• A History of Ancient Rome
  • By: Mary Beard
  • Narrated by: Phyllida Nash
  • Length: 18 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 10-19-15
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 (25 ratings)

Regular price: $15.98

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Publisher's Summary

Ancient Rome matters. Its history of empire, conquest, cruelty and excess is something against which we still judge ourselves. Its myths and stories - from Romulus and Remus to the rape of Lucretia - still strike a chord with us. And its debates about citizenship, security and the rights of the individual still influence our own debates on civil liberty today.
SPQR is a new look at Roman history from one of the world's foremost classicists. It explores not only how Rome grew from an insignificant village in central Italy to a power that controlled territory from Spain to Syria but also how the Romans thought about themselves and their achievements and why they are still important to us.
Covering 1,000 years of history and casting fresh light on the basics of Roman culture, from slavery to running water, as well as exploring democracy, migration, religious controversy, social mobility and exploitation in the larger context of the empire, this is a definitive history of ancient Rome.
SPQR is the Romans' own abbreviation for their state: Senatus Populusque Romanus, 'the Senate and People of Rome'.
©2015 Mary Beard (P)2015 Audible, Ltd
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Critic Reviews

"She's pulled off that rare trick of becoming a don with a high media profile who hasn't sold out, who is absolutely respected by the academy for her scholarship...what she says is always powerful and interesting." ( The Guardian)
"An irrepressible enthusiast with a refreshing disregard for convention." ( Financial Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By William Blignaut on 07-16-17

An exceptional book

This is without a doubt one of the most provocative books written in recent years on the subject of Rome. Mary Beard handles the subject with precision and systematically explores themes which seldom get covered in the normal course of writing. This is an exceptional book.

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3 out of 5 stars
By Robyn on 01-09-16

In depth look at all things (ancient) Roman

My 3-star rating is a compromise between my objective and subjective opinions of this book. Objectively it is a stunner – such a wide-ranging meticulously researched and engagingly written history of 1000 years of Rome and its empire and people can only be described as a masterpiece which warrants a wholehearted 5-star rating. Mary Beard presents the fruits of her rigorous scholarship in an almost conversational manner making it accessible to anyone from novices to those who are already familiar with Rome and its history. So far, so good. But subjectively, even though I knew I was listening to a book which ticked all the boxes, I did not actually enjoy it. Despite the wealth and variety of material, mostly I found it flat. I found the narration flat too, but don’t know whether it was the narrator or the material. It felt like reading a history book in preparation for an exam or assignment, a duty rather than a pleasure. So, five stars for content and one star for grabbing my attention – that makes an overall rating of three stars.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Mr. D on 12-01-15

Interesting and erudite

What made the experience of listening to SPQR the most enjoyable?

Mary Beard is one of our leading Classical scholars and yet this is a very entertaining and readable (or listenable) book. Rather than being a flighty survey of the period, Beard provides an accessible, clear and interesting broad account of Rome without watering it down.

What was one of the most memorable moments of SPQR?

Beard's use of recent scholarship within a solid survey of the period.

Have you listened to any of Phyllida Nash’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Pompeii by Mary Beard. Another fine performance.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Probably not - you would want to dip into this and reflect before moving onto the next chapter in order not to be overwhelmed by the depth of the text.

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19 of 20 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Mary on 11-09-15


Where does SPQR rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Very very highly. Mary Beard has provided me with a much needed overview of Roman history. It's a cleverly crafted book, moving steadily forward through the historical dimension but pausing from time to time to explore the big themes in depth or to meet the big characters. And it's not just the big names it introduces us to; some of the most moving episodes concern ordinary people whose lives we can only glimpse through the archaeology, perhaps an inscription on a gravestone.The author always tells us what evidence lies behind the historical consensus, sometimes questioning it and sometimes admitting to lack of conviction. It was often funny and irreverant and never dull or self important.

What other book might you compare SPQR to, and why?

Other good histories such as Robert Goodwin's Spain.

What does Phyllida Nash bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

A model narrator. She animates Mary Beard's prose (which hardly needs animating) and, importantly, stays in the background.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Very satisfying.

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25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By ELIZABETH on 12-02-16


Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. To get a perspective on Ancient Rome

If you’ve listened to books by Mary Beard before, how does this one compare?

Not listened to before.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

None in particular

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?


Any additional comments?

A well-written and comprehensively researched tome. Trouble is, I'm not sure one person can do anything but give a very personal account, partly because it is such a vast topic and partly because of the enormous gaps in knowledge. I salute Ms Nash who tries her best to keep things moving and interesting, but she must have baulked at the number of times she had to say "it's impossible to know" or some variant of the phrase. Beard admits that little is known of the common people and slaves - so why does she spend so much time in speculating on their lives? It may be fun for her but not necessarily for us.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By lone on 01-25-17

SPQR 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Awesome author, narrator and book. LOVED it. Learned lots of new things about Rome, written with wit and irresistible sense of humour 🤗

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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