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Pertinax

Empire Of Pleasures by Andrew Dalby

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I think it depends on what you want to learn about Rome. Many of us are drawn by the violent glory seeking we see in the arena or the battlefield. And despite the somewhat murderous decadance popularised by film and tv, many romans were simply trying to live good lives and have a great time in the process. Whilst AD's book firmly concentrates on the more arty pleasures (and so it should, given the title), the text also contains a lot of clues to roman nature and behaviour. Worth a read even if only to expand your roman consciousness, but also a reminder that Rome was not always blood and guts.

 

I'm really happy if I've given Caldrail and the Augusta some consciousness-expanding pleasure with Empire of Pleasures. When I decide to write a book, it's always partly in order to teach myself some things I didn't know, and the reading that I had to do for this book was really enjoyable. Roman and Greek sources mainly, but also, beyond that, I found myself hunting down early Welsh and Anglo-Saxon and Arabic and Armenian writings (in translation, I admit!) to see how the Roman Empire appeared to some of those who came along soon after.

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I personally found the leitmotif of lascivious gluttony and hedonistic excess most satisfying.

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I personally found the leitmotif of lascivious gluttony and hedonistic excess most satisfying.

Ah, well, yes, that was the most difficult part of the research, Pertinax! But I just steeled myself to the unfamiliar task and got on with it ...

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