Ancient Rome matters. Its history of empire, conquest, cruelty and excess is something against which we still judge ourselves. Its myths and stories - from Romulus and Remus to the rape of Lucretia - still strike a chord with us. And its debates about citizenship, security and the rights of the individual still influence our own debates on civil liberty today.
SPQR is a new look at Roman history from one of the world's foremost classicists. It explores not only how Rome grew from an insignificant village in central Italy to a power that controlled territory from Spain to Syria but also how the Romans thought about themselves and their achievements and why they are still important to us.
Covering 1,000 years of history and casting fresh light on the basics of Roman culture, from slavery to running water, as well as exploring democracy, migration, religious controversy, social mobility and exploitation in the larger context of the empire, this is a definitive history of ancient Rome.
SPQR is the Romans' own abbreviation for their state: Senatus Populusque Romanus, 'the Senate and People of Rome'.
"She's pulled off that rare trick of becoming a don with a high media profile who hasn't sold out, who is absolutely respected by the academy for her scholarship...what she says is always powerful and interesting." (The Guardian)
"An irrepressible enthusiast with a refreshing disregard for convention." (Financial Times)
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Very very highly. Mary Beard has provided me with a much needed overview of Roman history. It's a cleverly crafted book, moving steadily forward through the historical dimension but pausing from time to time to explore the big themes in depth or to meet the big characters. And it's not just the big names it introduces us to; some of the most moving episodes concern ordinary people whose lives we can only glimpse through the archaeology, perhaps an inscription on a gravestone.The author always tells us what evidence lies behind the historical consensus, sometimes questioning it and sometimes admitting to lack of conviction. It was often funny and irreverant and never dull or self important.
Other good histories such as Robert Goodwin's Spain.
A model narrator. She animates Mary Beard's prose (which hardly needs animating) and, importantly, stays in the background.
Interesting and erudite
Mary Beard is one of our leading Classical scholars and yet this is a very entertaining and readable (or listenable) book. Rather than being a flighty survey of the period, Beard provides an accessible, clear and interesting broad account of Rome without watering it down.
Beard's use of recent scholarship within a solid survey of the period.
Pompeii by Mary Beard. Another fine performance.
Probably not - you would want to dip into this and reflect before moving onto the next chapter in order not to be overwhelmed by the depth of the text.
- Mr. D