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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 168

1. Images of light and dark occur throughout the novel. What are the various meanings of these images? How does the conflict between light and dark reach its height at the climax of the novel?

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2. Dynamic characters change as a result of their experience. Discuss the ways in which Marcus matures in the novel. How has he changed by the end of the story, and what has brought about this change?

3. Placidus serves as a foil for Marcus; that is, the strong contrast between the two characters' personalities highlights Marcus's distinctive qualities. Detail how Placidus serves as a foil and discuss any other characters who serve as foils in the novel.

4. A historical novel can deepen our awareness not only of the past but also of our own culture. Discuss parallels between second-century Roman culture and twentieth-century American culture. What lessons does Marcus learn that remain relevant today?

5. The story does not have a traditional happy ending. Discuss how its ending fits the framework of a realistic historical novel.

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