The Course of Honour by Lindsey Davis tells the story of Caenis, a slave girl in ancient Rome, and her love for Vespasian, a soldier from an upper-class family. Caenis is a scribe in the household of the aristocratic lady Antonia, daughter of Mark Antony and mother of the emperor Claudius, when she meets Vespasian and his older brother Sabinus, a senator. Caenis and Vespasian are instantly attracted to each other, and soon begin a love affair. But they both know that, according to Roman law, a man of the senatorial class cannot marry a slave. Eventually they end their affair, and Vespasian marries a woman from his own class. But, when Antonia dies, she frees Caenis and leaves her a fortune, which she uses to help Vespasian advance his career. As emperor follows emperor on the throne, Vespasian rises higher along the course of honor—the path that aristocratic Romans followed in order to gain political power. But can he manage to survive in the treacherous times that included the reigns of the notorious emperors Caligula and Nero? This is a compelling story of ancient Rome from the point of view of a slave woman, and an excellent love story.
Davis is better known as the author of the Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, featuring a private investigator in ancient Rome. This non-mystery historical novel was actually written before the Falco series, but was published after the Falco books became popular.
The Course of Honour can be borrowed from the Browsing Collection in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library. Silver Pigs, the first of Davis' Falco series, can be checked out of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library.