‘A brilliant idea, brilliantly executed.’
A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Murder in Ancient RomeEmma Southon
‘Those left cold by the sober tones of scholarship will find this voice liberating and intoxicating. Its energy is boundless and its range immense.’ Wall Street Journal
In Ancient Rome all the best stories have one thing in common – murder. Romulus killed Remus to found the city, Caesar was assassinated to save the Republic, Caligula was butchered in the theatre, Claudius was poisoned at dinner.
But what did killing really mean in a city where gladiators fought to the death to sate a crowd? Emma Southon examines real-life homicides from Roman history to take us inside Ancient Rome’s unique culture of crime and punishment, and show us how the Romans viewed life, death, and what it means to be human.
‘Southon brings some great and little-known murder stories to light, revelling in the bizarre and the macabre.’
‘She has a rare gift… Those left cold by the sober tones of scholarship will find this voice liberating and intoxicating. Its energy is boundless and its range immense… At a moment when the study of classics struggles to escape its starchy, imperialist legacy, Ms Southon’s cheeky enthusiasm feels like the path of salvation.’
‘Blood, guts, murder, emperors and a sprinkling of uplifting Latin. A wonderful book on the Roman way of death. Mirabile dictu!’
‘I love this funny, scholarly, erudite, irreverent book; Emma Southon wears her learning lightly but we never for a moment doubt her authority, and the past arrives with total immediacy from the first page. Reading it is like seeing a classical statue not remote and austere on a pedestal, but painted in all its original bright colours.’
'The genius of Emma Southon’s new book, A Fatal Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum: Murder in Ancient Rome, is that it simultaneously humanizes the Romans and alienates us from them, portraying a society that’s at once a familiar ancestor and a rabid monster.'
‘this very approachable analysis of Classical homicide isn’t a dry academic tract… conversational and tongue-in-cheek without sacrificing scholarly credibility. A good chance to learn a lot and have fun doing it.’