Invisible Romans: Prostitutes, Outlaws, Slaves, Gladiators and Others by Robert C Knapp - review by Christopher Hart

Christopher Hart

Plebs on Parade

Invisible Romans: Prostitutes, Outlaws, Slaves, Gladiators and Others

By

Profile Books 312pp £25 order from our bookshop
 

A Roman in Africa once made a curse, calling on the daemon to ‘torture and kill the horses of the Green and the White teams, kill and smash the charioteers Clarus, Felix, Primulus, Romanus’, and ‘not leave a breath in them’. Fragments of these curse tablets have been found all over the Roman world, and they can tell us a great deal about who could write, how people felt about sport, and how they saw the world.

They are just one of the unusual sources that Robert Knapp uses to such good effect in this intriguing history of ‘invisible Romans’: those who rarely appear, let alone speak, in the loftier reaches of literature, yet who made up by far the largest part of Rome’s empire.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter