Scholia Reviews ns 9 (2000) 49.


Shannon N. Byrne
Ball State University.

Mary Beard and Michael Crawford, Rome in the Late Republic: Problems and Interpretations. London: Duckworth, 1999[2]. Pp. viii + 120. ISBN 0-71556-2928-X. UKú10.95.

There are few changes to the original book published by Beard and Crawford in 1985, which was outstanding not only for its thought-provoking discussions on what led to the downfall of the Republic, but also for its numerous and balanced bibliographical references in footnotes (despite including only English sources). What few changes have been made are welcome additions designed to incorporate some of the more important scholarship and debates that have occurred in the last fifteen years. Those who are familiar with and already using the text will want to continue to do so with this new edition.

As in the case of the first edition, this is not a book for beginners, a point the authors themselves make in the introduction (p. vi). This introduction now includes a brief account of what the authors would do differently if they were starting the project anew. They would still begin with a chapter on Roman culture and note the lack of cohesive work in English on Roman religion, though Beard has since filled that gap (with J. North and S. Price) with Religions of Rome.[[1]] Beard and Crawford also still doubt the efficacy of heroic biography, 'now more than ever convinced that the reassembled "life stories" of even the best documented characters of the period are worth more as fiction than as history' (p. vii). They would add discussions on the role of images and the physical structures of Rome, especially the affects of geography and space on political thought and motivation, and give more attention to cultural and political interaction.

These and other topics of importance that have gained attention since 1985 are expanded upon in a section entitled 'New Directions' (pp. 88-92), which follows the original epilogue. This supplement includes topics such as demography and the food supply, the impact of the process of Hellenization and the nature of Roman social culture, the recent debates on the democratic nature of Roman politics, and Romanization and cultural identity. The original appendix of literary sources in translation has been supplemented, and the size of the bibliography has been greatly increased with an addition of nine pages (the original was fourteen pages). Teachers and students are bound to appreciate and benefit from the second edition as much as they did the first.


[[1]] M. Beard, J. North, and S. Price, Religions of Rome. Two Vols. (Cambridge 1998).


B. H. Warmington, Suetonius: Nero. London: Bristol Classical Press, 1999[2]. Pp. xx + 88. ISBN 185399541-X. UKstlng10.95.

When Warmington first published this commentary in 1977, he provided upper-level Latin students with a valuable tool for gaining an understanding of and appreciation for ancient biography and historiography. Then as now the commentary is directed at historical material, and this is not a book for beginning or intermediate Latin students in need of grammar review. Advanced students, however, will find this text exceptionally beneficial for the historical information it contains, and for the concise introduction on Suetonius and ancient biography. The parallel passages cited in Tacitus and Dio are especially helpful for serious analysis of the life and times of Nero.

This second edition is a great improvement over the first not so much in terms of new scholarship and notes, although the text has been updated, but in terms of overall readability and presentation. The original type face has been completely reset, making the print much more easy on the eyes. The notes themselves have been better spaced, with each entry selected for comment given in bold print and separated from other entries, even those from the same sentence (the original text ran notes from the same sentence together, making for some unnecessarily long notes and unclear references). Some additional notes have been added (e.g. 6.4 has a new note for the words Britannici aemulum, and 21.2 has a new note on Cluvius Rufus instead of referring the reader to the introduction) and other notes have been modified (e.g. the entry in 21.3, tragoedias quoque . . . opis gratia now includes a word on the types of works Suetonius chose to discuss for Nero's literary output). The bibliography has been increased by four entries to include major works on Nero and Suetonius that have appeared since the original publication.[[1]]. These changes, however, are not nearly as important as the new appearance of the text, which takes a book of already high quality and makes it even better.


[[1]] B. Baldwin's Suetonius (Amsterdam 1983); K. Bradley's Suetonius' Nero (Brussells 1978); M. Griffin's Nero: The End of a Dynasty (London 1984); and A. Wallace-Hadrill's Suetonius (London 1983).