Citizens of Long Ago: Essays on Life and Letters in the Roman Empire

Citizens of Long Ago: Essays on Life and Letters in the Roman Empire

Citizens of Long Ago: Essays on Life and Letters in the Roman Empire

Citizens of Long Ago: Essays on Life and Letters in the Roman Empire

Excerpt

Readers who value the classical humanities will very much like these final essays of Adeline Belle Hawes. Seven of the nine are concerned with personalities of the ancient Roman world attractive either in themselves or their associations. In Light Reading from the Roman Empire, the immortal Golden Ass ofApuleius is hardly more entertaining than the character and fortunes of its quick-witted and adventurous author himself. Fronto, the Friend of Marcus Aurelius, will always command our interest because of his nearness to the most appealing of emperors.Rutilius Namatianus, A Roman Poet of the Fifth Century, is an eloquent voice in appreciation of Rome the Mother at a time when the temporal powers of the Eternal City were already far on in their transformation to the spiritual. "The Emperor Julian" is made better known to us as the lover of letters, the mover in reform, and the victim of misjudgment as Julian the Apostate. In A Greek Satirist of the Roman Empire, we meet again Lucian of Samosata, whose sharp vision of what is behind the tattered mask of humanity has given the world some of its most famous drolleries. The human biographer of the most human of the Greeks and Romans receives his due in Plutarch in his Essays where he is presented to us as the delightfully gracious and kindly old gentleman who has travelled much, who has known "beautiful Rome," but who has never thought of making a home elsewhere than in his dull native Chaeronea, the "town already so small that he could not bear to make it smaller by the loss of a single citizen." In A Spanish Poet in Rome, we learn to know better the quick-eyed and keen-witted Martial, the stuff of whose epigrams is the variegated humanity of the great capital. If the two remaining essays do not so distinctly center about single figures, Little Citizens of Long Ago and Charities and Philanthropies in the Roman Empire are still of the deepest human interest in their appeal to our love of children and our appreciation of generous motives.

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