Top 10 things that make you an Amateur Classicist

This is a Classic Ancient Rome Refocused Blog Post.

The Top 10 Things that make you an Amateur Classicist 

Editor’s Note*  These are my 10 things, what are yours?

1.  When the TV show HBO’s Rome comes on TV and  you lecture your family on the historical inaccuracies until they tell you to, “SHUT UP!”

2.  When you are sitting in the balcony overlooking the floor of Congress with some of your students and they ask, “why there is an image of an ax and rods are on the wall”, and you go into a lecture on what the fasces mean (symbolized a magistrate’s power and jurisdiction) and its purpose in ancient culture before you realize that they are not your students.

3.  When you visit the Library of Congress and the guide makes the mistake of saying, “One of the statues overlooking the main hall is Gibbon who wrote the “The Fall of the Roman Catholic Church.  He’s wrong! You know he is wrong! Then you announce to a crowd of strangers that the correct title is, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” The next day you send an email to the head librarian asking that they instruct their guides properly and demand that they send “What’s his name”  through remedial training.

4.  When you become excited on finding a book printed in the 1800’s on ancient Rome with illustrations that you have never seen before.  When you buy the book you wrap it in plastic wrap to keep it fresh, because one day the book will be either sitting on your really cool library shelf, or the  maps and illustrations will be preserved and framed in your future man cave.

5.  When your wife buys you a child’s Playmobil Roman Galley and  you are excited by it, and spend an afternoon building it and its now on display on your bookcase.

6.  When meeting a true classicist is equal to meeting a ‘rock star.’

7.  When you walk down into the ‘Roman Forum’ and you start to cry in public. ( I had dreamed about it all my life.  I was overcome…OK?  Give a guy a break.)

8.  When you regret not choosing the study of Ancient Rome as your career choice when in college.

9.   When you begin to recognize plots of ancient plays in modern TV shows and movies.

10.  When you start a podcast called Ancient Rome Refocused and spend your weekends putting together episodes that speak of your love for the subject, and get excited to meet other amateur classicists that take the time to write you and tell you about their love of history.

Editor’s Note * The following are three novelists that wrote me about this blog post. Enjoy.

Email 1

Steven Saylor is an American author of historical novels. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied history and classics. Saylor’s best-known work is his Roma Sub Rosa historical mystery series, set in ancient Rome.

“RE item #6, I feel very much the groupie when I attend Classical lectures and events on the UC Berkeley campus. OMG, there’s Robert Knapp, author of Invisible Romans…and over there is Leslie Kurke, who wrote the blindingly brilliant Aesopic Conversations…and sometimes I even chat with the great Erich Gruen. If J.K. Rowling were to stroll through the room, I wouldn’t even notice.”

Email 2

Ruth Downie, is a British author. She is best known for her mysteries featuring the “reluctant sleuth”, Gaius Petreius Ruso, that are set in the Roman world.

“Oh, yes! Especially no. 5, except mine was a cardboard Roman fort and I had to buy it ‘for the children’. What an excellent wife you must have!”

Email 3

Vicky Alvear Shecter, is the author of two nonfiction books about the ancient world: ALEXANDER THE GREAT ROCKS THE WORLD, a VOYA Honor Pick for Nonfiction, and CLEOPATRA RULES!. A docent in the Ancient History department of the Carlos Museum of Art, she lives in Avondale Estates, Georgia.

“This made me laugh, Rob. I could relate to every single one. I am going to Rome for the first time this fall and I am sure I will also make a fool of myself in public at many, many sites. And yes, I have the “rock star” response to classicists such as Mary Beard and Adrian Goldsworthy. And Barry Strauss…and…and…many more”


Mors est A.P. Style dux

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