Caesar's fatal search for love ...
Ancient Rome, 130 years after Christ but still two centuries before Christians achieve state recognition. Caesar Hadrian is the ruler of a vast Empire at the height of its wealth & power. One of "the five good emperors", Hadrian dominates a culture ruled by pagan values, inequities, & ambiguous sexualities.
From a cruel war's victory Triumph through Rome's Forum, to a drunken revel at Athens' Acropolis; from the stirring excitement of a board hunt in the forests of Bithynia, to the steam rooms of a grand Roman bath-house; from the opulent bordellos of Alexandria, to the privacy of an emperor's bed chamber, Hadrian's search for love destroys the very person he most adores.
During his 400-strong traveling Court's leisurely pleasure journey through Egypt Hadrian's companion & 'Favorite', Antinous of Bithynia, is found dead one dawn beneath the waters of the River Nile. Hadrian is distraught. Is it a drunken prank gone wrong, suicide, murder, or something far more sinister?
Hadrian commands the historian, barrister, & renown libertine Suetonius Tranquillus to urgently investigate. He is given 72 hours to determine the cause of death. Suetonius, ever opportune, hires a hetaera sex-worker concubine, Surisca of Antioch, as an an interpreter & paramour to assist the investigation. Between them & their courtier colleagues, they interrogate members of the Court as several new deaths occur. In the course of their investigation they uncover a subterranean conspiracy which reveals more than Hadrian may wish to know, or want others to know. They disclose the uninhibited appetites of the ruling classes amid the basic human need for affection & bonding, whatever the relationship.
THE HADRIAN ENIGMA is Suetonius's secret record of the investigation into one of history's most intriguing, suspicious fatalities. It depicts an era of relaxed morals among the elites which sanctions men loving men in a sexist macho culture of warrior pride, honor & shame.