Buried: The Discernment of Pagans in Ancient Rome by [Troy, Frank]THE BOOK: Buried: The Discernment of Pagans in Ancient Rome.


  Frank Troy

A professional editor I hired through services provided by Createspace.

Createspace, the publishing platform of Amazon. The book is available in both print and Kindle editions.

Frank TroySUMMARY In the year 385 CE, Aeneas, the only son of a Roman statesman, is sent to Alexandria for his compulsory military service and falls hopelessly in love with Hypatia, a beautiful and brilliant scholar at the Library of Alexandria. Aeneas and Hypatia become lovers and plan a life together, but at the end of his service his father orders him back to Rome. The empire is rapidly destabilizing and Aeneas is charged with taking his only sibling Honoria north across the Alps to join their father at the supposedly safe military outpost of Augusta Raurica. Within months the entire empire erupts into warring factions. When their father dies as the result of a military conflict, Aeneas and Honoria make a dangerous journey to safety at a family property on the African side of the Mediterranean. A short time later Aeneas travels to Alexandria to find Hypatia. He discovers that she has been murdered by Christian monks because of her prominence and refusal to embrace Christianity. Devastated, Aeneas returns to his African estate. He is genuinely happy when Honoria finds love, marries, and has children, but Aeneas is unable to find a wife because all women, in his mind, pale in comparison to Hypatia. He remains true to her memory as the years pass. Growing old, he and Honoria watch their beloved Roman civilization fade into history as the West descends into the Dark Ages.

: Throughout my college teaching career I taught a historical survey of Western literature, and I gradually became aware of an important bias in the textbooks. The role of polytheistic religions in pre-Christian Western literature was dismissed as unimportant or ignored altogether. With few exceptions, textbook authors have considered only the Christian religion to be worthy of discussion. Eventually I regarded this as an act of disrespect comparable to, say, the Taliban destroying the 1,700 year-old Bamiyan Buddha statues, or ISIS destroying ancient Roman architectural splendors in Leptis Magna. After retiring from teaching I decided to attempt a fictional portrayal of the sophisticated Greco-Roman pagan worldview. I knew the impossibility of portraying a culture not my own with complete accuracy, but decided it was better to do something than to do nothing. Buried was written over a period of about 19 months and was the product of many years of reading, research, and thinking.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Because pre-Christian Greco-Roman religions, through their stories, offered their followers abundant discernment—insight and wisdom that gave rise to notable philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, and writers such as Homer and Sophocles. In our day we too readily forget that classical Greek and Roman civilizations were a product of that ancient, pagan worldview. Since it gave us the foundations for geometry, architecture, art, democracy, sports, philosophy, science, and much else—indeed, two of the most highly developed civilizations in history—we should at least try to understand its rudiments and acknowledge its role in shaping the present.

To me, fiction writers share goals with magicians and actors—they create temporary illusions that transport us into an alternate reality, entertain us, and make us think. Buried is an attempt to create the illusion of felt life in a highly developed and sophisticated pagan civilization. At the heart of the novel is a love story that involves Hypatia, a real person now celebrated by feminists as a role-model who defied patriarchal stereotypes with professional achievements as a teacher, mathematician, scientist, and philosopher. While her professional achievements are reasonably well documented, little is known about her personal life. The 2009 movie Agora starring Rachel Weisz presents one fictionalized account of her personal life; Buried presents a different fictionalized account. However, although Buried is a work of fiction, it provides abundant, well documented factual details about Hypatia and, on a larger scale, about ordinary daily life in the Roman Empire. Numerous characters based on real people are portrayed according to known facts. Scenes are realistically described and range from various urban and rural Mediterranean settings to the once-important city of Augusta Raurica in modern Switzerland. (Augusta Raurica is now a Roman archeological site and open-air museum that can be visited online or in person. I used the museum’s resources extensively, and the last time I checked, Buried was available in the museum’s bookstore. All of my sources for the novel are chronicled in the bibliography.)

Here are three reviews from the book’s Amazon page:

1) “Buried is a novel with compelling and believable characters and a plot that pulls you forward and makes you want to pick the book up again and again. But what I’m most impressed about is the range of knowledge about Roman times it reveals, from metal-working to boxing to the look of the countryside between Italy and Germany. This book satisfied both my fiction-reading and my learning-new-things sides. I recommend it highly.” – Margaret A. Miller
2) “I was truly impressed with Dr Troy’s depiction of life in the shadow of the waning Roman empire. Anyone looking to understand the evolution of religion in our world needs to understand human history and the way each system of belief evolved. But rather than write a long, boring essay, Dr Troy weaved a tale akin to a dramatic movie plot placed in very good historical context. The book started out exciting but slowed down greatly for me in the middle of it. However, towards the end, I was captive to the events that unfolded—depicting the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire. I found myself emotionally bound to the believable main characters and imagined myself in their shoes. This feat could only have been accomplished by Dr Troy’s amazing description of the smallest details and daily events. The ending is a roller coaster ride of emotions and made me truly glad to have read it! My reason for reading this book was understanding the demise of the pagan belief system in Rome and the rise of Christianity. This is a worthy (or essential) read for those studying religion and spirituality in a historical perspective.” – G. Koble
3) “I found this novel exciting, thoughtful and packed with well researched details of Roman civilization. It paints a fascinating picture of the period. The characters involve [the reader] in environments that run the gamut from being surprisingly familiar to quite the opposite. This novel makes you think, and it would make an exciting addition to a college level history course. It would encourage discussion of the many situations that differ from current norms. The author does an excellent job of addressing these with his ending comments.” –  Russw

E: I was born in 1939 in the small town of Appomattox, Virginia. My education led me to a PhD in English from Emory University. I taught at several universities but spent the last 30 years of my career at Lynchburg College. Since retirement I’ve published four books, all available on my Amazon author page. I’m currently (in 2016) co-writing a novel with Ellen Ross.

 Buried provides, I hope, an attention-grabbing and reasonably accurate journey into a distant time and place and a markedly different way of regarding the world. It demonstrates the surprising power of human intelligence, ingenuity, and creativity. It shows that political and social events in the 5th Century CE have remarkable parallels in the 21st Century.

Please keep in mind that the opinions in this book belong to fictional characters who saw Christians as enemies conducting a war against pagan civilization. Christians were the victors and have since written this era of history in their own terms. I tried to follow the example of Howard Zinn’s wonderful book, A People’s History of the United States, and write an alternative history of pagan civilization from the perspective of those who lost. The views expressed in the book are not necessarily my own.

SAMPLE CHAPTERSample chapters can be found by navigating to my Amazon page, <https://www.amazon.com/author/franktroy&gt;, then clicking on “Buried,” then clicking on the “Look Inside” tab directly above the image of the book.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon online.

PRICE: Currently $21.95 print, $5.99 Kindle.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I may be slow to respond to emails at <reader2357-1@yahoo.com>, but I will respond when I can.

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

One thought on “Buried”

  1. Interesting Summary and great reviews. I love it that he spent time researching. I enjoy reading fiction, especially knowing certain details are factual. I definitely feel I have learned something as well as being entertained when finished. I will have to check this one out.


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