The stories have been selected for the insights that they give us into the ancient world, with its different perspectives on life, honor, and personal relationships. Many of the tales seem outrageous (such as a statue being tried for murder), though to the ancients these were normal enough. As the author comments, "human nature has not changed much over the last three thousand years, but the manner in which it finds expression is sometimes dramatically different."
In these pages we find humorous quips by the emperor Augustus and wry observations by the philosopher Socrates. There are stories of ghastly crimes, incredible journeys, and some bizarre military mishaps, like the Macedonian troops who rushed to storm the walls of a Greek city, only to find that their ladders were six feet short.
Did you know that ...
- a Roman suffering from illness might be cured if rubbed all over with a puppy
- lentils cooked in saffron were a popular Greek aphrodisiac
- in the Roman marriage ceremony, the groom parts the bride's hair with a spear
- Caesar's horse had toes
Bread and circuses were what the Romans demanded of their emperors, and for more than 500 years spectacular events in amphitheaters, circuses, and theaters were the most important leisure activities of the masses in all parts of the Roman empire. In Rome itself, public holidays featuring magnificent and costly shows occupied more than half the year. Comedies and tragedies, pantomimes and bawdy folk plays were staged in the theaters, while in the arena of the Colosseum, opened in a.d. 80, gladiators fought in pairs or with wild animals to satisfy the blood lust of the crowd, and hundreds of thousands of race-goers packed the stands of the Circus Maximus to enjoy the thrills of chariot racing.The organization of games came to be part and parcel of electioneering in towns and cities and was increasingly used as a means to consolidate the power of the reigning emperor. Like the sports stars of today, the top gladiators, charioteers, and actors were folk heroes, and the power of their universal appeal was recognized and exploited by politicians and emperors alike. Two thousand years later, the Roman games may seem remote, but, as this superbly illustrated book shows, they satisfied the same need for excitement and hero-worship that gives rise to the intense media coverage of sports in our own time.
" Gripping . . . Everitt combines a classical education with practical expertise. . . . He writes fluidly."--The New York Times "In the half-century before the assassination of Julius Caesar . . . Rome endured a series of crises, assassinations, factional bloodletting, civil wars and civil strife, including at one point government by gang war. This period, when republican government slid into dictatorship, is one of history's most fascinating, and one learns a great deal about it in this excellent and very readable biography."--The Plain Dealer "Riveting . . . a clear-eyed biography . . . Cicero's times . . . offer vivid lessons about the viciousness that can pervade elected government."--Chicago Tribune "Lively and dramatic . . . By the book's end, he's managed to put enough flesh on Cicero's old bones that you care when the agents of his implacable enemy, Mark Antony, kill him."--Los Angeles Times
Introduction by Daniel J. Boorstin
Illustrations by Giovanni Battista Piranesi Edward Gibbon's masterpiece, which narrates the history of the Roman Empire from the second century A.D. to its collapse in the west in the fifth century and in the east in the fifteenth century, is widely considered the greatest work of history ever written. This abridgment retains the full scope of the original, but in a breadth comparable to a novel. Casual readers now have access to the full sweep of Gibbon's narrative, while instructors and students have a volume that can be read in a single term. This unique edition emphasizes elements ignored in all other abridgments--in particular the role of religion in the empire and the rise of Islam.
He found Rome made of clay and left it made of marble. As Rome's first emperor, Augustus transformed the unruly Republic into the greatest empire the world had ever seen. His consolidation and expansion of Roman power two thousand years ago laid the foundations, for all of Western history to follow. Yet, despite Augustus's accomplishments, very few biographers have concentrated on the man himself, instead choosing to chronicle the age in which he lived. Here, Anthony Everitt, the bestselling author of Cicero, gives a spellbinding and intimate account of his illustrious subject.Augustus began his career as an inexperienced teenager plucked from his studies to take center stage in the drama of Roman politics, assisted by two school friends, Agrippa and Maecenas. Augustus's rise to power began with the assassination of his great-uncle and adoptive father, Julius Caesar, and culminated in the titanic duel with Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
The world that made Augustus-and that he himself later remade-was driven by intrigue, sex, ceremony, violence, scandal, and naked ambition. Everitt has taken some of the household names of history-Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Antony, Cleopatra-whom few know the full truth about, and turned them into flesh-and-blood human beings. At a time when many consider America an empire, this stunning portrait of the greatest emperor who ever lived makes for enlightening and engrossing reading. Everitt brings to life the world of a giant, rendered faithfully and sympathetically in human scale. A study of power and political genius, Augustus is a vivid, compelling biography of one of the most important rulers in history.
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.
The assassination of Julius Caesar is one of the most notorious murders in history. Two thousand years after it occurred, many compelling questions remain about his death: Was Brutus the hero and Caesar the villain? Did Caesar bring death on himself by planning to make himself king of Rome? Was Mark Antony aware of the plot, and let it go forward? Who wrote Antony's script after Caesar's death? Using historical evidence to sort out these and other puzzling issues, historian and award-winning author Stephen Dando-Collins takes you to the world of ancient Rome and recaptures the drama of Caesar's demise and the chaotic aftermath as the vicious struggle for power between Antony and Octavian unfolded. For the first time, he shows how the religious festivals and customs of the day impacted on the way the assassination plot unfolded. He shows, too, how the murder was almost avoided at the last moment.
A compelling history that is packed with intrigue and written with the pacing of a first-rate mystery, The Ides will challenge what you think you know about Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire.