Marguerite Johnson reviews 'How to Die: An Ancient guide to the end of life' by Seneca, edited and translated by James S. Romm

Marguerite Johnson reviews 'How to Die: An Ancient guide to the end of life' by Seneca, edited and translated by James S. Romm

How to Die: An Ancient guide to the end of life

by Seneca, edited and translated by James S. Romm

Princeton University Press (Footprint), $29.99 hb, 250 pp, 9780691175577

Studies of the ancient Mediterranean are increasingly popular. Once a privilege of the élite, whose schools prepared predominantly male students for tertiary study of Greek and Latin, Classics now has a much wider audience. This is partly the result of scholars such as Mary Beard (recently the recipient of a damehood) who have made inroads into popularising ancient Greece and Rome. While general interest is on the rise, study of the languages has stagnated in most Western countries, and translations have largely replaced reading works in the original language. This means that, more than ever, translators need to be attentive to the nuances of a Greek or Latin text, and to capture the essence and tone of the literature, while providing accuracy at the same time.

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Marguerite Johnson

Marguerite Johnson

Marguerite Johnson is Professor of Classics at The University of Newcastle. She is a writer and academic specialising in the widespread influences of the ancient Mediterranean on post-antiquity. Her focus is on the reception of Greek and Roman cultures in colonial Australia, including literature and art. She also researches gender and sexualities in antiquity through to modernity, with a particular interest in twentieth and twenty-first century Australia. Marguerite is the author of several scholarly books, numerous articles and chapters, and has also published a series of short stories (one of which was awarded a Scarlet Stiletto). She is a regular contributor to The Conversation and the ABC.

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