The emperor augustus

How the Aeneid was nearly destroyed

According to legend, Vergil declared of himself ‘Mantua me genuit, Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc Parthenope: cecini pascua, rura, duces.’ (‘Mantua bore me, Calabria took me; now Naples holds me: I sang of pastures, fields, and leaders.’) In her rigorously researched biography, the American classicist Sarah Ruden shows that this is largely true – even if the author of the Aeneid was in fact born 30 miles from Mantua, in a little village called Andes, in 70 BC.  Ruden must necessarily rely on Vergil’s most influential biography, written by Suetonius more a century after his death. And there’s no reason to doubt the skeleton of Suetonius’s life: that Vergil was unmarried,

Julius Caesar’s assassins were widely regarded as heroes in Rome

It’s not as if Julius Caesar wasn’t warned about the Ides of March. Somebody thrust a written prediction of the assassination at him as he marched to the Senate on the fateful day. Alas for Julius, as Peter Stothard notes in this gripping, gorgeously written new account of the killing and its consequences, the dictator stuffed it away, unread, into the folds of his toga. Secreted in the folds of his colleagues’ togas were the daggers that would shortly destroy him. The major themes of Roman (and therefore European) history are here writ large: tyranny vs freedom; politics vs self-preservation. We are at a crossroads in time when, if this