Beneath starched Shakespearean togas and the pungent fug of gladiator sweat there are real Romans waiting to be discovered. To know what it was to be Roman you need to gather the scattered clues until they form a living, breathing human, witness to the highs and horrors of Europe’s greatest empire.
Mary Beard, Britain’s best-selling historian of the ancient world, rebuilds the lives of six citizens of the Roman Empire, from a slave to an emperor. Her investigations reveal the stressful reality of Roman childhood, the rights of women and rules of migration, but it’s the thoughts and feelings of individual Romans she’s really interested in.
In the second episode we meet a woman caught up in a brutal civil war. Turia’s story starts with the murder of her parents. She tracks down their killers and fights off scavenging relatives desperate for a piece of her inheritance. Before she has a moment to settle her new husband is forced on the run, fleeing the murderous junta that’s taken over the empire after the murder of Julius Caesar. She’s badly beaten by the leadership's thugs as she pleads her husband’s case, but will her sacrifices ensure his safety?
Producer: Alasdair Cross
Expert Contributors: Greg Woolf, UCLA; Matthew Nicholls, Oxford University; Helen King, Open University
Cast: Voice of Laudatio Turiae read by Don Gilet
Special thanks to the National Museum of Rome, Baths of Diocletian