Winner of American Philological Association: C.J. Goodwin Award of Merit 2005. Shortlisted for British Academy Book Prize 2005. Widely reviewed and celebrated in hardback on publication in 2004, "The Myths of Rome" is now available in a paperback edition.This major re-evaluation of Roman history and its afterlife in western culture through the mediums of myth and art is fast becoming the standard popular account of the Roman story-world. It triumphantly redresses the popular perception of classical myth as a predominantly Greek invention; and builds a cohesive narrative from the mass of mythical and historical tales that cluster around the nexus of Rome. It is set to become a sourcebook for students of Roman myth and history in this country and around the world at undergraduate and graduate level.
... This brilliant book will create a storm of argument, raising again the old question: what do we mean by myth?
Peter Jones, BBC History
The Myths of Rome is a richly produced work for the general reader, by a specialist in rarely visited corners of the theme; but its seductive illustrations, tables and chronologies should not disguise the book's passionate polemic, which places flagons of wine in the hands, and garlands of roses on the heads, of those beaky-nosed pieces of virtue who formed the Republic.
Marina Warner, TLS
... a splendidly civilized and civilizing work, ... He succeeds brilliantly, necessarily throwing light on shifts in modern perceptions of the Romans. As it uses painting, notably that of Tiepolo, to demonstrate earlier interest in Roman myth, the book is lavishly illustrated, the more so because unearthing the stories involves archaeological finds. [...] Piquant and illuminating observations from well outside Roman literature and Renaissance and Baroque painting, as well as friendly style, will retain the interest aroused in younger readers when they open the volume.
Greece and Rome
The scope of this book is enormous and the subject matter potentially daunting in its complexity; yet every effort has been made to make the material accessible and illuminating for the non-specialist and classical scholar alike. In addition to a useful time-chart and uncluttered maps, the text is entirely free of diversionary numbered notes; instead, a wealth of additional details and references to sources and modern discussions is provided at the end of the book.
The Classical Review
... it is a marvellous advertisement for what the best professional classicists can actually do these days, and for the pleasure and profit that Classics can accordingly offer its own students and those of the humanities in general. I recommend W's Myths of Rome with complete confidence to public libraries as well as to those of schools and universities that offer classical courses at any level.
The Journal of Classics Teaching, summer
... this eloquently written, artfully crafted, and highly original book... Everyone professionally engaged in the study of ancient Rome, or in myths of the ancient world, should read this book, even if, according to Wiseman, The Myths or Rome was written for a non-specialist audience.
The Myths of Rome is nothing less than a reconstruction of how the Romans envisaged, fabricated and communicated interdependent, multiform and inclusive stories of what it meant to be Roman…’‘…a provocative and stimulating conspectus of [Wiseman’s] abiding historical concerns to all students of myth. I recommend The Myths of Rome to students and teachers of Roman history, art and myth at undergraduate and graduate level, specialists in these fields, and anyone interested in a potent and provocative re-interpretation of the Roman historical tradition.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review
On prendra un réel plaisir à ouvrir ce livre, splendidement illustré.
Revue des Etudes Latines, No. 83
Wiseman’s latest labour is this lavishly illustrated book on the myths of Rome, which will undoubtedly constitute an essential tool for students of Roman mythology, a provocative and useful summary of the author’s views for scholars, and an entertaining and informative companion for the wider readership. One of the great strengths of this book is its unusual ability to present an extremely broad variety of issues in a unified and harmonious picture, proving at the same time a learned account of a lesser well known myth as well as a description of the deepest economic dynamics at work during Rome’s imperialistic expansion. This book, which also incorporates the topography of Rome as an integral part of its narrative (see, for example, the discussion of Alban Mount, 88) provides a very useful time-chart and valuable uncluttered maps which will be of great use for those unfamiliar with the subject. It is also punctuated by brief excurses (thirty-one in total) on at times random, but always entertaining, information which undoubtedly will satisfy the curiosity of some readers.
Valentina Arena, Phoenix, Vol. LXI, No. 3-4, pp.375-77
In The Myths of Rome Wiseman gives us his most comprehensive account to date of the development of Roman myth or, as he calls it, the Roman ‘story-world’. This brief selection hardly does justice to the elegance and breadth of this beautifully produced volume, which contains a further forty-one single and two-page divertimenti taking up themes in the main text, which is wonderfully illustrated. W.’s prose is engaging and committed. The fact that one looks for W.’s approach to be extended and refined, in spite of disagreement concerning the political interpretation of some of these stories, is an index of the importance of The Myths of Rome. Its readers will return to it repeatedly as both an inspiring and thought-provoking piece of innovative scholarship, and an engaging and vibrant piece of historical writing.
S. J. Northwood, Journal of Roman Studies, No. 98, pp183-4
Journal of Roman Studies, No. 98, pp183-4
The elegance and breadth of this beautifully produced volume, which contains a further forty-one single or two-page divertimenti taking up themes in the main text, which is wonderfully illustrated, and has only four misprints. Wiseman’s prose is engaging and committed, particularly his chapters on the crimes of the senatorial obliarchy in the first and second centuries B.C. He aims for a broad readership, which means he is not always as precise with regard to political context as scholarly readers might expect, but the endnotes display mastery of the full range of source material and provide an extremely useful scholarly resource. The fact that one looks for Wiseman’s approach to be extended and refined, in spite of disagreement concerning the political interpretation of some of these stories, is an index of the importance of The Myths of Rome. Its readers will return to it repeatedly as both an inspiring and thought-provoking piece of innovative scholarship, and an engaging and vibrant piece of historical writing.
S. J. Northwood, The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, 98, pp.183-280
The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, 98, pp.183-280