This wonderful novel goes by the title "Vox Pop: Last Days of the Roman Republic" when published in the U.S. The title "Silence Among the Weapons" was used for European publications. I picked this novel up while on a kibbutz in Israel, and thoroughly enjoyed it for its combination of history, setting in theater, and splendid dialogue and wit. Though entertaining, this work also touches the spirit, mixing mirth with desolation and the sense of hollowness that only war can impress upon you.
The book flap calls the novel 'picaresque' which I learnt means that there is a bit of lewd behaviour, but by today's standard is barely adult.
John Arden was known as a playwright and this book comes across as a four act play.
The first book introduces you to the character Ivory who is an actor turned theater agent who finds himself embroiled in some nasty politics between two rival Roman parties whilst in Ephesus around 90 BC. (I visited Ephesus in 1996 - a wonderful archeological and tourist site.)
The second book takes you into southern Italy as Ivory tries to navigate the unrest rising throughout the countryside with his acting troupe. His companions are disbursed as chaos fills the land and concludes this book. (I also spent some time in the 'boot' of Itay - Arden aptly paints mayhem in this idyllic land).
Book three almost feels like a return to 'Moby Dick' as Ivory boards a crude little pirate ship of ancient Jews - his old life is gone and almost forsaken.
Finally the fourth book brings Ivory to the outskirts of Rome and perilously close to the Roman generals fighting the quasi civil war. The story ends up being tragi-comic, as despite the success of our hero, so much pain has been endured that you can't quite feel like anyone has triumphed.