To choose three themes to focus on represented in the book, under the development and transformation of social structures there is social and economic classes, for state-building, expansion, and conflict (political) there is political structure and forms of governance, and with the development and interaction of cultures is belief systems, philosophies, and ideas.
The first theme is under the “social” generalization and is the existence of social and economic classes presented in the book. It is obvious that during that time period, such classes would have already been developed into society. The placement of one in the social ladder would depend on both their wealth and the life they were born into. For example, there was a bottom class of slaves that were being sold among wealthier people, all the way up to the top classes, which were generally claimed by those who had a spot on the senate. Just to be granted a seat you had to be in possession of at least a million sesterces.
Cicero married into a family with riches far greater than that of his own, granting him enough money for a place on the senate. However, as Tiro did, one can work their way up on the social ladder differently. He was born “a household slave, born on the family estate in the hills near Arpinum, who had never even seen Rome (4)”, but by the time of Cicero’s death, Tiro was not known as a slave to him anymore, but instead, after travelling in his company for countless years, as the “secretary of the Roman statesman Cicero (3)” which is regarded much higher than a position of slavery.
A second theme running through the entirety of the book is one to do with politics, specifically having to do with political structure and forms of governance. It is obvious from the beginning that the Romans controlled their government in a form of a republic. The people did have a say in how they were being governed. To distribute power to avoid making a single person overly powerful, there were different branches of government.
Cicero was part of the Senate, which consisted of constantly changing opinions as “at the annual elections in July, twenty new senators were elected to replace those who had died in the previous year or had become too poor to keep their seats. (9)” However as proven by the corruption being brought on by the Roman governor Verres, it is understood that the system was flawed. He was able to commit crimes and influence the justice system in ways that would always keep him in the seat of innocence.
The third theme that had a connection to the novel was to do with the belief systems, philosophies, and ideas in Roman culture at the time. This theme could be approached with specific focus on the widespread philosophy of stoicism during that time period. Stoic artworks are unique in their seemingless lack of any emotion being shown in the faces of the subjects. Tiro went with Cicero to learn the philosophies so that Cicero would not be alone in his wisdom, and he would have a partner for discussing. and was privileged to hear Antiochus of Ascalon himself assert the three basic principles of Stoicism- that virtue is sufficient for happiness, that nothing except virtue is good, and that emotions are not to be trusted- three simple rules which, if only men could follow them, would solve all the problems of the world. (5)” Along with a number of other themes, these three themes represented social, political, and cultural aspects of how life was being displayed in ancient Rome in this factual historical novel.