chapter  14
14
Pages 15

I CONTINUED TO WORK on Spartacus. It was not easy, and what made it very difficult was that I was denied a passport and could not go to Italy. There were dozens of situations as the story progressed that I wanted to check out personally, and years later I prowled through the ruins of Pompeii again and again, seeing what I should have seen when I wrote Spartacus. The denial of a passport was inflicted on thousands of left-wingers, a curious commentary on our bitter criticism of the Soviet Union for the same practice. I studied Latin furiously. I spent hours with classical encyclopedias and I used whatever knowledge I could pluck out of others. I had, in one instance, Varinia - the wife of Spartacus - sing a lullaby to her baby, and I prodded Louis Untermeyer to give me the proper meter for the period. He told me to use the six-stress rhythm used in the ancient epics, but because it happened to be the same meter that Longfellow had used for Evangeline) a reviewer snottily condemned me for my ignorance, which in fact showed his ignorance. Somehow, the book was written, the story put down on paper, and for a second time, I told the story of a slave. The first time, it was the account of Gideon Jackson in Freedom Road, and now it was Spartacus. Strangely, both books sold millions of copies in the Third World and there has never been a year of my life since then when I have not had a request for a reprinting of Spartacus.