In AD 357, engulfed in turmoil, the Roman Empire divided itself in two: the West, overrun by barbarian marauders; and the East, prosperous and encroaching toward the Orient, its borders extending and contracting with battles against Persians. To quell growing civil unrest, Constantine the Great made Christianity the state religion, remaking temples to Jupiter into churches of the Anointed One.
After Constantine's death, his son, Constantius, took power as Caesar Augustus, high ruler of the empire in Byzantium - the new capital of Rome and home of the Senate - then executed all that remained of their family save his two cousins, Gallus and Julian. Constantius appointed Julian, only 23, Caesar of the West, custodian of Rome against the pillaging tribes. An academic at heart, no one in the empire believed he stood a chance leading the armies of Rome - until one day in Gaul. A great battle altered the course of Julian's career and changed the lives of two soldiers destined to make history....
Any additional comments?
Author David Reddish in this work, follows in the footsteps of Mary Renault in her classic portrayal of pre-Christian life in her novels about Alexander the Great and other portions of ancient history. The major difference in this novel is the element of Christian faith and what it means to believe. Embedded in the story is a lively discussion of how Christianity has been modified by believers who held political power and sought to consolidate, systemize, and unify the faith both for its survival and for personal political benefit. The faith has been modified over and over again to address specific questions and to help it grow. The fact that one can go from a gentile to a Christian without first becoming Jewish is evidence that the Faith had been modified for both spiritual reasons and to expand the franchise of salvation. These issues are touched upon within the latitude and license of this novel’s format. It is an interesting discussion and well worth reading this version of the Sergius and Bacchus story in order to ponder the deeper issues of belief and consider just who is driving the spiritual bus of belief and what motivates those who have always sought to modify belief and faith for their own reasons.
FACT: There are several historical references to the story of Saints Sergius and Bacchus. One version attributes the story to Emperor Galerius circa 305 to 311 AD. Author David Reddish chose the version popularized by Italian scholar Pio Franchi de Cavalieri attributing the martyrdom to Emperor Julian the Apostate in 363 AD. There is some scholarly dispute as to whether these two individuals actually ever existed as people rather than myths. There is no dispute that Sergius and Bacchus are recognized as Saints of the Catholic Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches and are depicted in hundreds of icons and multiple churches and chapels named in their honor. As such these are recognized religious figures embodying attributes of faith sufficient to be canonized as Saints (heroes of the Christian faith).
The Roman Catholic Church honored Saints, Sergius and Bacchus on its liturgical calendar until 1969 – when (sadly in this reviewer’s opinion) they were “de-canonized” due to lack of historical evidence pointing to specific individuals that were proven to have lived. This reflects and interesting speculation on the on the issue of salvation and whether it is attained by faith alone or must it be by deeds; the faith versus deeds argument of the reformation. This leads into the murky area of historical revisionism and whether it is driven by less than spiritual motives.
IN SUM: From a drama and a daring do perspective there is enough action and fighting to make this an entertaining read. But if one thoughtfully thinks about the issues of faith and how Christianity has been modified it is a good intellectual experience as well. It satisfies the action based body and the philosophical and spiritual soul as well.
COMMENT: Author Reddish did a passable job of narrating his own novel. However, I think the audio experience would have been enriched from a better professional narrator of with acting ability; for example Shannon Gunn or Greg Tremblay. In fairness he was better than many of the poor narrators out there; for example Stan Jensen or Steven Morgan
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What disappointed you about The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus?
I thought it was historically based, and it isn't. I also don't enjoy any novels with a sexual theme, and a gay, sexual theme was even less enjoyable. I wish I would have been warned in some manner, so I wouldn't have wasted my time and money on this book.
What do you think your next listen will be?
I will do a better job of researching the potential books before purchasing. I do like historical novels a lot.
What didn’t you like about David Reddish’s performance?
It wasn't performed, just read. One of my favorite narrators is William L Sturdevant and he has many different character voices and that just keeps me interested in the story line.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
Not really except maybe that the writing was creative, but just not enough to keep me listening after a few hours, I just got bored.
Any additional comments?
ugh, can I get a credit?