Reading the Romans
Mary Beard, Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge
If you want to find some really vivid stories about ordinary ancient Romans – not just about the toffs, the generals, and the emperors – some of the very best places to look are their tombstones. These give some amazing insights into the lives of real Romans – not those right at the very bottom of the social heap (people down there couldn’t afford a memorial) but those not all that far from the bottom.
OK, the epitaphs are written in Latin – but it’s often very easy Latin. And even if you don’t know a single word of the language, you can get quite a lot out of them with only a very little help.
In the BBC Two series Meet the Romans, we have looked at some really memorable – and quirky – epitaphs. I’m particularly keen on one…
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