Rome Is Love Spelled Backward (Roma Amor): Enjoying Art and Architecture in the Eternal City
by Judith Testa

EEmperor Hadrian is credited for pairing the patron goddess, Roma, with the long-worshiped love deity, Venus, thus creating the palindrome Romamor, which gives this unusual and worthy guidebook its name. In five chronologically arranged sections (Ancient Rome, Early Christian and Medieval Rome, Late Medieval and Renaissance Rome, Baroque Rome and Modern Rome), Northern Illinois University art history professor Testa covers the city's art and architecture with insight, sensitivity and scholarly perspective rarely found in travel manuals. Many chapters are devoted to a single monument: S. Maria Sopra Minerva, the Trevi Fountain, Castel Sant'Angelo, the Colosseum. Others are on larger themes, such as the building programs of Sixtus V or those of Mussolini. Everything is presented in welcome detail with background information for fuller understanding of the sites that surround a visitor to the Eternal City. Anyone interested in the classic arts will learn something from Testa's text, whether it's the reason the Pantheon was built, the source of the Christian and Jewish catacombs, or the roles that Caravaggio and Bernini played in creating a baroque Rome. With 50 photos, narrative text and no information on shops, restaurants, or hotels, it's a guidebook for sophisticated travelers who already know where to stay, but want more than a sentence on what they're seeing.

 


Centurion: A Novel of Ancient Rome
by Peter W. Mitsopoulos

Set in A.D. 9 and based on an actual event in Roman history, this is the story of Glaxus Valtinius, a Senior Centurion who must confront betrayal and incompetence during his last duty station before he can return to Rome and pursue his destiny with the woman he loves. Powerful, emotional, and vivid in its presentation of turn-of-the-millennium life, Centurion is an unforgettable and highly recommended historical novel.

 

 

 

 


Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
by Ross King

Almost 500 years after Michelangelo Buonarroti frescoed the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the site still attracts throngs of visitors and is considered one of the artistic masterpieces of the world. Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling unveils the story behind the art's making, a story rife with all the drama of a modern-day soap opera.

The temperament of the day was dictated by the politics of the papal court, a corrupt and powerful office steeped in controversy; Pope Julius II even had a nickname, "Il Papa Terrible," to prove it. Along with his violent outbursts and warmongering, Pope Julius II took upon himself to restore the Sistine Chapel and pretty much intimidated Michelangelo into painting the ceiling even though the artist considered himself primarily a sculptor and was particularly unfamiliar with the temperamental art of fresco. Along with technical difficulties, personality conflicts, and money troubles, Michelangelo was plagued by health problems and competition in the form of the dashing and talented young painter Raphael.

Author Ross King offers an in-depth analysis of the complex historical background that led to the magnificence that is the Sistine Chapel ceiling along with detailed discussion of some of the ceiling's panels. King provides fabulous tidbits of information and weaves together a fascinating historical tale.

 


Emperor: The Gates of Rome
by Conn Iggulden

From Library Journal: English writer Iggulden's first novel is the story of two young boys-Gaius and Marcus, raised as brothers though one is illegitimate-as they grow to adulthood in Rome two millennia ago. At that time, the republic was beginning to fall apart, a collapse that would result in the civil wars that brought the emperors to power. It was a time of turmoil, chaos, revolutions, casual violence, and savage brutality, and Iggulden's descriptions of the culture and environment are vivid. Although covering a period unknown to most lay readers, Emperor is a surprisingly fast and often exciting read.

 

 

 


Memoirs of Hadrian
by Marguerite Yourcenar

In 1981, Marguerite Yourcenar became the first woman to be elected to the prestigious French Academy, a measure of the extraordinary place she holds in the history of French letters. This historical novel, unique in its approach to a figure from Roman history, creates a vivid and historically accurate portrait of the 2nd-century Roman Empire under Hadrian's rule. The work is a fictional first-person narrative in the form of Hadrian's letters--mostly to his nephew Marcus Aurelius--written shortly before his death. Contemplative and analytical recollections of his accomplishments, his hopes for Rome, and his personal relationships, the letters reveal Hadrian to be a highly intelligent, often wise man, conscious of the great power he wields.