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Roman History Reads

Earlier this week, the library hosted a program called “Armchair Art Tour: the Grandeur That Was Rome,” which explored “ancient Roman art from the collections of New Jersey-area institutions including the Montclair Art Museum, the Newark Museum, the Princeton University Art Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” Since the art, culture, and history of Rome are too complex to fit into one program, we’ve put together a short reading list of highly rated and well-known books on these topics, including something written by an actual Roman emperor!



Amazon.com: 24 Hours in Ancient Rome: A Day in the Life of the People Who  Lived There (24 Hours in Ancient History Book 1) eBook : Matyszak, Philip:  Kindle Store

What was it like to live in one of the ancient world’s most powerful and bustling cities – one that was eight times more densely populated than modern day New York?

In this entertaining and enlightening guide, bestselling historian Philip Matyszak introduces us to the people who lived and worked there. In each hour of the day we meet a new character – from emperor to slave girl, gladiator to astrologer, medicine woman to waterclock maker – and discover the fascinating details of their daily lives.



Meditations of Marcus Aurelius offer a remarkable series of challenging spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the emperor struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. While the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation and encouragement, Marcus Aurelius also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a timeless collection that has been consulted and admired by statesmen, thinkers and readers throughout the centuries. Reflecting the emperor’s own noble and self-sacrificing code of conduct, this eloquent and moving work draws and enriches the tradition of Stoicism, which stressed the search for inner peace and ethical certainty in an apparently chaotic world.



Amazon.com: SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome eBook : Beard, Mary: Kindle  Store

Ancient Rome was an imposing city even by modern standards, a sprawling imperial metropolis of more than a million inhabitants, a “mixture of luxury and filth, liberty and exploitation, civic pride and murderous civil war” that served as the seat of power for an empire that spanned from Spain to Syria. Yet how did all this emerge from what was once an insignificant village in central Italy? In S.P.Q.R., world-renowned classicist Mary Beard narrates the unprecedented rise of a civilization that even two thousand years later still shapes many of our most fundamental assumptions about power, citizenship, responsibility, political violence, empire, luxury, and beauty.



The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic:  Duncan, Mike: 9781610397216: Amazon.com: Books

The creator of the award-winning podcast series The History of Rome and Revolutions brings to life the bloody battles, political machinations, and human drama that set the stage for the fall of the Roman Republic.



Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern (The  A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, Bollingen Series 35, 60): Beard,  Mary: 9780691222363: Amazon.com: Books

What does the face of power look like? Who gets commemorated in art and why? And how do we react to statues of politicians we deplore? In this book–against a background of today’s “sculpture wars”–Mary Beard tells the story of how for more than two millennia portraits of the rich, powerful, and famous in the western world have been shaped by the image of Roman emperors, especially the “Twelve Caesars,” from the ruthless Julius Caesar to the fly-torturing Domitian. Twelve Caesars asks why these murderous autocrats have loomed so large in art from antiquity and the Renaissance to today, when hapless leaders are still caricatured as Neros fiddling while Rome burns.



For questions about how to put these or any other books on hold, please leave a comment below, call the reference desk at 732-873-8700 opt. 3, or message us on our chat service.

Thanks for reading,
George, FTPL

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