Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Title: I, Claudia A Novel of the Ancient World
Author: Lin Wilder
Genre: Historical Romance
"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.
Knowledge has three degrees─ opinion, science, illumination. The means of instrument of the first is senses, the second, dialectic; of the third, intuition.
The greatest blessings come by way of madness, indeed of madness that is heaven-sent.
~ Socrates on the Oracle at Delphi
While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him."
~ Gospel of Matthew
The Christian of the twenty-first century will be a mystic-one who has ‘experienced’ something or he will not be Christian.
~ Karl Rahner
They were 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 (The 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. 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. At first, they resembled butterflies until our carriage drew close enough to see the scarves. I looked out the window to see some of the soft cloths puddling on the dirt streets only to be trampled by the next column of tightly grouped soldiers. The morning sun turned the helmets and shields of the marching men to a radiance so bright it could not be withstood by the naked eye. I closed my eyes tightly against the glare and in vain hopes that these familiar faces of the onlookers were just another dream. Terrified that when I reopened them, I would see those same faces filled with hatred, mouths now 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 worlds. 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 over thirty days. The heat makes it almost impossible to sleep at night- it never cools off here.” Only midmorning and the temperature had to be over ninety. The fall weather in Rome had been glorious. So different from this unrelenting, insufferable heat.
Antonia was unfooled by either my reply or my attempt at a smile. I did not blame her. I knew the motion of my lips was more rictus than smile...that we were heading toward a doom of the kind the world had never seen. I knew that there was nothing I could do or say to stop it. Upon opening my eyes, 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 Lucias 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 of 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 the words recited by Christians for the last thirty years, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and died,” had terrorized me in my dream, echoing as I know they will, as I have seen in my visions, through the centuries. To be memorialized in something that will be called the ‘Apostles Creed.’
These slanderous claims, and all the others like them, no longer break my heart; but 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, 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 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 Demetrius and Sabina. Only they knew that I was the last Oracle. My true identity remained a secret to all others—although my husband speculated that to be the cause of my foreknowledge of so much.
I ask that you permit a conceit. This book will be told in two voices. My own and that of my husband. Perhaps that seems presumptuous? Or worse, specious? Near the end of his life, almost daily, my husband told me that I knew him better than he knew himself. And he talked incessantly about how close he had come to refusing the thunderous command of the Jews. When Lucius gave me his diaries, including the letters exchanged with Seneca, this book designed itself.
Could I have intervened? When the famed Stoic philosopher directed his every thought? Incited a hatred toward the Jews that cost him and the world no less than everything?
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Watching It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th St. and all the versions of A Christmas Carol we can find.
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
Go back in time to a wedding during Saturnalia-the ancient Roman version of Christmas- what better way to get in the holiday mood?
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Runs December 1 – 31.
Drawing will be held on January 3, 2020.
Lin Wilder is the author of the Lindsey McCall medical mystery series, which includes The Fragrance Shed By A Violet, Do You Solemnly Swear? A Price for Genius and Malthus Revisited. Her memoir, Finding the Narrow Path recounts her journey away from God and back again. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her work, including a Feathered Quill, three NABE Pinnacles, two IAN Best Books, two Literary Titans and a Readers Favorite Best Book. She lives in northern Nevada. Her latest book is I, Claudia: A Novel of the Ancient World.
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