My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The purpose of history is to transcend the subjectivity of times in the discovery of the truth about human nature with multidisciplinary approaches that aid in our understanding of the continuity of mankind. In this sense, history is an artifact of a collective human enterprise of culture and society, which mirrors how we humans have been, what we have done, and who we really are from the times immemorial to this date. If this sounds too stuffy and boring with the gravitas of an academic subject filled with dates and names and events to remember for exams, then you will love Stupid Ancient History by Leonard Gregory because it will make you both learned and amused with a course of delightful Amuse- Bouches throughout a solipsistic feast of reading to your heart’s content.
Filled with many unknown tidbits of ancient Greek and Roman history, this book is a pleasure to your brain overtly fed by fake-news, ego-inflated memoirs of successful people, revisionist histories in favor of political ideology, and vehemently subjective narratives of self-proclaimed outsiders away from the realities of daily lives. It’s also refreshingly accessible to all, average and academic, which shows the humble and benign character of the author who, despite his wealth of knowledge on the subject, translates the words of an academic into those of a student seemingly with a general reader in mind. The book reveals it all; it ranges from Cleopatra VII Thea Philopather, (aka Mark Anthony’s Egyptian Lover, who wasn’t really Egyptian) to Pliny the Elder, who believed that pouring vinegar over ships gave them some slight protection against storms, to Emperor Nero, who didn’t play the violin during the Great Fire of Rome but paid out of his pocket for the provisions and housing for the homeless due to the fire, to the great ancient thinker Plato, the name meaning “wide, broad, broad-shouldered” betrayed his real name Aristocres, and to many others that will wow your brain conditioned to believe what they weren’t really.
It’s a really a Eureka experience that you will get from reading this delightful book, and you will feel effortlessly erudite in the knowledge of history and positively enriched with the knowledge of humankind that has not changed a bit according to the racy but playfully innocent scribbles found in the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii. What’s more, by adopting the in-vogue trend of using short episodic vignettes, the book doesn’t require your following the entire chapters to sequence the narrative and makes it a very pleasing and flexible read for the benefit of simple mental pleasure. So, if you want to be conversant with the history of ancient Greece and Rome without being overwhelmed by stuffy words and boring typography in one sitting, this book is the genie to your wish.