SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

Mary Beard / Dec 08, 2019

SPQR A History of Ancient Rome 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

  • Title: SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
  • Author: Mary Beard
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 236
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • 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 newAncient 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.

    • SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome « Mary Beard
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      Published :2019-09-21T10:08:40+00:00

    About "Mary Beard"

      • Mary Beard

        Winifred Mary Beard born 1 January 1955 is Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge and is a fellow of Newnham College She is the Classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement, and author of the blog A Don s Life , which appears on The Times as a regular column Her frequent media appearances and sometimes controversial public statements have led to her being described as Britain s best known classicist.Mary Beard, an only child, was born on 1 January 1955 in Much Wenlock, Shropshire Her father, Roy Whitbread Beard, worked as an architect in Shrewsbury She recalled him as a raffish public schoolboy type and a complete wastrel, but very engaging Her mother Joyce Emily Beard was a headmistress and an enthusiastic reader.Mary Beard attended an all female direct grant school During the summer she participated in archaeological excavations this was initially to earn money for recreational spending, but she began to find the study of antiquity unexpectedly interesting But it was not all that interested the young Beard She had friends in many age groups, and a number of trangressions Playing around with other people s husbands when you were 17 was bad news Yes, I was a very naughty girl At the age of 18 she was interviewed for a place at Newnham College, Cambridge and sat the then compulsory entrance exam She had thought of going to King s, but rejected it when she discovered the college did not offer scholarships to women Although studying at a single sex college, she found in her first year that some men in the University held dismissive attitudes towards women s academic potential, and this strengthened her determination to succeed She also developed feminist views that remained hugely important in her later life, although she later described modern orthodox feminism as partly cant Beard received an MA at Newnham and remained in Cambridge for her PhD.From 1979 to 1983 she lectured in Classics at King s College London She returned to Cambridge in 1984 as a fellow of Newnham College and the only female lecturer in the Classics faculty Rome in the Late Republic, which she co wrote with the Cambridge ancient historian Michael Crawford, was published the same year In 1985 Beard married Robin Sinclair Cormack She had a daughter in 1985 and a son in 1987 Beard became Classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement in 1992.Shortly after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, Beard was one of several authors invited to contribute articles on the topic to the London Review of Books She opined that many people, once the shock had faded , thought the United States had it coming , and that w orld bullies, even if their heart is in the right place, will in the end pay the price 4 In a November 2007 interview, she stated that the hostility these comments provoked had still not subsided, although she believed it had become a standard viewpoint that terrorism was associated with American foreign policy 1 In 2004, Beard became the Professor of Classics at Cambridge 3 She is also the Visiting Sather Professor of Classical Literature for 2008 2009 at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has delivered a series of lectures on Roman Laughter 5


    1. I have a weird thing with acronyms. The minute I see one, I start thinking what it might stand for, and there are no rational limitations to what that particular grouping of letters might encompass.Needless to say, when I picked up SPQR, my brain exploded…I mean, how often do you get an acronym with a Q in it?! Sure, there are some limitations with that, but also possibilities that don’t generally arise. To wit—here is what I thought this book might be about before I actually read the subt [...]

    2. Mary Beard writes about how Rome grew, not about why it collapsed. That focus is rare in books about Rome. And she doesn't look at Rome out of admiration, or as a guide to how the world works (the past repeats in the present, etc) "The Romans were as divided about how they thought the world worked, or should work, as we are. . . .There is no simple 'Roman' model for us to follow (p. 535).") She writes about the Romans because they are interesting, because they left us a considerable record, and [...]

    3. In spite of her incessant, unsubstantiated opinions, in spite of her chatty conjectures, in spite of her tenuous statements directly followed by her own contradictory analytics, (Mary loves talking to herself) in spite of the absolutely needless references to contemporary culture and politicians, Mary Beard's "SPQR" is worth reading with a golf-ball size grain of salt if one is a devout Roman history nerd, a blizzard is raging outside your window and the snowplows have yet to drop by.Somehow, en [...]

    4. Given the 5o years Mary Beard poured into the crafting of this book, and my own interest in the subject matter, I was tempted to give this four stars, but kept getting hung up by the author's decision to fall sway to the modern trends in academia of giving a postmodernist veneer to any narrative. Plenty of reviewers have given Beard the equivalent of four or five stars, but when someone says this is a definitive history of Rome from the pre-republic kings to Caracalla, I'd have to say "No, not r [...]

    5. Books that span 1000 years of Roman history are usually about the empire’s decline; this one is how Rome was built. Mary Beard’s sweep of events goes beyond the consuls, senators, generals and emperors to cover the lives of their spouses, the middle class, the poor, and the slaves. She tells what is known and what is not.Starting with Romulus and Remus she gives exactly the background the general reader wants. She tells the purported story of their mother; their mother’s explanation for th [...]

    6. "SPQR" tells the history of the first millennium of ancient Rome--from the mythical Romulus and Remus in the 8th Century BCE to 212 CE when Roman citizenship was given to every free inhabitant of the empire by Caracalla. SPQR stands for the phrase "Senatus Populusque Romanus", meaning "The Senate and People of Rome". Quite a bit of information is included about the lives of the lower classes, slaves, women, and people in the far-flung provinces of the Roman empire in addition to the history of t [...]

    7. Let's get this out of the way: this is in no way a history of ancient Rome; this is a history of Rome from its mythical founding up till the year 212. It's heavily biased towards the Republic and the transition to Imperial structures, so you learn virtually nothing about the last, say, 150 of the years the book claims to cover. That's fine, but to say that Beard is breaking new ground by writing about the Republic and early Empire is ridiculous, and to give the book such a broad subtitle is simp [...]

    8. Senatus Populus Que RomanusRead by Phyllida NashDescription: By 63 BCE the city of Rome was a sprawling, imperial metropolis of more than a million inhabitants. But how did this massive city—the seat of power for an empire that spanned from Spain to Syria—emerge from what was once an insignificant village in central Italy? In S.P.Q.R Beard changes our historical perspective, exploring how the Romans themselves challenged the idea of imperial rule, how they responded to terrorism and revoluti [...]

    9. I recently resolved to start reading more nonfiction again. I used to read a ton of it but, for reasons I can't recall or explain, I stopped quite a few years ago, focusing entirely on fiction. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but I wanted to broaden my literary horizons again and to explore some areas I'd previously neglected.One of those areas is history and where better to start than with the ancient Romans? This book came recommended by a friend so I dove right in.One thing became clear q [...]

    10. Smart, smart, smart and so readable that you will be tempted to sit up all night in order to finish it. Not that I did, of course. Okay, I did. Because it is history written with common sense, a point of view and a healthy level of snark just to keep things interesting. I am not going to sprinkle quotes from SPQR throughout this review because spoilers, but just as an example of her common sense, read the account of Caligula's life and reign. Or Nero's. She isn't doing revisionist history --- ne [...]

    11. Fantastic! Mary Beard's history of the first thousand years or so of ancient Rome never flags, maintaining a brisk, engaging tone and offering a level of detail just right for a general audience. If you've previously read a bit about Rome, Beard's book probably won't offer much new information, but she has a knack for posing interesting questions, suggesting fresh juxtapositions, and presenting seemingly familiar stories in thought-provoking ways. I listened to the audio version of this, publish [...]

    12. "Roman historians complained about almost exactly the same issue as the modern historian faces: when they tried to write the history of this period, they found that so much of importance had happened in private, hater than publicly in the senate house or Form as before, that it was hard to know exactly what had taken place, let alone how to explain it."- Mary Beard, SPQRSenātus PopulusQue Rōmānus (SPQR)I've been reading a bunch of classics the last couple years. I'm right in the middle of the [...]

    13. 4 Stars - Fantastic bookSimply said, this book is a fascinating and unique way to learn about Ancient Rome. I’ve never read anything quite like this examination of Ancient Rome and that is the main reason I enjoyed it so much.Mary Beard distinguishes herSenatus Populusque Romanus (The Senate and People of Rome). She’s interested in Rome’s success not the typical “decline and fall.” Now, that’s not to say that she sugar coats Rome’s history by no means is that the case. However she [...]

    14. Extraordinary. A great book for someone like me, coming to Roman history with only basic prior knowledge - let's say Asterix-level knowledge (as we all know, SPQR stands for "sono pazzi questi romani" - these Romans are crazy). The book is so much more than a blood-and-sandles account of battles, patricide and betrayal. It covers the status of women. How the poor lived. How did Rome feed itself, where did it get its marble, where did the money come from, the people to populate the armies. How, i [...]

    15. I enjoyed this book immensely and found much new (to me at least) in it. In particular, Mary Beard carefully analyses the creation myth of Rome and finds it to be just that with no evidence for the existence of Romulus and Remus and not much more for its line of kings. Mary Beard is very hard on poor old Claudius as well as Cicero and other prominent figures. She writes fascinatingly on the growth of Rome from being a small village on the banks of the Tiber into a grand empire and on the evoluti [...]

    16. An excellent history of Rome's first thousand years for the general readerI have always been fascinated as to how one small town in central Italy came to dominate the whole Mediterranean for centuries. This book provides one attempt at an answer - insofar as there can be one.It is easy to read - one minute giving a broad overview, then illustrating it with a detail from the life of a real person. The text is augmented by diagrams, photos and maps to aid understanding and reinforce certain points [...]

    17. Originally posted on A Frolic Through FictionSo here’s a review from someone who has limited experience with nonfiction books, and zero experience with learning about Ancient Rome.I adore learning about history – but I am by no means a “history buff”. I can’t remember names and dates for the life of me. I just remember the stories and find everything absolutely fascinating.So I was going into this book with a fairly average interest/knowledge rate. I knew vaguely of names and the fact [...]

    18. Es interesante, como habitantes de lo que denominamos "Occidente", conocer la antigua Roma, porque muchas de nuestras instituciones, conocimientos y costumbres (por no mencionar nuestro idioma) provienen de ellos. Eso no quiere decir que seamos romanos 2.0. Nos separan siglos e innumerables cambios, tanto sociales, como políticos, como culturales. Sin embargo, es muy interesante que ya entonces se enfrentaran a ciertos problemas que aún hoy se mantienen vigentes, como la multiculturalidad o qu [...]

    19. Fascinating. Not strictly chronological--starts with Cicero and Catiline: how Cicero "saved" Rome, then Roman history from its beginnings--two founding stories: Romulus and Remus & Aeneas up through Caracalla, who in 212 AD made every freeborn Roman automatically a citizen. Beard shatters many of our misconceptions. I enjoyed most the section on Pliny the Younger and on the "haves and have-nots"--rich and poor. Over half covered early Rome through the Republic, then why the Republic fell and [...]

    20. I was all ready to roll up my sleeves to outline some of my disappointments in this book but found that the words had already been taken out of my mouth. Here's an exceptional review, as I might have written! /review/showWhile I enjoyed it well enough, I felt there was just enough disorganization within it to leave me slightly annoyed with Beard's process.

    21. Although this book is unquestionably fun to read, it is truly dreadful. In a highly engaging style, Ms. Beard reviews most of what I learned forty years ago when I took an undergraduate course on Roman history. The new items however are considerably less than her distressing omissions.Ms. Beard repeats the same points about the historical sources that were explained to me in the mid 1970s. First, no new contemporary histories or written documents have appeared in over 1000 years. Second, Polybiu [...]

    22. There’s so much out there about the “Decline and Fall” of the Roman Empire, it’s kind of refreshing to have a book about the very origins. Most of it isn’t new to me, though the boundaries between fact and imperial fiction can be; I have a GCSE and an A Level in Classics, so I was aware of the foundation myths of Rome, the rape of the Sabine Women, the seven kings, etc. It was nice to get more context for that, to know more about the actual grounding in fact — and to learn about Rome [...]

    23. After fighting my way through the first hundred pages, much of which focuses on the limitations of historical sources and the myths Romans told themselves about their history, I skipped to the end to see if there was anything to salvage from this tome. On the penultimate page, Beard explains her purpose and made me think that I should have expended more effort with her book:"I no longer think as I once naively did, that we have much to learn directly from the Romans. But I am more and more convi [...]

    24. Mary Beard attempts to do the almost impossible: write a history of Rome that focuses on the "P" of SPQR (Senatus Populus Que Romanus), the Senate and thePeopleof Rome. When Rome is invoked, a sweeping narrative of crazy emperors, stoic senators, resplendence, and military conquest emerges. But Beard tries to show what life was like and how it changed for individual Romans, those at the top and at the bottom of an incredibly complex society. And she mostly succeeds at this difficult task.As a st [...]

    25. (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)So why have you not seen any new book reviews from me in something like a month now? Because I've been spending that entire time slogging my way through one single book, the 600-page SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by British historian and sometimes archaeologist Mary Beard, and wanted to go nice and slow so t [...]

    26. Beard shows us how Rome went from a village to a Republic to an autocratic empire. But rather than just the details of battles, headline events, and the sordid intrigues of the emperors, we get the big picture of Roman society. How did its institutions develop and change? What was its character? How did the Empire operate? What was it like to live there? What did liberty mean in Rome? How did the Republic come about? What led to its demise? Beard goes beyond the lives of the rich and famous to t [...]

    27. “Who could be so indifferent or so idle that they did not want to find out how, and under what kind of political organisation, almost the whole of the inhabited world was conquered and fell under the sole power of the Romans in less than 53 years, something previously unparalleled?” - Polybius

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