A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the Worlds Greatest Empire by J.C. McKeownHere is a whimsical and captivating collection of odd facts, strange beliefs, outlandish opinions, and other highly amusing trivia of the ancient Romans. We tend to think of the Romans as a pragmatic people with a ruthlessly efficient army, an exemplary legal system, and a precise and elegant language. A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities shows that the Romans were equally capable of bizarre superstitions, logic-defying customs, and often hilariously derisive views of their fellow Romans and non-Romans.
Classicist J. C. McKeown has organized the entries in this entertaining volume around major themes--The Army, Women, Religion and Superstition, Family Life, Medicine, Slaves, Spectacles--allowing for quick browsing or more deliberate consumption. Among the books many gems are:
- Romans on urban living:
The satirist Juvenal lists fires, falling buildings, and poets reciting in August as hazards to life in Rome.
- On enhanced interrogation:
If we are obliged to take evidence from an arena-fighter or some other such person, his testimony is not to be believed unless given under torture. (Justinian)
- On dreams:
Dreaming of eating books foretells advantage to teachers, lecturers, and anyone who earns his livelihood from books, but for everyone else it means sudden death
- On food:
When people unwittingly eat human flesh, served by unscrupulous restaurant owners and other such people, the similarity to pork is often noted. (Galen)
- On marriage:
In ancient Rome a marriage could be arranged even when the parties were absent, so long as they knew of the arrangement, or agreed to it subsequently.
- On health care:
Pliny caustically described medical bills as a down payment on death, and Martial quipped that Diaulus used to be a doctor, now hes a mortician. He does as a mortician what he did as a doctor.
For anyone seeking an inglorious glimpse at the underside of the greatest empire in history, A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities offers endless delights.
Aaron Mahnke's Cabinet of Curiosities
A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities by J.C. McKeown
Much like actual cabinets of curiosities, the book collects all kinds of notable tidbits from ancient Roman authors. Some are precious gems, some colorful corals and some just sort of weird-looking rocks. As McKeown so felicitously puts it:. I strongly suspect that goats do not breathe through their ears, and there are no islands in the Baltic Sea inhabited by people whose ears are so enormous that they cover their bodies with them and do not need clothes. Preface, pg. The chapters on medicine and religion are particularly replete with this kind of off-the-wall quasi-fact, and yes, they are all awesome, but even the entirely believable observations can be mind-blowing. Celsus On Medicine 5.
James McKeown has written a lighthearted miscellany that will serve as a wonderful gift for anyone who is fascinated by the Romans. There is no pretence in the preface either, where McKeown describes his efforts as a mere collection of observations about ancient Rome. McKeown is a natural teacher with an ear for an engaging anecdote. He knows how to sift through his vast knowledge of the ancients to present a story that will entertain and educate those listening. As such, this interesting volume will amuse the amateur and provide the expert with grand fodder for their classes; our students will enjoy hearing of these odd little facts and tales in the spare minutes after a lesson is done. McKeown has not pulled punches in his choice of anecdotes.
Here is a whimsical and captivating collection of odd facts, strange beliefs, outlandish opinions, and other highly amusing trivia of the ancient Romans. A Cabinet of Greek Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the Cradle of Western by J. C. McKeown Hardcover.
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Ebook Library. ProQuest Ebook Central. Click here for LLCC access. Please choose whether or not you want other users to be able to see on your profile that this library is a favorite of yours. Finding libraries that hold this item McKeown has provided us with an amazing jumble of information This amusing little collection would make a nice gift for graduating Classics majors or friends interested in Rome.