Mary Beard is no ordinary scholar of classical history.
Just named as Royal Academy of Arts professor of ancient literature (a position first held by Samuel Johnson), she is also an exuberant and prolific public commentator who makes headlines for speaking her mind and fighting back against vicious internet attacks (including, most recently, bomb threats).
Why is a respected Cambridge professor unafraid to skirmish at the technological frontier? Because Beard is that rare breed of intellectual—at once steeped in tradition and culturally attuned. Nowhere is that on better display than in her new book, Confronting the Classics.
Confronting the Classics takes us on an exhilarating journey through the riches of classical heritage: from the Bronze-Age archaeological ruins of the palace of Knossos on Crete to Hadrian’s ostentatious “villa” at Tivoli; from the tomb where Alexander the Great is buried, to the hidden worlds of Roman ex-slaves, and ordinary women, the so-called underclasses so woefully ignored by the “Great White Men” who defined classical history in our past.
Well known to audiences for her TV programs, lectures, blogs and essays for The New York Review of Books, Beard’s first popular book successfully proves the classics are neither gloomy nor distant. She brings back to life some of the greatest writers of antiquity—including Sappho, Virgil, Thucydides, Cicero and Tacitus.
Mary Beard is a professor of classics at Cambridge University and the best-selling author of The Fires of Vesuvius. A popular blogger and television personality, Beard gave the Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, and Consultant Editor in Classics and Ancient History for The Times Literary Supplement. She lives in England.
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