Where in the world is….

Thrace! Some readers have commented to me privately that they weren’t exactly sure where Doricha, the protagonist of HETAERA: Daughter of the Gods, hailed from.

Rhodopen_Balkan_topo_de

Originally, Dori was from Thrace, an area northeast of Greece with somewhat nebulous borders. Thracian people were roughly segregated into tribes or villages and are considered by some to be “noble savages” (loud drinking, singing and fighting) and athletic peoples. In the map above, the Rhodopis mountains are highlighted. I tried to depict them as large and lusty, and authentically passionate about their lives and their gods which seemed to fit the story.

Wikipedia has a pretty succinct description of the area:

The historical boundaries of Thrace have varied. Noteworthy is the fact that, at an early date, the ancient Greeks employed the term “Thrace” to refer to all of the territory which lay north of Thessaly inhabited by the Thracians,a region which “had no definite boundaries” and to which other regions (like Macedonia and even Scythia) were added.In one ancient Greek source, the very Earth is divided into “Asia, Libya, Europa and Thracia”.

Typically, Thracians did not think of themselves as such, but in order to define herself as different than the neighboring Greeks, I had Dori making the distinction between Thrace and Greece throughout the book. I don’t consider that to be out of context. Even in modern times, people define themselves by their indigenous culture–whether it’s the country they hail from or the sports team they “pull” for.

And speaking of sports (of a sort!) one of the most infamous Thracians was…Spartacus!

Spartacus was a Thracian auxiliary soldier who deserted from the Roman army, was captured and enslaved, and led a revolt with an army of escaped slaves and gladiators that defeated many Roman legions in the Third Servile War. Gladiators were employed as a common sport of that time to amuse audiences with their physical prowess.

new-spartacus-trailer-released

I loosely modeled Dori’s father Delus off stereotypical “Spartacus” characteristics. Is it any wonder that Dori considers her father to be the finest soldier in the world? Looking at the new trailer for the new STARZ series, it’s no great surprise that Dori’s mother would be moved to join herself to Delus and sneak off from the temple, eh? Sign me up!

In a completely tangential coincidence, another famous Thracian was 5th century Greek physician Herodicus (tutor of Hippocrates) who is considered the “father of sports medicine”. Ha!