Dictionaries of classical mythology have long been the province of the Greek tradition—any mention of the Romans is often by contrast, painting a portrait of a people without gods, heroes, or a true mythology of their own. This two-hundred-year-old prejudice, born of the Romantic movement and nourished by the classical scholarship of the nineteenth century, portrayed the Romans as merely practical—a race of engineers, jurists, and empire-builders—in stark contrast to the authentically creative poets, dramatists, and philosophers of ancient Greece.
Widely reviewed and celebrated on its initial publication three years ago, Peter Wiseman’s The Myths of Rome dismantles those entrenched prejudices and ambitiously explores the neglected evidence for a uniquely Roman mythology. Inspiring writers, artists, and statesmen throughout the ages, the myths of Rome—iconographic and literary—have enjoyed a rich afterlife in Western culture, from the works of Botticelli and Shakespeare to the emblems of higher learning. This lavishly illustrated volume presents the Roman myths in all their glory, each presented in a format both accessible and appealing to the modern reader. Tracing the development of the world of Roman stories over time and imaginatively reconstructing our picture of early Roman civilization, this major reevaluation of Roman history and its influence on Western culture uses the mediums of myth and art to change our vision of the ancient republic.