Tuesday, March 18, 2014

James Romm

James Romm's latest book is Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero.

From his Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

Why did you choose to write about Rome when your background is in Greek history and Alexander the Great?

Mostly because the story of Seneca and Nero was the darkest, most compelling story I knew from all my research on the ancient world, bar none. I have felt for many years that I wanted to tell it, even though it took me outside of my comfort zone. I really felt that I understood Seneca in a way that few today do -- that I knew all his literary tricks and gambits, in part because I've used similar ones myself.

What makes this so unsettling and dark a book?

It's claustrophobic -- almost all the action takes place indoors, in closed rooms of Nero's palace, with just a few people present -- and extremely grim, in that explores Seneca's obsessions with death, suicide, and apocalypse. The title "Dying Every Day" was chosen for its double meaning: It defines how Seneca conceived of human life, as a journey toward death, but also describes his own condition, trapped at the court of a dangerous, deluded despot. He had to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue