BOOK REVIEW: The Crowd in Rome in the Late Republic
by Fergus Millar
This is a book destined for library shelf space in every academic institution for higher education. And unless you intend post-graduate level research, that's exactly where it should remain.
Millar took what I figured would be an exciting subject and pounded it into unconsciousness. "Dull" would be a gracious remark at a faculty soiree. That he knows his subject is not in question--he' an expert. That he can contort English into sentences is not in question--he's literate. That anyone will still be awake is not in question--The Crowd in Rome in the Late Republic is coma inducing.
Ponderous prose liberally interspersed with Latin terms ooze you onward. I ended up reading and re-reading sections to understand inferences, importance, and interpretations. It didn't help. I was no closer to understanding crowd reaction on page 57 as I was at the start...and I struggled to reach page 57...over multiple nights.
I even skipped ahead to the conclusion in the hope I could glimpse his arguments. It was all for nought. Perhaps Millar may be a brilliant lecturer--the book evolved from the Jerome lecture series--but if he muddies his speeches as much as his writing, no doubt a good many future scholars will be snoozing in their seats.
I've often found excellent books in the discount bin. They've opened up a wide range of topics to me. Alas, Crowd is not one of them. The only readable part is the blurb on the dust jacket.