Book Review – Invisible Romans

Invisible Romans: Prostitutes, outlaws, slaves, gladiators, ordinary men and women … the Romans that history forgot – Review.

An interesting book dealing with the little known aspects of Roman society as most sources deal with the elite – largely because the elite and those who write for and about them left far more sources from which to work. Most of the sources used here are from funerary or fiction accounts, such as Golden Ass or the graves of slaves and other poor workers. The Elite had the means to leave us better records, the poor folk did not.

It was nice to see someone speaking up for the ‘Invisibles’ in this society – such as slaves/freedmen, women, the poor and the more common soldier or gladiators and mostly the topics were dealt with in some detail, sources were referenced and the authors arguments were coherent.

However, the chapter on outlaws and pirates was a bit vague and I am not sure was needed, although the authors comments about ‘otherlaw’ vs ‘outlaw’ and the bandits not wanting to actually change the ruling elite just simply not be subject to its laws were interesting. There were also quite a few generalisations and the bible was quoted and used as source material, which I am not sure really worked for me. Although some of it may be reasonably contemporary I felt it was used too much as a valid source.

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