This page is about the characters, both the real historical ones (in grey circles) and the invented fictional ones (in red circles), who appear in The Ancient Ocean Blues. Links are to Wikipedia articles about them or related subjects.
Julius Caesar is shown in the novel at a turning-point in his career: his election as High Priest (Pontifex Maximus) of Rome. As Marcus says, it was a startling promotion and a sign of things to come: Caesar would go on to overthrow the Roman Republic in the Civil War of 49-45 BC, just 13 years after The Ancient Ocean Blues ends. The picture to the left is his real portrait from more than 2000 years ago.
Pompey the Great
Pompey Magnus ("the Great") was, along with Caesar, destined to play a major role in the fall of the Roman Republic. A successful general for most of his career, he was at this time busy defeating the Cilician Pirates and conquering the East. His campaign against the Pirates actually took place in 67-66 BC. This is his real portrait.
Atticus was Cicero's best friend. Though born in Rome, he chose to live much of his life in Athens as a student of philosophy and patron of the arts. Cicero's lifelong correspondence with Atticus survives to this day.
Gaius Oppius was one of Caesar's henchmen, managing Caesar's private affairs in Rome when Caesar was abroad. In The Ancient Ocean Blues he is shown promoting Caesar's political campaign for the post of Pontifex Maximus (High Priest). He is thought to have written at least one of the histories of the subsequent Civil War published under Caesar's name. The portrait at left is not of Gaius Oppius himself.
Zeno of Sidon
Zeno of Sidon was born in the city of Sidon in Phoenicia (modern Lebanon). He was the leading Epicurean philosopher of the 1st century BC. In The Ancient Ocean Blues, Paulla is shown attending some of his lectures at Athens. The portrait at left is not of Zeno of Sidon himself.
Anaxilaus of Larissa was a Pythagorean philosopher, banished from Rome in 28 BC for practicing magic; it is now thought that this "magic" may have consisted of experiments in the natural sciences. Marcus, Paulla, and Homer encounter Anaxilaus in Athens in The Ancient Ocean Blues. The portrait at left is not of Anaxilaus himself.
Marcus has spent some time in Rome, so he doesn't have the innocent outlook of Aulus, who is still fresh from the countryside in Etruria; but Aulus also lacks the insider's point of view that Marcus has.
Homer has many of the characteristics of the Greeks as the Romans perceived them: a little too smart, a little too impractical, and always ready to bet everything on one roll of the dice. In the ancient world, book publishers operated very much as Homer does, or plans to: they would employ many copyists (often educated slaves) who would write out new copies of every new book: there was no such thing as mass production!
The Captain is meant to be, among other things, a representative of the world of maritime trade and commerce that kept ancient civilization going. He is from Carthage, a famous city near modern Tunis that was home to many traders and merchants.
Brasidas (named after a famous Spartan general) exhibits the extreme pride and arrogance that in antiquity was associated with his home city of Sparta. His attitude towards his slaves is sadly typical of many landowners in the ancient world. The bust to the left is of Leonidas, a Spartan king from a much earlier period (d. 480 BC) who defended the pass of Thermopylae against the Persians.