Sam booked tickets a while ago to see Mary Beard speak about her new book, Emperor of Rome. Sam's always been fascinated with Rome (the empire, that is; we could take or leave the city) and is a fan of Beard in her own right, so we snatched up tickets early.
I haven't read the book yet (though it's on my list, and Sam managed to snag an autographed copy), but Beard's thesis during the talk was that Roman emperors were, while extraordinarily accessible to regular folks, also themselves regular folks—fallible, idiosyncratic, hopelessly diseased—doing their best to hold onto power. The idea of Roman emperorship, in effect, was to "through autocracy, turn democracy into a sham."
At the end, there was time for a few questions—none generated much controversy but they were all well-asked and worth asking. Whether any of what she wrote could be a reflection on current leadership is, I suspect, a question she wouldn't have answered.
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Books I read in 2021
A list of all of the books that I read in 2021.
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