Pen & Sword Books

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Roman Legends Bought to Life

Roman Legends Bought to Life written by Robert Garland and published by

Pen & Sword Books - £20 - Hardback - Pages 232

The legends of early Rome are among the most memorable of any in the world. They are also

highly instructive. They taught generations of Romans about duty and obedience. Duty and

obedience might not seem to amount to much these days, but it was precisely these virtues

that made Rome great. The legends are not, however, merely self-congratulatory and they are

rarely simple exercises in nationalist propaganda. On the contrary, many reveal their ancestors’

dark side, which they expose unflinchingly.

As in the case of Greek mythology, there is no authorised version of any Roman legend. The legends survived because they reminded the Romans who they were, what modest beginnings they came from, how on many occasions their city nearly imploded, and what type of men and women shaped their story.

Defeat, loss, failure. That’s where this story – the story of the boldest, most enduring, and most successful political experiment in human history – begins. It’s the story of how a band of refugees escaped from the ruins of a burning city and came to establish themselves hundreds of miles to the west in the land of Hesperia, the Western Land, the land where the sun declines, aka Italia. It’s the story of a people who by intermingling, compromise and sheer doggedness came to dominate first their region, then the whole of peninsula Italy, and finally the entire Mediterranean and beyond.

This book explores the world of Roman Legends, all those great roman gods and leaders we all learn about at school or through life. You have all the great gods and stories from the Trojan Horse right through to the Ides of March and everything in between. What was really good about this book was the comprehensive number of stories, but also the way they were written, it seemed to me they were written in layman’s terms. This not only made them far easier to understand, but with the excellent writing, it was a breeze to read. The only negative I could come up with was that I was not so keen on the childlike drawings throughout the book, which I felt didn’t really add anything. But overall it was a really good read and one I certainly enjoyed and I really enjoyed the cover design and it stands out nicely on my bookcase.

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