Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Writing about Servilia by Lindsay McKenna

A number of my faithful readers are curious about ‘why’ I chose to start TIME RAIDERS with a relatively unknown ‘famous’ woman. In her day, Servilia was a force to be reckoned with--no matter if you were a man or woman of Rome. She ruled in the shadow of the most famous general in all of Roman history: Julius Caesar. And, it was more than idle talk that as Caesar went through Gaul (France) with his legions, that she was there as a tactican and strategist. Just imagine how the Roman senate would have reacted knowing that a WOMAN (of all things!) discussed not only military tactis with Julius Caesar, but that he utilized her ideas!! And his legions continued to win as they pushed toward Brittania.

Servilia has gotten a bum wrap from those who haven’t read her history to appreciate her and her position in Rome. I found her absolutely mesmerizing. She was the consummate politico back in 45 BC. And she was a woman. Don’t forget that the Patriarchy--the male ruled world where woman were considered little more than goods to be bought/sold--Servilia was an empowered woman. She refused to behave like a cowed female. And that’s what I found so interesting. In fact, the more I delved into Servilia, the more I silently cheered her on. Truly, she was a Feminist when it wasn’t a good time to be one.

And, Servilia, coming from a family of “old” power in Rome, was married twice. Her first husband was killed in battle and she divorced the second one. And divorcing in Rome wasn’t looked upon kindly. She had the chuzpah and fell in love with Julius Caesar. And she had the brass b.... to dump her old, doddering husband #2 for this man who changed the world. But, she helped him to change it, too.

And, she was pivotal in ways she could never have fathomed. Who knew that Marcus Brutus, her son, who fought with Julius Caesar for twenty years, would turn on him? Eventually, Marcus, who believed in a republic and not a dictator for Rome, became part of the plot that killed Julius Caesar on the “ides of March.” And Julius was said to have uttered as he lay bleeding from many stab wounds, “Etu, Brutus?” “And you, Brutus?” Julius must have been shocked that his old friend who had fought at his side for twenty years, would turn on him like this.

I can’t imagine how Servilia felt. The man she loved with her soul, was murdered by her son. And yet, through it all, Servilia maintained her indominatable selfhood. In the end, Servilia outlived her lover, Julius Caesar and her son, Marcus Brutus. And, it is said that she had a powerful hand in getting Augustus Caesar as emperor of Rome. And, in the twists and turns of Fate, Julius Caesar had adopted Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus (also known as Octavius) in 44 B.C. before his death. Servilia then worked behind the scenes to see Julius Caesar’s adopted nephew to the thorn. Augustus ushered in what is known as the “golden age” when Rome was at its peak of power in every way. Servilia had a deft hand in that, too. What a life she lived. What an incredible woman she was!

In THE SEEKER, she plays a very key role as a secondary character. I hope my readers find her as fascinating as I did. You might consider her a female “Donald Trump” of her time! She was rich monetarily, came from old Roman bloodlines, held the highest seat of power by loving Julius Caesar. And her son topples the great dictator. And then she goes on to politically rally senators to support Augustus as caesar. Whatta gal! Servilia was truly a world changer. Too bad her fame isn’t more well known. But now, in THE SEEKER, I hope that changes!

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