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Roman books: the empire strikes back

Updated on November 9, 2010

Scipio, Pompeii, Caesars, palaces, legions, barbarians, gladiators... What makes ancient Rome's attraction so powerful? What makes it so constant? Robert Graves's books have been extremely popular, but in the last years the Empire's dominance has been greater than ever. Let's begin together a literary journey to the splendour of Rome... A journey that may well end at your very home, in front of a book!

Nothing more symbolic than beginning with a triumph: Mary Beard's "the Roman Triumph" describes thoroughly the most important celebration in classical Rome. More than 300 were held in the 1000 years of roman history, and it constituted the paradigm of military commemoration in Europe in the centuries to come after the collapse of the Empire. The renowned Cambridge scholar explains some things which are even hard to believe: in the gigantic triumph held by Pompey the Great a bust of him was exhibited, which was entirely composed of pearls (Pliny the elder stated that it was "defeat of austerity, a triumph of luxury"). Many kings and queens were "invited" to take part in the parade (Arminius's woman Thusnelda, Zenobia the queen of Palmyra, Vercingetorix...), but the most famous of these Very Important Prisoners was one that did not attend any: Cleopatra. This did not prevent Augustus from exhibiting her - or rather a statue of her.

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    • Tiberius Claudius profile image
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      Tiberius Claudius 7 years ago

      I Claudius is an excellent book. I happened to read it last year, as well as "Claudius the God", the second part. Remarkable depiction of the roman Empire at his height and an astonishing insight in Claudius's psichology!

    • Tiberius Claudius profile image
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      Tiberius Claudius 7 years ago

      Don't worry, AJHargrove, next hub of this series -about books related to roman legions- follows. Just a little patience... By the way, I liked a lot you hub on Marcus Brutus!!!

    • AJHargrove profile image

      AJHargrove 7 years ago from USA

      I keep meaning to read I, Claudius...