Roman People

Roman People

by Olivia Coolidge, Lino Lipinski (Illustrator)
Publisher: Hillside Education
Hardcover, 243 pages
Current Retail Price: $16.95
Not in stock

Who were the Roman people? There was the freedman whose immense wealth could not bring him his greatest desire; the swaggering sportsman who staked his all on a race; the slave whose spirit after death sought the loved one denied him in life; the young soldier holding the bridge for the Legion; the aristocrat hopelessly trying to uphold the moral values of Rome in a changed world; the wise ruler of a golden age; an early explorer, shopkeepers, traders. They were like us, people of all sorts in a melting pot of nations that extended over the whole of southern Europe, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and North Africa.

In her superb Introduction to Roman People Mrs. Coolidge tells us: "They had things in common, however. They were prosperous, so much so that they rather tended to think that present riches were the only thing to aim for, more especially as they were not perfectly sure what happened hereafter. Most people's ambition was to get rich enough to show off what they had to other folk. Another thing about Romans is that they all owned slaves. This made for a streak of cruelty and selfishness in the nicest characters. It also encouraged the slaves themselves to be unscrupulous. It is of course easy to condemn the Romans for faults which we should have too, if brought up in this fashion."

To many of us, the only impression of the Roman people has come from the study of Caesar and Cicero. But it was not until after the civil wars that the Roman people really came into their own under the golden rule of Augustus, Caesar's adopted son. Thus Mrs. Coolidge turns to the first century A.D. to give us a picture of various Roman types. So compelling and vivid is this collection of extraordinary stories that you are there in the amphitheater witnessing revolting gladiatorial spectacles, you share with the poverty-stricken poet the tense moments before a murder in the baths, you cringe before the hatchet-faced gangsters managing the charioteers, you stream out of the city with the Roman populace to pay honor to its dead on the Feast of Roses, and you realize that the time was ripe for Jesus Christ, born into the Roman world of Augustus.

Roman People sets the scene meaningfully and invaluably for all students of Latin and Roman history. Never has Mrs. Coolidge been on more familiar ground as she is in this area that she has made a specialty of over the years. Roman People is a noteworthy companion to her Egyptian Adventures, and a distinguished addition to her Greek Myths, Legends of the North, The Trojan War, and Cromwell's Head. 

—from the dust jacket

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