Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures, and Innovationsby Mary Beard
A National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, this is “the perfect introduction to classical studies, and deserves to become something of a standard work” (Observer).Mary Beard, drawing on thirty years of teaching and writing about Greek and Roman history, provides a panoramic portrait of the classical world, a book in which we encounter/p>/em>
A National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, this is “the perfect introduction to classical studies, and deserves to become something of a standard work” (Observer).Mary Beard, drawing on thirty years of teaching and writing about Greek and Roman history, provides a panoramic portrait of the classical world, a book in which we encounter not only Cleopatra and Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Hannibal, but also the common people—the millions of inhabitants of the Roman Empire, the slaves, soldiers, and women. How did they live? Where did they go if their marriage was in trouble or if they were broke? Or, perhaps just as important, how did they clean their teeth? Effortlessly combining the epic with the quotidian, Beard forces us along the way to reexamine so many of the assumptions we held as gospel—not the least of them the perception that the Emperor Caligula was bonkers or Nero a monster. With capacious wit and verve, Beard demonstrates that, far from being carved in marble, the classical world is still very much alive.
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Meet the Author
A professor of classics at Cambridge University, Mary Beard is the author of the best-selling The Fires of Vesuvius and the National Book Critics Circle Award–nominated Confronting the Classics. A popular blogger and television personality, Beard gave the Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. She lives in England.
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Starting with thought provoking introduction on the future of classical studies, this book is primarily an interesting collection of book reviews. Beard's introduction on classical studies was based on quite a bit of qualitative information and references, and worth of more thorough analysis. For example, how many classical studies majors are awarded now compared to 20 or 50 years ago, what would be an objective measure of the quality of those students and their work? With the growth of new fields over the past 200 or so years from astrochemistry to nuclear physics it is clear some of the older fields will attract a smaller proportion of new graduates. But what is not clear is the impact of new educational trends such as STEM who's goal is to focus study on specific fields. That note aside, I found it a good source to build my winter reading list.