Some people revel in it. Good on them. Research makes me yawn, even when it’s something I’m really interested in – like Justinian’s Constantinople. I just don’t like details!
Just for the fun of it, I’m writing a novel set in the sixth century AD in the fabled provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire. You know, where they invented the word Byzantine? When I think Byzantine, I see people with big almond-shaped eyes and long noses. I see chariot races, and horridly complicated public punishments, and shifty looking people lurking in the dim corners of the palace plotting their next move in the Game of Empires…
It was an extraordinarily interesting period (yawn). For instance, Justinian’s uncle was a horny-handed peasant, and his wife used to be a prostitute. According to a contemporary chronicler, the royal couple used to scuttle about the palace at night transformed into giant rats….
Interesting factoid…some historians reckon Justinian created the first pandemic!
And then there’s the Ayia Sofia – Justinian’s greatest work (well, technically, other people built it, he just paid) – and the Code of Justinian – the foundation of the modern legal system. Hate lawyers? Blame Justinian. In those days Byzantines were obsessed with two things – horse racing and religion. Who now knows the difference between a Monophysite and an Arian, and cares whether Jesus’ foreskin was divine or, erm, human and therefore subject to decay? But back then, people came to blows over it….wonder if some future civilisation will be equally mystified by Republicans and Democrats?
Anyway that’s all fascinating (yawn) but what I’m concerned with is the adventurous career of Clodia, famed (retired) courtesan of Constantinople, as she traverses the provinces in search of her ex-lover’s annoying teenage bride. It sounds easy – lots of sex, swashbuckling and dead bodies – but there’s no getting away from the damn research! What did she travel in? (clue – not a chariot) What did she travel on? (a Roman road, yes, but which one?) What did she wear? (for preference, a gauzy tunica, but even courtesans have to make concessions to the weather sometimes). And so on and so forth…
Pity I can’t just go there!
Anyone have the same trouble?