A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities – Book Review
By Angela Youngman Oct 20, 2010, 16:57 GMT
Here is a whimsical and captivating collection of odd facts, strange beliefs, outlandish opinions, and other highly amusing trivia of the ancient Romans. We tend to think of the Romans as a pragmatic people with a ruthlessly efficient army, an exemplary legal system, and a precise and elegant language. A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities shows that the Romans were equally capable of bizarre superstitions, logic-defying customs, and often hilariously derisive ...more
The Romans are better known than any other ancient Western society. But what we know is sometimes bizarre.
McKeown has used his extensive knowledge of Roman life to create this collection "A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities" which is a mix of odd facts and outlandish opinions all of which have been obtained from original sources dating back to Roman times.
The collection is arranged in themes: the army, Woman, Religion and Superstition, Family Life, Medicine, Slaves, Spectacles. Dip and browse or read solidly - whichever you choose results in some unusual discoveries.
For example: The satirist Juvenal lists 'fires, falling buildings, and poets reciting in August as hazards to life in Rome" while Pliny referred to medical bills as a 'down payment on death'.
Cleopatra's cooks had to have several complete banquets at different stages of preparation, for they never knew when Antony might call for dinner to be served immediately.
The Emperor Septimus Severus was carried in a litter most of the way from Rome to northern England while Elgabalus used to give guests air cushions rather than normal cushions - then let the air out, so that the guests found themselves under the table.
It requires a bit of concentration but this book is definitely different to most books on Roman history - but it certainly brings the people alive!
FROM THE WEB
Further Reading on M&C
COMMENT on A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities – Book Reviewcomments powered by Disqus
Latest Headlines in Books
- 1. Book Review: Generation V
- 2. Book Review: The Babylon Rite
- 3. Book Review: Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Botswana
- 4. Book Review: The Sound of One Hand Killing
- 5. Book Review: A Mystic Garden