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The Secundus Papyrus
The Cybelene Conspiracy

The Technique of Research in Writing Historical Novels.

by Albert Noyer / Author: The Saint’s Day Deaths; The SecundusPapyrus; The Cybelene Conspiracy (Spring 2005). The Toby Press LLC.

Any author trying to recreate an historical era will find three main avenues open to him or her:

  1. Reading secondary sources.
  2. Reading primary sources and documents.
  3. Visiting historical sites and nearby locations in the novel.

I chose the 5th century C.E. in part because I had visited Pre-historic, Celtic and Classical ruins in Europe from that and earlier eras. It was also a period that Edward Gibbon denigrated in his monumental The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and this negative view persisted for about a century and a half. During my research I discovered that, after 1950 or so, the 5th century was the subject of new study and interpretation by scholars; this is still continuing. The “fall” of Rome in the West was rather a cultural glide into the medieval world as local provinces, cities and farm villas, along with the Christian Church, adapted to new conditions imposed on themby the barbarian conquest of the Western Empire. The Eastern Empire, ruled from Constantinople, continued for another thousand years.

Gibbon blamed the rise of Christianity as one reason for Rome’s decline, yet he admitted that, “Constantine’s victorious religion broke the violence of the fall, and mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors.”

It’s not possible to cite all the many books available, from inexpensive Penguin and Dover paperbacks, to out of print volumes that must be searched for on Amazon, Alibris or Powell Web marketplaces. Among many I own are these:

Secondary Sources

History of the Later Roman Empire, 2 vols.; J.B. Bury. Dover PB. / Covers AD 395 to 563
The World of Late Antiquity AD 150-750; Peter Brown. PB
Augustine of Hippo; Peter Brown. PB / Definitive study of the Church Father’s life
Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity; Peter Brown. PB / Also anything by Brown!
Women and Christian Origins; Eds. Ross S. Kraemer & Mary R. D’Angelo. PB
Women in Late Antiquity; Gillian Clark. HC / Pagan and Christian Lifestyles
The Mediterranean World in late Antiquity AD 395-600; Averil Cameron. HC
The Theodosian Empresses; Kenneth G. Holum. HC / Study of strong women descendants of Theodosius I
Ancient Medicine; Ludwig Edelstein. PB / Overview of all aspects of ancient medicine
Ancient Egyptian Medicine; John F. Nun. HC / Sourcebook of Egyptian medical knowledge

Primary Sources

The Later Roman Empire AD 354-378; Ammianus Marcellinus. Penguin PB
The History of the Church; Eusebius of Caesarea. Penguin PB / First church history to AD 337
Life of Constantine; Eusebius of Caesarea. PB / Constantine’s biographer, knew the emperor
The Nag Hammadi Library. Gen. Ed. James M. Robinson PB / Gnostic writings discovered in 1945
Egeria’s Travels; trans. John Wilkinson. PB / Diary of a nun who visited the Holy Land in the late 4th century
The Life of Melania the Younger; Elizabeth A. Clark. HC / Roman aristocrat who sold her estates and moved to Jerusalem to found hospitals and convents
Hippocratic Writings / Galen on the Natural Faculties; Great Books, Vol. 10. / Basic medical knowledge of the time
Soranus: Gynecology. Owsei Temkin, trans. PB / Physician in second half of 1st century AD
Greek Medicine; James Longrigg. PB / A sourcebook from the Heroic to the Hellenistic periods / A Catholic Encyclopedia web site that has many Early Christian documents translated into English

Visiting Historical Sites

Over the past 38 years I’ve visited Celtic, Greek and Roman sites in France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Jugoslavia and Turkey, taking slides and photographs, and collecting on-site literature and artifacts from those areas.

© Albert Noyer, 2004

The Secundus Papyrus
by Albert Noyer
Paperback, 346 Pages
Toby Press (October 2003)
ISBN: 1592640
List Price US$14.95
The Cybelene Conspiracy
by Albert Noyer
Paperback, 316 Pages
Toby Press (May 2005)
ISBN: 1592640338
List Price US$14.95
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