Ancient History & Civilisation

Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures, and Innovations

Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures, and Innovations

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.

Introduction: Do Classics Have a Future?

Section One: Ancient Greece

Chapter 1. Builder of Ruins

Chapter 2. Sappho Speaks

Chapter 3. Which Thucydides Can You Trust?

Chapter 4. Alexander: How Great?

Chapter 5. What Made the Greeks Laugh?

Section Two: Heroes & Villains of early Rome

Chapter 6. Who Wanted Remus Dead?

Chapter 7. Hannibal at Bay

Chapter 8. Quousque Tandem …?

Chapter 9. Roman Art Thieves

Chapter 10. Spinning Caesar’s Murder

Section Three: Imperial Rome – Emperors, Empresses & Enemies

Chapter 11. Looking for the Emperor

Chapter 12. Cleopatra: The Myth

Chapter 13. Married to the Empire

Chapter 14. Caligula’s Satire?

Chapter 15. Nero’s Colosseum?

Chapter 16. British Queen

Chapter 17. Bit-part Emperors

Chapter 18. Hadrian and his Villa

Section Four: Rome from the Bottom up

Chapter 19. Ex-slaves and Snobbery

Chapter 20. Fortune-telling, Bad Breath and Stress

Chapter 21. Keeping the Armies out of Rome

Chapter 22. Life and Death in Roman Britain

Chapter 23. South Shields Aramaic

Section Five: Arts & Culture; Tourists & Scholars

Chapter 24. Only Aeschylus Will Do?

Chapter 25. Arms and the Man

Chapter 26. Don’t Forget your Pith Helmet

Chapter 27. Pompeii for the Tourists

Chapter 28. The Golden Bough

Chapter 29. Philosophy meets Archaeology

Chapter 30. What Gets Left Out

Chapter 31. Astérix and the Romans

Afterword: Reviewing Classics

Further Reading


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