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Detective Fiction and Historical Narrative1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2009


We know that Cicero successfully defended Sextus Roscius on a charge of parricide in 80 B.C.; we know that Vespasian became emperor after the civil wars of A.D. 69, and founded the Flavian dynasty which ended with his son Domitian's death in A.D. 96.

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 1999

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2. Roman Blood (Ivy Books, 1991), 274Google Scholar.

3. Todorov, Tzvetan, ‘Detective Fiction’ in The Poetics of Prose (Cornell U.P., 1977), 46Google Scholar.

4. Cf. Jenkins, Keith, On ‘What is History?’: from Can and Elton to Rorty and White (London, 1995), 6496Google Scholar; esp. 85–90.

5. Psychoanalysis, Historiography, and Feminist Theory (Cambridge U.P., 1997), 12 (the figure is originally ‘…Dorothy's scarecrow, lamenting his lack of a brain while performing at the level of a wily and inventive pragmatism…’)Google Scholar.

6. Cawelti, John G., Adventure, Mystery, and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture (University of Chicago Press, 1976), 182Google Scholar. Marlowe is, of course, named for Shakespeare's contemporary, the playwright and spy Christopher Marlowe.

7. Todorov, , op. cit, 47–8Google Scholar.

8. Davis, Lindsey, The Silver Pigs (Pan Books, 1989), 63Google Scholar.

9. Ibid., 241.

10. Ibid., 63.

11. Žižek, Slavoj, Enjoy your Symptom: Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and out (London, 1992), 150Google Scholar.

12. Op. cit., 177.

13. Op. cit., 149. Cf. Žižek, , op. cit., 150–3, 187Google Scholar.

14. Roman Blood, 5.

15. Sulla's words: ‘Are you really so proud to be their champion, Cicero, to have saved a bloody parricide just so you could kick me in the balls, all in the name of old-fashioned Roman virtue?’ (Roman Blood, 374).

16. The Silver Pigs, 249.

17. Ibid., 164.

18. Ibid., 241.

19. Pliny, , Panegyric of Trajan 48.3Google Scholar.

20. Ibid., 90.5.

21. All following quotations are from The Silver Pigs, 241.

22. Suet. Dom. 3.1.