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Series: Meet the Romans

 

Meet the Romans: All Roads Lead to Rome

   2012    History
Professor Mary Beard looks beyond the stories of emperors, armies, guts and gore to meet the everyday people at the heart of Ancient Rome's vast empire. In this programme, Mary asks not what the Romans did for us, but what the empire did for Rome. She rides the Via Appia, climbs up to the top seats of the Colosseum, takes a boat to Rome's port Ostia and takes us into the bowels of Monte Testaccio. She also meets some extraordinary Romans: Eurysaces, an eccentric baker, who made a fortune out of the grain trade and built his tomb in the shape of a giant bread oven; Baricha, Zabda and Achiba, three prisoners of war who became Roman citizens; and Pupius Amicus, the purple dye seller making imperial dye from shellfish imported from Tunisia. This is Rome from the bottom up.

Streetlife

   2012    History
In this programme, Mary descends into the city streets to discover the dirt, crime, sex and slum conditions in the world's first high-rise city. This Rome is not the marble Rome we know, but a vast, messy metropolis with little urban planning, where most Romans lived in high-rise apartment blocks with little space, light, or even sanitation. Forced outdoors into the city streets, she reveals where they went to hang out, get drunk, have sex and get clean. She looks at the Forum as a place of gamblers, dentists and thieves, and she explores the lustiness of Roman bar life and jokes. Finally, exploring law and order from the bottom up, Mary examines how this city really worked. She meets Ancarenus Nothus, an apartment dweller who lived in fear of the rent collector; Notorious Primus, who wrote about his three great pleasures in life - baths, wine and sex; and Unlucky Doris, a seven-year-old girl killed in one of Rome's many fires.

Behind Closed Doors

   2012    History
In this final episode, Mary Beard delves even deeper into ordinary Roman life by going behind the closed doors of their homes. She meets an extraordinary cast of characters - drunken housewives, teenage brides, bullied children and runaway slaves - and paints a more dynamic, lusty picture of Roman family life. Mary uncovers their preserved beds, furniture and cradles, tries on Roman wedding rings and meets some eccentric wives like Glyconis, praised by her husband for liking a drink or two, and Allia Potestas, who lived in a Roman menage a trois. Mary explores Roman parenting, childbirth and children, including Sulpicius Maximus, an 11-year-old schoolboy who was worked to death by his pushy parents, and Geminia Mater, a 5-year-old tomboy. Finally, Mary paints a more nuanced picture of Roman slavery and asks why if it was such a brutal institution did many Romans choose to be buried with their servants - living cheek by jowl in death, as in life
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