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An interview with Mary Beard

March 2022, no. 440

An interview with Mary Beard

March 2022, no. 440

Mary Beard is one of the world’s leading classicists and cultural commentators. She is professor of classics at the University of Cambridge. Her most recent book is Twelve Caesars (2021).


If you could go anywhere tomorrow, where would it be, and why?

That has a very particular resonance as we approach what we all hope might be the beginning of the end of Covid. I can’t wait to get back to Rome. I’m currently writing a very different book on Roman emperors from Twelve Caesars, looking back to the ancient world itself and trying to think harder about what life was really like for them: what they did all day, etc. So, I really want to get to Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli again soon.

What’s your idea of hell?

A walking holiday! 

What do you consider the most specious virtue?

It has to be ‘sincerity’. It’s not that I want to advocate ‘insincerity’ as such, but I dislike the way we let bad arguments off the hook on the grounds that that they are sincerely held!

What’s your favourite film?

Usually it’s the last one I enjoyed. But if I was choosing one for my ‘desert island’, and allowing myself a bit of sentimentality, I think I would go for Casablanca.

And your favourite book?

That really is impossible!

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