Book Review: SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard is such an immense read that I’m still reading it. I didn’t wanna wait to write about it though while experiencing just how important a read her words are given how germane history relates to our present and the total lack of historical awareness people have today.

I wonder if there’s a current correlation in world events? /sarcasm

Mary Beard is brilliant in her knowledge and writing of the material in detailing the magnitude of the subject of Rome. Her ability to question even her own hypotheses—or anyone else’s, especially the rich, white, male historians that dominated most of the historical examinations of the past—denotes what I feel personally must be applicable to most historical testimonies of the past, and definitely the present: That those who write history have a perspective grounded in the facts of their own privilege, including inherently is the very act of writing itself. That she compares and contrasts the information to present circumstances makes the writing all that more fascinating. She interrogates contextually from the marginalized mindset and persistently challenges historical perspectives not written in differing positions; that the writers of the time continually exaggerated and made mythical their own character and stories not in historical facts but in a privileged fantastical machismo.

What a shock. /sarcasm

To be completely and totally honest with you, I don’t know anything about Rome. The denseness of the information is overwhelming at times and her nonlinear-type writing style underscores my ignorance on the subject and makes me want to read and study more thoroughly—most especially anything Mary Beard writes on that discussion or any discussion in general.

I can only recommend this as a long-read over the course of several months, possibly a year; reading this as a daily devotion to knowledge, if you will, heightens the greatness and significance of it.

“Roman relations with neighbouring peoples are described on a similarly grand scale, complete with treaties, ambassadors and formal declarations of war. Their fighting too is presented as if it involved large-scale clashes between mighty Roman legions and equally mighty enemies: we read of the cavalry charging the opposing flanks, of the infantry being forced to yield, of the opposition driven to confusion … and various other clichés (or truths) of ancient battle. Indeed, this kind of language seeps into modern accounts of the period, many of which also confidently refer to such things as the ‘foreign policy’ of Rome in the seventh and sixth centuries BCE.”

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