Robert Harris continuity error? Tiro freed in both Lustrum and Dictator?

Brian G Turner

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#1
As with the rest of the series so far - Imperium, Lustrum - Dictator is top notch, with a wonderful and fluid easy style that somehow captures a sense of Ancient Rome without drowning the reader in infodumps.

However, I was thrown completely out of the text when Cicero made the narrator, Tiro, a free man - because he already did that (apparently) at the end of Lustrum.

Either I've completely misunderstood what was required, or else Harris did and so had to redo it in Dictator, or else Harris completely ballsed up on a continuity issue.

Does anyone know which of us is making the error?
 

reiver33

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#2
I read these fairly recently, and would recommend them, but as I remember it was promised, but didn’t actually materialise, at the end of Lustrum. Cicero kept finding reasons why Tiro was indispensable - and he’d be safer as a slave...
 

Brian G Turner

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It's probably because I'm reading them back to back that it really stands out for me. This is the passage on the second to last page of Lustrum:
'So, Tiro,' said Cicero, after she had gone to fetch Marcus from the nursery to say goodbye, 'as my last act in this city, I would like to give you your freedom. I really should have done it years ago - at the very least when I left the consulship - and the fact that I didn't was not because I set no value on your services, but on the contrary because I valued them too much, and could not bear to lose you. But now, as I am losing everything else, it's only fair that I should say goodbye to you as well. Congratulations, my friend,' he said, shaking my hands, 'you have earned it.'

For years I had waited for this moment - I had yearned for it and dreamed of it and planned what I would do - and now it had arrived, almost casually it seemed, out of all this ruin and disaster. I was too overwhelmed with emotion to speak. Cicero smiled at me, and then embraced me as a I wept, patting my back as if I were a child that needed comforting, and then Atticus, who was standing watching, took my head and shook it warmly.

I managed to say a few words of thanks, and added that of course my first act as a free man would be to dedicate myself to his service, and that I would stay at his side to share his ordeal, whatever happened.
Afterwards, Tiro finds his savings to purchase the freedom of the slave, Agathe - which does not strike me as the act of a slave, especially when he's waited until he thought he was a freedman to act. Later in Dictator it's mentioned - just after Tiro is pronounced free a second time - that Tiro did indeed buy Agathe's freedom.
 

reiver33

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#4
I don’t remember any formal ceremony concerning the granting of freedom, which I would have expected to be documented, which is probably why it didn’t register. Either that or Cicero changed his mind and put his own interest first.
 

Brian G Turner

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#5
There was a formal ceremony in Dictator, but until that point there's no mention of Tiro having been freed at all. Which is odd because it's a key drive of Tiro in Lustrum to be granted his freedom, so the passage above, coming in the last couple of pages of the book, feels like his (somewhat limited) character arc has come to a conclusion. It's also witnessed by Atticus, who plainly seems to think Tiro has been freed as well.

I've asked Robert Harris on Twitter about this, but I won't hold out for a reply.
 
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#6
Love the Cicero trilogy. I read them last year and didn't notice this one. Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if this were something Harris simply forgot about. Bear in mind, he wrote two other books between Lustrum and Dictator, with the former coming out in 2009 and the latter coming out in 2015. That perhaps explains some of the other weird inconsistencies - for example, the fact that he kind of forgot about Lucullus and Hortensius, which is a real pity because Hortensius in particular was a really cool character and I liked his dynamic and begrudging allegiance to Cicero. Neither was really essential to the narrative but they were cool additions.

However, Is it possible he just released Tiro from his service in Dictator instead of formally freeing him? If I remember right this was when he left Tiro behind on the island when he was on his big rush back to Rome. Then again, don't have the copy with me atm so I can't check.
 

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