Lots of historo-intellectual fun for Antiquity enthusiasts. In her well-wrought essays Beard brings refreshing insight and deep scholarship to this flavorful collection covering most of the Ancient World Hit Parade from Homer to Asterix. Paging through it is like visiting old (ancient, in fact) friends.
A National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, this is “the perfect introduction to classical studies, and deserves to become something of a standard work” (Observer).
Mary Beard, drawing on thirty years of teaching and writing about Greek and Roman history, provides a panoramic portrait of the classical world, a book in which we encounter not only Cleopatra and Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Hannibal, but also the common people—the millions of inhabitants of the Roman Empire, the slaves, soldiers, and women. How did they live? Where did they go if their marriage was in trouble or if they were broke? Or, perhaps just as important, how did they clean their teeth? Effortlessly combining the epic with the quotidian, Beard forces us along the way to reexamine so many of the assumptions we held as gospel—not the least of them the perception that the Emperor Caligula was bonkers or Nero a monster. With capacious wit and verve, Beard demonstrates that, far from being carved in marble, the classical world is still very much alive.
About the Author
A professor of classics at Cambridge University, Mary Beard is the author of the best-selling SPQR and Women & Power and the National Book Critics Circle Award–nominated Confronting the Classics. A popular blogger and television personality, Beard is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.
Engaging…impressive… Through her lively discussion of modern scholarship, Ms. Beard succeeds in her goal of proving that study of the Classics is “still a ‘work in progress’ not ‘done and dusted’."
These reviews are ideal for providing a basic understanding of classical studies, as they not only pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of the books she reviews but also elucidate the sometimes tricky nuances of current approaches in the field…. Not to be missed by fans of Beard, this will also appeal to readers generally interested in classical studies.
Many of us studied classics not only to read what was written in Latin, but also because poets, writers, and thinkers had blazed a brilliant trail. Beard conveys in her survey of the subject and the people who study it the excitement and romance of that tradition. For someone who has argued vehemently against the need to be glamorous, she makes the study of classics irresistibly attractive. — A.E. Stallings
With such a champion as Beard to debunk and popularise, the future of the study of classics is assured.
Beard’s essays in this volume range from humor in ancient Greece to the reputation of the emperor Caligula to the restoration of Roman sculpture. She writes with grace and wit on a vast array of subjects, and she has a novelist’s gift for selecting odd and revealing details. — Nick Romeo