I have always been .. shall we say obsessed or enamoured with Roman and Greek history.
I admired Alexander the Great of Macedonia, I eagerly followed Caesar’s exploits and his eventual downfall, and who could not love the practical Emperor Hadrian even though he was a bit of a stick in the mud?
Their society is fascinating and full of so many interesting customs and rituals, that I am sure if any one of them were resurrected to try and live in our society, they’d have a hell of a time adapting.
As a result, I have taken lots of Roman and Greek history courses, read a lot of books, source books and was crazed with finding out MORE!!
Out of all of that, what I consider to be one of the best source books on Roman life is the following book:
The book is filled with quotes, interesting conversations and tidbits that give you such an insight into Roman life and how they thought as a culture.
Some of my favourite quotes were on beauty and health.
A Roman sartorialist of the time lamented about his girlfriend, asking her WHY she was so vain to try and dye her hair a bright red when it was a beautiful, natural blonde to begin with?
Now, the dye had burned off most of her hair (umm.. yea, it doesn’t sound safe), and she has to wear wigs made from captured blonde German prisoners to cover up her balding scalp.
And it rings true, even in today’s modern society.
I sometimes felt modern hair dye burning my scalp, and that was one of the reasons why I stopped dying my hair; I just kept thinking of this poor, vain, naturally gorgeous blonde Roman who burned off all her hair by trying to dye it red!
Anyway, out of all of the books I have ever read on Roman and Greek history (except for the legendary “The Rise & Fall of the Roman Empire” of course), this was the most interesting one, and the only one I’ve kept all of these years, and keep re-reading just for fun.
They also (as you know), were into patriarchy, where Roman women had no rights whatsoever and always had to be under the thumb of a man.
It’s why Roman women who broke the mold were so interesting (to me), and also called shrews by their culture, as it was unthinkable to have a husband who felt his wife was his equal.
Great stuff. Makes you think about your own life and how lucky you are to be a woman in today’s society.