Gordianus the Finder

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Gordianus the Finder (c. 110 BC – ??) is the fictional protagonist of Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series of historical mystery novels set in Republican Rome. He lives by his wits, investigating crimes and other cases for Roman advocates such as Marcus Tullius Cicero. Initially, he lives in a rambling house on the Esquiline Hill in Rome with his family; but he later inherits a farm in Etruria, then exchanges it for a house on the Palatine Hill, giving his older house to his son Eco.

Gordianus shows not only the regular deductive and perceptive abilities of fellow detectives of all novels and ages, but a remarkable gift of inducing all kind of characters, sometimes without trying, to confide to him even their most hidden secrets, longings and intentions.

Gordianus interacts with non-fictional citizens including Sulla, Cicero, Marcus Crassus, Catullus, Catiline, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Quintus Sertorius, and Mark Antony.

The first Gordianus novel, Roman Blood, is based on an actual murder trial in which Marcus Tullius Cicero (aided by his slave Marcus Tullius Tiro) defended Sextus Roscius against the charge of parricide. The crime has a unique punishment, which Saylor describes in gruesome detail.

For an ancient Roman, Gordianus has an unconventional family. His wife, Bethesda, was his former Egyptian concubine, whom he had purchased as a slave in Alexandria. His eldest adopted son Eco was a former mute who followed in his father's footsteps as an investigator; another adopted son, Meto, estranged himself from his father by becoming a soldier and a spy, though they are later reconciled; while the youngest adopted son, Rupa, was the brother of Cassandra, an adulterous love of Gordianus. The only official child of his blood is his daughter Diana, an intellectual and headstrong young woman, who becomes pregnant by, and later marries, a slave called Davus. Gordianus and his family had a cat named Bast (after an Egyptian cat-deity), but Bast was killed in Roman Blood, by one of Gordianus's enemies, who had been trying to kill Bethesda. Later on, Bethesda acquires other cats: usually, one is called Bast.

A pacifist, Gordianus shows a successive bitter criticism to the deeds of almost all historical characters shown in the series and their harsh and bloody consequences on ordinary Romans. He remains a republican at heart, despite witnessing the crumbling of the ancient state and the beginning of the soon-to-be Roman Empire.

Gordianus was thought to have died soon after the apparent death of his wife, while in Egypt, by drowning in the Nile ( The Judgment of Caesar ). However, he and his wife return very alive in another issue of the series ( The Triumph of Caesar ), and witnessed the death of Caesar (“The Throne of Caesar”), after which the character says he will finally retire..

Gordianus returns in a prequel published in 2012, The Seven Wonders: A Novel of the Ancient World.

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