Featured Posts
RSS Feed

March 31, 2020

Although there were banks in Miriam’s Alexandria to lend money, manage land and buildings, collect outstanding debts, and handle the various currencies for big businesses, the exchange of coins in the local marketplace was the occupation of the argentarii, the men who sat at tables throughout the agora. Experts in spotting phony gold and silver coins, they served the shoppers by evaluating foreign coins and other valuables for...

March 24, 2020

The study of forensics dates back to Roman times. In fact, the term “forensics” is derived from the Latin word "forum" because the Romans presented their legal charges in the public square. While the Romans did not have a specific term for or understanding of forensic science, Quintilian, a Roman jurist, used bloodstain pattern analysis to win a murder case. The case I’m thinking of, “Paries Palmatus” or “The Wall of Hand...

March 17, 2020

Mandrake is a mysterious nightshade with a long, thick taproot that resembles the human body. At one time, people believed the plant would shriek when uprooted, emitting a scream so powerful it could kill the unfortunate person who attempted to harvest it.

Although botanists disagree on how to divide the genus Mandragora into its various species, the one found around the Mediterranean is likely to be called Mandragora autumna...

March 10, 2020

To write a story, you first need an idea for the plot. One source is the stories you’ve read or heard about but with a “what if” twist that suits your characters and setting. Of course, that’s just the beginning of a plot idea. I keep a journal of them. Most reach a dead end, but some come alive as I develop the idea into a seven-step plot outline. To become familiar with this framework, try using these steps to analyze your f...

March 3, 2020

In THE DEADLIEST THIEF, Miriam is pregnant with her first child. In one passage, she tells us what she and Judah spoke about during dinner:

   

Dinner with Judah was quiet. We spoke only about our baby and his intentions to hire a midwife and buy an experienced doula to assist our maid. I agreed but demurred when he suggested a charm to protect me from Abyzou. My father had given one to my mother after her two stillbirths,...

February 25, 2020

In THE DEADLIEST THIEF, we again encounter Bion, Phoebe’s husband. Once a slave owned by the Roman authorities, he was able, through good fortune and hard work, to buy his freedom and own a thriving bookshop in the agora, where he dealt in Greek and Roman manuscripts, some rare and classical like the poetry of Homer. He did well in part because the literacy rate among the Greco-Romans was high, at least 10%, because of the pre...

February 18, 2020

Miriam had been to the Abandoned Village on Pharos Island before, but when she directs the bearers to take her there in THE DEADLIEST THIEF, it’s to search for her kidnapped best friend, Phoebe:

   

As a girl, I wanted to see the Abandoned Village that my tutor had told me about. Many of its houses had been ravaged by fire during one of the battles Julius Caesar fought with Cleopatra, but the entire village had to be abando...

February 11, 2020

“Look,” Bion says in THE DEADLIEST THIEF, “I can’t be sure when Phoebe will be back so let me choose the undertaker. I’ll select a burial place, hire the mourners to lead the funeral procession, and perform the rituals.”

   

What could Bion have had in mind? Roman funeral processions were marked by the movement of bodies, both living and dead, and the loud noise they generated. And like other aspects of Roman life, the weal...

February 4, 2020

The word pharos is of Greek origin and means lighthouse. So, I wondered whether the word for lighthouse came from the name of the island, or the name of the island came from the word for lighthouse. To my surprise, the island was named first. Moreover, from Greek to Latin and then to the other Romance languages, the word came to mean lighthouse in French (phare), Italian and Spanish (faro), Catalan and Romanian (far), and Port...

January 28, 2020

Miriam tells us in THE DEADLIEST LIE that her servant Phoebe was a Greek foundling her mother rescued. Finding the infant wrapped in a soiled blanket in the Bruchium Quarter when she was hardly more than a day old, her mother brought the baby home and hired a wet nurse for her first three years.

   
In the newest and fifth book in the Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series, THE DEADLIEST THIEF, we learn that unbeknownst to Phoebe...

Please reload

© 2020 by June Trop

Designed by Len Ritchie

Come to Miriam’s Alexandria, a first century city second only to Rome.