All roads lead to Rome. Sites and events throughout the ancient world provided Romans with a rich tapestry woven with stories of their past. The city itself was a melting pot of peoples from across the Mediterranean and beyond, each bringing their myths and legends of heroes and heroines, gods and goddesses. Rome's citizens wholeheartedly embraced these stories of kings consorting with river nymphs, a prophetic baby discovered in a field and the founding of Rome itself. Myths formed the backdrop to the rituals and customs of everyday life.
David Stuttard takes the reader on a tour of eighteen of the great sites of the ancient Roman world, following in the footsteps of Aeneas and his companions from Troy via Greece, North Africa and Sicily to Italy, and travelling with his descendants to Rome, while also enjoying an excursion into Tuscany and Latium to explore later legends. Each chapter begins with an evocative description of the site's location and landscape, followed by its assocaited myths and stories, as well as any rituals performed there in antiquity. Drawing on the great works of Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Plutarch, Ovid, Horace and Virgil, with specially commissioned illustrations and information about key events and remains that can still be seen today, this is a fresh look at a subject of eternal fascination.
Thames and Hudson
ISBN 978-0-500-25229-1 First published 2019
The subject of classical mythology is of enduring interest and there are many good introductions available, but most of these tend to place the emphasis on the Greek myths. By focussing on Roman (and wider Italian) mythology, this book is able to show the long history of Greek stories in Roman times, theior reinterpretation and sometimes appropriation for political ends. All this is done with a light touch and humour that belies the serious scholarship involved.
The unique approach of this excellent book is to take the format of a travel guide and thereby anchor the myths in the locations in which they took place or had ancient relevance.The Aeneid forms the backbone of this journey round the Mediterranean region from Troy to Rome by way of Delos, Sicily and Carthage, but the tour also takes in local sanctuaries and semi-mythical historical events as well as contemporary Roman festivals. The welcome inclusion of Etruscan towns gives a broader perspective to Rome’s mythical history.
Each chapter begins with a vignette from the point of view of a modern visitor before exploring the myths of the place and ends with a potted history from prehistory to modern times with key dates and a short description of the main sites that can be visitied today. It features charming illustrations by David Bezzina and is thoroughly recommended to the armchair tourist as well as the traveller.
The British Museum Magazine