Literary Techniques

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Last Updated on May 10, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 175

Graves studied hard before writing Count Belisarius, as he had for I, Claudius. He was sick during much of the writing and struggled to meet the deadline for completion of the novel to which he and his publisher had agreed. The story is told as if it were a biography...

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Graves studied hard before writing Count Belisarius, as he had for I, Claudius. He was sick during much of the writing and struggled to meet the deadline for completion of the novel to which he and his publisher had agreed. The story is told as if it were a biography by Eugenius, beginning with the childhood of Belisarius and ending with Eugenius' musings about the merits of Belisarius' life. Graves himself called the book "a military manual," perhaps because of the many detailed accounts of battles and derring-do. But the novel is more than a fictionalized biography or a sensational account of ancient wars; it has a tone of fresh immediacy, as if its events happened only yesterday. Eugenius travels with Belisarius and Antonina on the military campaigns, and he writes as if each new event were only a day old, giving the narrative a "you are there" tone. The wealth of details about Belisarius' era blend into the novel's plot, enhancing the effect on the reader of visiting a very real, although unfamiliar, culture.

Literary Precedents

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Last Updated on May 10, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 73

Perhaps the most famous novel about conflicts between religious faith and public duty in the ancient world is Lew Wallace's Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ (1880), which focuses on a man's discovery of faith in the Roman Empire during the era of Christ's ministry. Another such book is The Robe (1942) by Lloyd C. Douglas. These books and Count Belisarius have in common fast, often violent, action and cruel tribulations for their main characters.

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