In SPQR, an instant classic, Mary Beard narrates the history of Rome "with passion and without technical jargon" and demonstrates how "a slightly shabby Iron Age village" rose to become the "undisputed hegemon of the Mediterranean" (Wall Street Journal). Hailed by critics as animating "the grand sweep and the intimate details that bring the distant past vividly to life" (Economist) in a way that makes "your hair stand on end" (Christian Science Monitor) and spanning nearly a thousand years of history, this "highly informative, highly readable" (Dallas Morning News) work examines not just how we think of ancient Rome but challenges the comfortable historical perspectives that have existed for centuries. With its nuanced attention to class, democratic struggles, and the lives of entire groups of people omitted from the historical narrative for centuries, SPQR will to shape our view of Roman history for decades to come.
Mary Beard is professor of classics at Newnham College, University of Cambridge. She is the author of eighteen books on society and culture in the ancient world, including Women and Power: A Manifesto (2017), The Roman Triumph (2007), and The Parthenon (2002). Since 1992 she has been the classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement, which also hosts her popular blog, A Don’s Life. Beard’s newest book, How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization (2018), looks beyond the familiar canon of Western imagery to explore the history of art, religion, and humanity, from prehistoric Mexico to modern Istanbul. The book contains text and images that complement her episodes in Civilisations, the epic BBC and PBS documentary television series that premiered earlier this year. Beard gave the Christina Huemer Lectureship at the Academy on September 25 that inaugurated the 2018–19 series of events, New Work in the Arts & Humanities: The Body. Titled “The Classical Body: The Naked and the Nude,” Beard’s talk was delivered to a packed house at the Villa Aurelia. (View the archived video at livestream.com.) As the Lucy Shoe Meritt Scholar in Residence, she returns to the Academy in the winter for eight weeks.