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SPQR: A Roman Miscellany, by Anthony Everitt, with Roddy Ashworth

London: Head of Zeus / Chicago: Trafalgar Square, 2015. Pp. x, 332. Notes, chron., biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 1781855692.

An Amusingly Informal Introduction to the Romans

The author of numerous works on ancient history, including biographies of Augustus and Hadrian, Prof. Everitt (Nottingham Trent), gives us a witty, insightful introductory guidebook to Roman history, myth, literature, and culture.

Neither a scholarly “Poets”, nor a trivia book, SPQR has more than a hundred short items, ranging in length from a few lines to several pages, about various aspects of Roman life and history. These are grouped loosely into nearly 30 “chapters”, beginning with “Foundations,” and taking us through such subjects as “City Life,” “Rome at War,” “Roman Wit,” “The Gods,” “Hannibal and Carthage,” “Seven Women,” “Poison,” “Slavery,” and, of course, “The Fall of Rome.”

Individual entries, which often include a little commentary, and frequent bits of dry wit, range from biographical and historical profiles to brief discourses on architecture, plumbing, and engineering, and from household tips, hangover recipes, and the minutia of daily life, to soldiering, poetry, and more.

Although the seasoned student of Rome and the Romans will probably not find much that is new or startling in SPQR, it would make an excellent “first book” on the subject for the layman or younger person.

Note: SPQR is also available in paperback, $14.95 paper, ISBN 978-1-78185-941-4, and as an e-book, ISBN 978-1-78185-568-3

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