt a tributary province of Rome.

63
B.C.
Cicero’s consulship; the events of
Catilina’s Riddle
. Caesar and Pompey attempt to exact Egyptian tribute with Rullan Legislation, foiled by Cicero.

62
B.C.
Clodia’s husband Quintus Metellus Celer governor of Cisalpine Gaul. Clodius disrupts the celebration of the Good Goddess.

61
B.C.
Clodius tried for the Good Goddess scandal and acquitted.

59
B.C.
Caelius prosecutes Antonius (Cicero defending). Caesar as consul arranges for King Ptolemy to be recognized as “Friend and Ally of the Roman People” in return for thirty-five million denarii. King Ptolemy raises taxes in Egypt, angering the populace. Clodius becomes a plebian in order to run for tribune. Clodia widowed by the death of Quintus Metellus Celer.

58
B.C.
Clodius tribune. Cicero forced into exile (March). Roman takeover of Egyptian Cyprus. King Ptolemy flees to Rome.

57
B.C.
Cicero returns from exile (September). Caelius supports Bestia for praetor. The delegation of one hundred Alexandrians, headed by Dio, arrives in Italy.

At dice I sought the Venus Throw.
Instead: damned Dogs—the lose-all low!

—Propertius,
Elegies
IV, vii: 45–46

We’ve all
heard
about Alexandria, and now we
know
about it—the source of all trickery and deceit, where the plots of all the mimes come from.

—Cicero,
Pro C. Rabirio Postumo
, 35

Democritus disapproved of sexual intercourse as being merely the act whereby one human being springs from another—and by Hercules, the less of that the better! On the other hand, sluggish athletes find that sex rejuvenates them; sex can relieve hoarseness, cure pain in the loins, sharpen eyesight; sex can restore mental balance and banish melancholy.

—Pliny,
Natural History
XXVIII, 58

PART
ONE
NEX

BOOK: The Venus Throw
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