Originally posted on Goodreads.com.
An excellent history of Ancient Rome running from its mythic past (both of the myths and of what literal events probably lay behind them) to Emperor Constantine’s acceptance of Christianity.
Beard follows the growth of the city from early tribal group near the Tiber, to its growth as a republic, to the transition into empire under the Caesars, noting thematic continuities and changes throughout. She also points out aspects of our modern culture, governments, and expectations between the two which originate in Rome. Because of the amount of historical resources available on the man and because he provides a centralizing pillar to the work, Beard gives special attention to Marcus Tullius Cicero, both politically and personally, as well as many other figures of fame or otherwise.
Through it all, Beard explores the interplay between the people and their governors, as is implied by the title SPQR – – “Senatus Populusque Romanus,” the senate and people of Rome. She treats the subject fairly, neither glorifying or deifying Rome beyond general historical appreciation or censure, as appropriate, and maintaining an even, earnest, and approachable tone throughout.