Companion to the BBC series CIVILISATIONS.
Focusing on the arrival of the human figure as a subject of art, Mary Beard examines the history of beauty in civilisation.
Beginning with the Jericho painted skulls from 10,000 years ago, and the extraordinary figures of Ain Ghazal. It examines in depth the creativity that gave identity to ancient Egypt, where colossi of powerful rulers were also matched by the depictions of citizens and the wider population. From there, we explore the unprecedented art of the Greek revolution, where beauty and the perfection of the human figure set a benchmark for all Western art to come, and profoundly influenced the flowering of human sculpture in Rome.
Finally, it moves to China to examine the vast army of Terracotta Warriors commissioned by the first emperor, and ends with the unexpected figure of Monk Wuxia, a mummified Buddhist monk created from the body of the monk himself.
About the Author
Mary Beard is a professor of classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, and the classics editor of the TLS. She has world-wide academic acclaim. Her previous books include the bestselling, Wolfson Prize-winning Pompeii, The Parthenon, Confronting the Classics and SPQR and Women and Power. Her blog has been collected in the books It's a Don's Life and All in a Don's Day. She is in the 2014 top 10 Prospect list of the most influential thinkers in the world.
Excellent ... an invigorating guide -- Kathryn Hughes * Guardian *
Beautifully produced and elegantly written ... utterly compelling -- Linda Hogan * Irish Times *
Enthralling * Sunday Times *
Slim yet insightful. . . . Beard expands her view beyond western Europe to offer an admirable survey of cultures from Egypt to China, Judaism to Christianity, centuries past to the modern era, all while emphasizing the significance of the viewer over the artist. . . . As Beard emphasizes the power of the context in which we look at and interpret art, she ultimately suggests that civilization itself is a leap of faith. Beard is having fun in this joyfully accessible primer, backed with a robust appendix, for all interested in a new perspective on religion, art, and history. * Booklist *
Praise for Mary Beard: What she says is always powerful and interesting * Guardian *
An irrepressible enthusiast with a refreshing disregard for convention * Financial Times *
If they'd had Mary Beard on their side back then, the Romans would still have their empire * Daily Mail *
[She] implicitly invites us to think about our own world, and about our answers to the question of what makes us human * Sydney Morning Herald *
With such a champion as Beard to debunk and popularise, the future of the study of classics is assured * Daily Telegraph *
Praise for SPQR: Fast-moving, exciting, psychologically acute, warmly sceptical -- Bryan Appleyard * Sunday Times *
Vastly engaging ... a tremendously enjoyable and scholarly read -- Natalie Haynes * Observer *
Sustaining the energy that such a topic demands for more than 600 pages, while providing a coherent answer to the question of why Rome expanded so spectacularly, is hugely ambitious. Beard succeeds triumphantly ... full of insights and delights ... SPQR is consistently enlivened by Beard's eye for detail and her excellent sense of humour * Sunday Times *
Masterful ... This is exemplary popular history, engaging but never dumbed down, providing both the grand sweep and the intimate details that bring the distant past vividly to life * Economist *
Ground-breaking ... invigorating ... revolutionary ... a whole new approach to ancient history -- Thomas Hodgkinson * Spectator *
Number Of Pages: 240
Published: 24th April 2018
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 15.7 x 22.9 x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.67