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Damiano Leone
Il simbolo
A historical novel
ISBN 978-88-97308-44-7
616 pages, € 23,00

Damiano Leone
The symbol

A little kid, a prostitute’s son, is born in a Palestine besieged by Roman troops. At the same time, another boy is born who will go down in history as Jesus of Nazareth. Their lives couldn’t be any more different, and yet they are bound to cross at the characters’ darkest hour.
Turned to prostitution, young Ben Hamir finds some solace in the affection of a slave tasked with mentoring him. Forced to flee from Palestine, after a very educational time in Athens Ben Hamir conquers Rome – or, at least, the hearts of its matrons – and becomes a much-desired guest amidst the Roman élite.
The young protagonist is introduced to the heart of Roman politics, and he ultimately becomes intimate with Tiberius himself. From this friendship, though, he learns that fate can be treacherous. When the Emperor bids him to go back to Palestine, Ben Hamir finds that a new love and an old one are waiting for him – as well as the fierce hatred of his arch-enemy, Pontius Pilate.
A seemingly trivial act will twist the plot, leading the protagonist to give up luxury and lust to live an ordinary life.
Rome, though, has other plans for him: Ben Hamir will be forced to work as an Imperial informer – a task he deeply abhors. The events he witnesses will be beyond imagination.

From the back cover:

This book presents a vivid, vast fresco, telling the story of some of the historical figures that would change the future of the Western world for millennia to come.

Shifting in tone from irony to tragedy, the novel brims with minor – but factual – rumours from the 1st century A.D. The narrator/protagonist is an unusual and engaging character. On his journey across Jerusalem, Athens, Rome and Egypt, this singular anti-hero will struggle to outlive the danger of treachery and games of power, while countless lovers of both sexes disclose their most scabrous desires to him.

Damiano Leone was born in Trieste in 1949.
The scientific nature of his studies and education led him to devote his career to technical subjects, at least at first.
His job and his passion drove him to plunge into the study of ancient history, arts, and literature: a three-decade long passion that Leone nurtured with countless visits to museums and archaeological sites all over Europe.
Upon retirement, he moved to a mountain village in Friuli and finally had the time and peace of mind to fulfil his never-forgotten literary dreams.
He finished his historical novel, Enkidu, in 2012. In 2015, Leone published Lo spettatore (“The spectator”).


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