Title: I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World
Author: Lin Wilder
Genre: Romance / Historical / Ancient World
Publisher: Wyatt Mackenzie Imprint
"They were the faces of my dreams..."
Claudia Procula--wife of one of the most controversial figures in ancient history--comes alive to twenty-first-century readers in a groundbreaking new novel by the award-winning author of the Lindsey McCall medical mystery series.
For decades, the daughter of the last Oracle at Delphi has suppressed the secrets of her birth, extensive education, and marriage to the notorious Fifth Prelate of Judea--Pontius PIlate. Now, at age seventy-nine, she feels compelled to leave behind her story for the world and set the record straight about the beginnings of modern history.
He has had his arms raised for how many hours now? Shouldn't there be a Joshua to help this Moses? I suppressed a smile at my wittiness, knowing better than to voice the thought aloud. My ladies would be shocked by my allusion to the great Jewish prophet. Well aware of my reputation as an empty-headed nitwit among those who served my husband, such low expectations had served me well. Best to maintain the fiction.
In a surprising change of genre and style, Wilder brings her extensive research and wide-ranging imagination to bear on the seminal story of our time: the passion of the Christ. The result is a compelling and harrowing love story replete with historical figures such as Seneca, Socrates, and Pilate himself. It is sure to captivate both believers and skeptics alike, and remain in readers' minds long after the last page is turned.
They wore the faces of my dreams. Men, women, and children,
mouths open in joyous shouts, made soundless by the din
of hundreds of marching feet. The people lined the narrow
streets, the wealthier watching from their palace rooftops, their
children tossing brightly colored scarves upon the phalanxes of
soldiers. The lead centurion held the shield of Tiberius steadily
aloft: S.P.Q.R. Senātus Populusque Rōmānus (Roman Senate and People). The legionnaire moved it only when an errant puff of color landed on the scarlet standard, momentarily obscuring the golden eagle glittering in the bright sunlight.
He has had his arms raised for how many hours now?
Shouldn’t there be a Joshua to help this Moses?
I suppressed a smile at my wittiness, knowing better than
to voice the thought aloud. My ladies would be shocked by my
allusion to the great Jewish prophet. I was well aware of my reputation
as an empty-headed nitwit among those who served my
husband; such low expectations had served me well. Best to
maintain the fiction.
Soft pinks, yellows, reds, and blues of all shades drifted
lazily down the still, hot currents of desert air. They resembled
butterflies until our carriage drew close enough to see that they
were scarves. Some of the soft cloths puddled on the dirt streets
as I watched, only to be trampled by the next column of tightly
grouped soldiers. The morning sun made the helmets and shields
of the marching men radiate so brightly that they could not be
looked at without squinting. I closed my eyes tightly against the
glare, wishing vainly that the familiar faces of the onlookers were
just another dream; terrified that when I opened them, I would
see those same faces filled with hatred, their mouths joining in
the monstrous roar of malevolence, commanding the death of
the righteous one.
“M’Lady, M’Lady, are you all right?” I could hear Antonia’s
concern. She knew how I had dreaded this journey, how
fervent had been my prayers for some miracle to forestall what
I knew was destiny—his, mine, and the world’s. Unlike the others,
Antonia had known me almost since birth.
“I’m fine, Antonia, fine. Please do not worry, I am just
drained. We have been traveling now for more than thirty days.
The heat makes it almost impossible to sleep at night—it never
cools off here.”
It was still only midmorning, and yet the temperature had
to be over ninety. The fall weather in Athens had always been
gloriously cool, crisp; wholly different from this unrelenting, insufferable
Antonia wasn’t fooled by my reply, in spite of my attempt
at a smile. I did not blame her. I knew that the upturn of my lips
was more rictus than smile...and with good reason. We were
heading toward a doom of the kind the world had never seen,
and I knew there was nothing I could do or say to stop it. Surveying
my surroundings, I felt no relief at the unchanged jubilance,
the joyous expressions on the faces of the crowds.
It would come, and soon.
I am nearing the end of my life. Seventy-nine years lived
as a shadow, a face behind a curtain, whispering the residues of
a dream. Insubstantial, unheard. But my time of silence is done.
It is time to write the truth for those with ears to hear it. I
am Procula, wife of Lucius Pontius Pilate. My husband has been
dead for several decades now. Like me, Lucius is the subject of
vast ignorance, lies, and injustice. The very name Pontius Pilate
has become synonymous with cowardice and betrayal.
Those who claim to know the substance of my dream believe
it emanates from evil. Others insist that those words that
will be recited by Christians: “Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was
crucified, and died,” were the source of terror in my dreams. I
was told by the Oracle that these eight words would echo
throughout the centuries and be memorialized in something that
will be called the Apostles Creed. Most of the people reciting the
Creed mindlessly overlooking the word under to believe that the
Righteous One was crucified by my husband.
The slanderous claims, and all others like them, no longer
break my heart; they are merely annoying. I often think of the
writing of Socrates, a man I consider a good friend though he
died before I was born. His wisdom and humility await those
rare searchers of truth. “I know I am intelligent because I know
I know nothing.”
I was born in Delphi, daughter of the last of the Oracles of
Pythia. It was a time of disorder, chaos, terror, and the death of
nations. My mother broke her vow of virginity in lying with my
father. She feared for both our lives, because what she had done
was punishable by death—hers and mine. The time of the Oracles
was coming to an end. Men no longer listened to the whispers
of the prophets, certainly not to the women—not even when
we had the words of the gods on our lips.
I survived, but my mother did not. I was taken to Athens,
where I was raised by Adrian and Sabina. Only they knew that I
was the last Oracle; my true identity remained a secret to all
others—although my husband speculated as much, due to my
foreknowledge of so much.
I ask that you permit a conceit. This book will be told in
two voices: my own and my husband’s. Perhaps that seems presumptuous,
or worse: specious? My defense is this: Near the end
of his life, almost daily, my husband told me that I knew him
better than he knew himself. He talked incessantly about how
close he had come to refusing the thunderous command of the
Jews. When Quintillus, Lucius’s best friend and Centurion gave
me Lucius’ Final Report of Lucius Pontius Pilate to Tiberius
Caesar on The Crucifixion of the Christ including the letters he’d
exchanged with Seneca, this book designed itself.
Could I have intervened even though the famed Stoic
philosopher directed my husband’s every thought? Incited a
hatred toward the Jews that cost him and the world—no less than