I’ve always been a huge fan of Mary Beard as a personality, but I’m shame faced to admit I’ve not read one of her books. I saw this a few weeks ago and decided to treat myself, and what a treat it is.
It’s an absolutely fascinating insight into the history and development of Rome. It delves into the formation of a small value in the banks of the Tiber from around 700 BCE and canters through to 212 CE with the Emperor Caracalla decreeing all free inhabitants of the Roman Empire to be Roman Citizens.
From the very start I was learning things afresh. Beard also dispels many myths that we have grown to assume as fact – for instance Caligula & Nero were not necessarily the absolute monsters that we think they were. She also investigates the ultimate myth of Romulus & Remus – the so called founders of Rome.
It’s obviously intelligently written, doesn’t dumb down and Beard doesn’t aim for the lowest common denominator. However it’s also free of academic jargon & pretentiousness. It’s an easy read that challenges you with each page. If you’re a fan of her current TV series – Ultimate Rome, then I thoroughly recommend you read this. It flashes out the series in Beard’s own, wonderful style.
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