What happens at the end of Imperium?

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By the end of Robert Harris's novel Imperium, the ancient Roman senator Marcus Tullius Cicero has been elected as consul, meaning one of the two most important politicians in the Roman Republic. By becoming consul, he becomes tremendously powerful, which is what gives the book its title ("imperium" is Latin for power).

Cicero was not a wealthy man, unlike the majority of other senators, and had to win the election by creating political alliances and by winning over the support of commoners using his great public speaking talents. Cicero is known to the other senators as a "new man," meaning that he does not have a long family history of wealth and politics and is disdained by the aristocratic patricians.

The last chapter of Imperium is dedicated to the election day itself, when the entire voting population of Rome gathers on the Field of Mars. Harris takes great pains to explain the political process in ancient Rome, which resembles aspects of contemporary politics but also has many unique facets. Cicero confuses his political enemies by making an alliance with a politician named Hybrida, with whom he had previously quarreled. This secures him enough votes to win the consulship, becoming the youngest consul in the history of the Roman Republic at the age of just forty-two, and achieving his life's great goal.

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