My mother's father taught English literature. When I was about ten or eleven, I could recite Macaulay's 'Lays of Ancient Rome.' While other kids were playing pedestrian war games, I'd be Horatius keeping the bridge.
[In ancient Rome,] why did the senate after killing Caesar turn around and give the government to his nephew? Why did France after they got rid of the king and that whole system turn around and give it to Napoleon? It's the same thing with Germany and Hitler.
I read mostly historical fiction - lots of stuff set in ancient Rome and ancient Greece. I also liked sci-fi and fantasy: David Gemmell, Raymond E. Feist. It's a nice escape from the world. As much as I do love real-life stories, they can often make you hurt in a way I'd rather not hurt.
We stand todaybefore the awful proposition: either the triumph of imperialism and the destruction of all culture, and, as in ancient Rome, depopulation, desolation, degeneration, a vast cemetery; or, the victory of socialism.
I devoured Gibbon. I rode triumphantly through it from end to end and enjoyed it all. I scribbled all my opinions on the margins of the pages ... From Gibbon I went to Macauley. I had learnt The Lays of Ancient Rome by heart, and loved them; and of course I knew he had written a history; but I had never read a page of it ... I accepted all Macauley wrote as gospel, and I was grieved to read his harsh judgements upon the Great Duke of Marlborough.
Women [in ancient Rome] were condemned to the perpetual tutelage of parents, husbands, or guardians; a sex created to please and obey was never supposed to have attained the age of reason and experience. Such, at least, was the stern and haughty spirit of the ancient law . . .
I would be literally patrician in the sense that the senators in ancient Rome were called conscript fathers, paters, from which comes the word patrician. So if you come from a senatorial family, you are literally patrician in that sense, but that doesn't mean that you couldn't be Billy Carter, you know, of recent memory.