SPQR by Mary Beard is an academic book about Ancient Rome. I chose to read this book for many reasons; the most important being my interest in increasing my knowledge of history. Beard is a professor of classics at Oxford University. I thought her research would fill-in my vague memory about famous emperors and ancient empires. This she most certainly accomplished and a vast deal more.
Drawing from ancient texts written by Cicero and many others not as widely quoted, the book begins with the mythical origins of Rome and concludes in 212 CE when every inhabitant of the Roman empire was granted citizenship.
The famous, infamous, inanimate, and a wide range of unknowns play parts in the telling of this interesting history. In addition to a volume of research, SPQR contains many supporting photos, maps, and charts.
By reading this book, I learned many new facts about ancient Rome. I never knew half of the children died prior to the age of ten years. Nor did I know the famous quote “Et tu, Brute?” originally came from Shakespeare’s quill. I did not know the story behind the Rape of the Sabine Women. Did you know that several of the Senators wounded each other while attempting to assassinate Julius Caesar who tried to defend himself with his pen? Discovering that infanticide was common practice was very upsetting. These tidbits are a small sample of the information contained in this volume.
This is a lengthy book which I am proud to say I chose not to abandon. I was not disappointed and accomplished my goal of increasing my knowledge of ancient Rome. If this is a subject of interest to you, I recommend this book. I am impressed with the extensive research which went into it.