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Not by Force But by Good Will

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Pages: 436

Language: English

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: Xlibris (17 Mar. 2008)

By: Hannah Bonsey Suthers (Author)

'Not by force but by good will' reads the inscription over the gate of a market farm in Puteoli, Roman Campania. Quintus the master lives by these words. Lucan his slave defies them. Both are nearly destroyed by them.

The fugitive slave Lucan, seeking asylum, crashes the farm gate of Good Will, and Quintus rescues him. 'Slaves, serve your master as you would your Lord,' Lucan is told. How can he possibly do that? Quintus sows discontent among his sixteen slaves by choosing Lucan for a companion. Letitia the young slave girl refuses to grow up in defense against the deprived farm slaves. She eyes Lucan and longs for her inevitable marriage to be a bond, not a bondage. An insidious bet regarding Lucan convulses the farm and he runs to the safety of the church. But the church will not let him live a lie.

The historical novel, Not By Force But By Good Will, resurrects the grass roots of the fourth Century Roman empire. Like the farmer Quintus, three-fourths of the free populace are rustics, and like Lucan, two-thirds of the populace are slaves.

The Emperor Constantine's foreign war and civil war triumphs and edicts have momentous impact on Quintus. The draft leaches the farmland of his brothers and their men to defend an overextended front. Excessive production quotas exhaust the soil. Taxes to support the state, to build churches and Constantinople, the New Rome in the East, gut him. Nor can Quintus escape: the Colonate law binds farmers and slaves to the land as serfs. Failing to meet his production and tax quotas, Quintus faces prison, and confiscation of his land and household by the state into vast plantations. Since no free person would marry a serf, anyone seducing or cohabiting with a slave, and the family, are threatened by Constantine's morality edicts with the death penalty and seizure of land. Only Lucan can save them.

Running from Puteoli to Nicaea, to Rome and back, Lucan experiences the grassroots impact of the Nicene Council of Churches, convened by Constantine, that settles a schism threatening to divide the empire newly united by the sword. The Council gives the Nicene Creed to posterity. The consequences to Lucan's life are profound.

Peopled with vivid characters, Not by Force but by Good Will explores how slaves like Lucan may have struggled to transcend slavery and obey the scriptural mandate to serve the master as the Lord, even when there was not so much as a whisper of hope for freedom.


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