Historical Accuracy of Cultural Sensitivity?

Jun 2015
122
United States
#1
I don't know if this is the right place for this, but here goes-

I'm attempting to write a novel (historical fiction), but I've run into a bit of a snag.
One of the characters in it Septimius Severus- who, as far as I've researched, was African. His wife, Julia, I think, if I remember correctly, was half something and half Syrian(?) I think? And Geta and Caracalla were mixed from their parents.
Now, according to history, Septimius, Caracalla, and kind of Geta, were not the best of men. I want to exploit this in the book to spur on the plot (it's a political thriller sort of thing in Rome).
My question is; with how tense things have been lately, should I stay historically accurate, or try to curve things? I know people are easily offended these days, and as much as I WANT to stay accurate, I'm terrified of saying the wrong thing. Do you think people would be offended? Should I stay accurate with the information and keep to the historical personalities?
Please help. I don't want to try and publish something and then lose my chance due to something controversial.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,624
Australia
#3
Although your work is fiction it's based on real people and you must remain accurate to what we know of their character. No true student of history would be offended, neither would most other people, including those who enjoy historical fiction. Sounds an interesting plot so go for it. I would look forward to reading it.

I doubt any of the professional offence takers are the sort of people who read much anyway. :)
 

Robert165

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,266
North Georgia
#4
The Lonesome Dove books, particularly the 3rd book in the series, Comanche Moon, has a wide array of characters, American, Native America, African American, and Mexican and there is a mixture of people in each group, some tolerant and some not tolerant (of other groups). It's from a different time period of course but it handles the topic you speak of quite well.
 
Jun 2010
3,336
Colorado Springs (PA at heart)
#5
So you're worried making people of color or of mixed race antagonists in your book will offend people? I think anyone offended by that is being unreasonable, especially if you're sticking to known history. To think people of color can't be bad people is just as wrong as thinking all people of color are bad people, or that white people can do no wrong.
 

Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
9,104
here
#6
I don't know if this is the right place for this, but here goes-

I'm attempting to write a novel (historical fiction), but I've run into a bit of a snag.
One of the characters in it Septimius Severus- who, as far as I've researched, was African. His wife, Julia, I think, if I remember correctly, was half something and half Syrian(?) I think? And Geta and Caracalla were mixed from their parents.
Now, according to history, Septimius, Caracalla, and kind of Geta, were not the best of men. I want to exploit this in the book to spur on the plot (it's a political thriller sort of thing in Rome).
My question is; with how tense things have been lately, should I stay historically accurate, or try to curve things? I know people are easily offended these days, and as much as I WANT to stay accurate, I'm terrified of saying the wrong thing. Do you think people would be offended? Should I stay accurate with the information and keep to the historical personalities?
Please help. I don't want to try and publish something and then lose my chance due to something controversial.
Two things:

1. Because Septimius was African means he was a person of color? Here's another prominent African, but I don't think either one of was would call him a person of color.



Having said that, was Septimius someone us modern folks consider a person of color?



I really don't know, but it doesn't look like he was.

2. Whatever Septimius was, white or black, it shouldn't matter, tell your story. While some people out there allow the prevailing political culture to dictate what they read and watch, I'm not one of them and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.
 
Jun 2015
122
United States
#8
Two things:

1. Because Septimius was African means he was a person of color? Here's another prominent African, but I don't think either one of was would call him a person of color.



Having said that, was Septimius someone us modern folks consider a person of color?



I really don't know, but it doesn't look like he was.

2. Whatever Septimius was, white or black, it shouldn't matter, tell your story. While some people out there allow the prevailing political culture to dictate what they read and watch, I'm not one of them and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.
I get what you mean entirely and you are exactly right- but while I was researching Severus, I found an old family portrait- Severus.JPG
 
Jun 2015
122
United States
#9
So you're worried making people of color or of mixed race antagonists in your book will offend people? I think anyone offended by that is being unreasonable, especially if you're sticking to known history. To think people of color can't be bad people is just as wrong as thinking all people of color are bad people, or that white people can do no wrong.
I completely get and agree with that, and I thank you for the reassurance. I guess I've just been nervous, especially with the exceedingly hostile political environment. I've seen very high and prominent people fall (some deserved to) from accidentally (or purposefully- but again, they likely deserved it), saying something wrong, and having it blow up in their faces.
But thank you for your reassurance!
 
Jun 2015
122
United States
#10
The Lonesome Dove books, particularly the 3rd book in the series, Comanche Moon, has a wide array of characters, American, Native America, African American, and Mexican and there is a mixture of people in each group, some tolerant and some not tolerant (of other groups). It's from a different time period of course but it handles the topic you speak of quite well.
I'll look into that. It probably wouldn't hurt to see how things are handled there. Thank you!
 

Similar History Discussions