BLOODY  FUNNY  HISTORY 

BLOODY FUNNY
BUY BOOK
READ REVIEWS
ADMIRE COVER

 

CONTENTS          
0 Home
1 Introduction
2 Sex Please
3 Rome Antics
4 Rome Spell Neat
5 Kin King Klan King
6 Romana Be Public
7 Patrician Attrition
8 Appalling Gaul
9 Roaming Italy
10 Satiric Pyrrhic
11 Rome In Poem
12 Gods Be Lazy
13 Conclusion

 


PRAISE FOR THE BLOODY FUNNY HISTORY OF ROME


"Witty and irreverent, but well-informed. I can well imagine its taking on a cult status with educated readers (especially with university students) fond of a good joke."
W. Jeffrey Tatum
Olivia Nelson Dorman Professor of Classics
The Florida State University
Tallahassee, Florida USA

"Readers can expect much that is clever in combination with the odd gross moment. You'll quite literally find sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll within these pages, but students of Roman history will recognize the depth of Clark's knowledge."
Tom Stevenson
Professor of Classics and Ancient History
University of Queensland, Australia

"A heady mix of schoolboy history and Pythonesque humor. Seemingly, Clark is able to present every amusing anecdote from the entire Loeb Classical Library."
James Grout
Classicist, University of California
Author of Encyclopaedia Romana

"Clark has a knack for bringing the obscure, bizarre, and deliciously titillating corners of Rome into full light. Bloody Funny? Bloody brilliant, I say!"
Jeffery B. Knapp
Associate Professor of Humanities and Latin
Tallahassee Community College, Florida, USA
"Wonderful! In all seriousness, it's really one of the best books I've read on Roman history. In between laughing your silly head off, you learn too. And I wish I was an Etruscan!"
Karen Schrom
Classicist
Ancient Worlds Net

"Worth it for the Pope's Secret Collection alone! Rome's empire collapsed - as I did laughing! The pics are awesome!"
Jo Flavius
Archaeologist
Harvard University

BOOK REVIEWS OF THE BLOODY FUNNY HISTORY OF ROME

 

Then, behold, something new! Brett A. Clark’s The Bloody Funny History of Rome: Part One-The Roman Republic emerges from the antipodes like a starburst at dawn. There are such a quantity and variety of laudable aspects to this volume that...Read More...

Certainly, it is a heady mix of schoolboy history and Pythonesque humor. And yet, the garland holds together. Seemingly, Clark is able to present every amusing anecdote from the entire Loeb Classical Library and still arrange the material so that it progresses...Read More...

The Bloody Funny History of Rome is variously bloody, funny, and bloody funny. There's more than a touch of Monty Python about the style of humor, so readers can expect much that is clever in combination with the odd gross moment. It certainly helps...Read More...

In the spirit of the Cartoon History of the Universe, Brett Clark's The Bloody Funny History of Rome offers a witty and irreverent, but well-informed, account of early Roman history. Whereas the...Read More...




Nihil sub sole novum. “There’s nothing new under the sun,” at least according to The Preacher of Ecclesiastes. For the ancient historian, the subsequent verses ring resonant with pathos and angst:

“Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new?’ It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.”

The graybeards of the academy tend to focus upon the second half, and wring their hands over the ignorance of younger generations. To the young upstarts, however, the first half embodies their lament. When it comes to hoary disciplines like Ancient History, what more can be said? Hasn’t it all been said a thousand times? 

The answer is, well, yes and no. It is quite true that very little primary source material has emerged in the last fifty years or so. Compounded with this is the fact that very little has changed in the disciplines interaction with the general educated populace. The study of classics no longer occupies the center of the curriculum, and most readers still glean their knowledge of the ancient world from the Edith Hamiltons and Michael Grants of the world. This is not by necessity a dire state of affairs. It is, however, a rather bland state of affairs. 

Then, behold, something new! Brett A. Clark’s The Bloody Funny History of Rome: Part One-The Roman Republic emerges from the antipodes like a starburst at dawn. There are such a quantity and variety of laudable aspects to this volume that The Preacher would be aghast. Most obviously, Mr. Clark’s book is flat-out funny! We find saucy and informative limericks like the one concerning the outlawing of debt-slavery (p. 107):

Papirius told Publilius
don’t be so supercilious
it’s illegal to nexi
but kiss me sexy-
and I’ll pay punctilious

We find puns and clever word play in practically every paragraph. Even better than his limericks are Clark’s illustrations, which at once demonstrate a mature and distinctive style, and simultaneously sparkle with the same sly wit as the prose and poetry. 

But pictures and naughty poems are only the frosting on this rich cake. They may serve as Clark’s carnival barker to call in the marks, but what keeps them in the tent is a simply outstanding command of source material, a sophisticated and deep understanding of Roman social and political history, and the skilled hands of a master story-weaver. Brett Clark does not simply hit the standard historical high notes with which any amateur historian would have some familiarity. Mr. Clark has a knack for bringing the obscure, bizarre, and deliciously titillating corners of Rome into full light, such as works of Gnaeus Naevius like the Triphallus, the Figulus, and Tarentilla, “who could chat up two blokes at once, while playing footsy with a third.” (p. 158) 

In short, Brett A. Clark offers something that many academics dream of in their most secretive hearts: an informative and interpretive history of the Roman Republic that is also a crowd-pleaser. This reviewer eagerly awaits more volumes in this series, and hopes that Mr. Clark will turn his attention both fore and aft, knock up the Greeks and chat up the Medieval peasantry.

Bloody Funny? Bloody brilliant, I say!

Jeffery B. Knapp
Associate Professor of Humanities and Latin
Tallahassee Community College



Justin, in his epitome of Pompeius Trogus, proclaims to have extracted only what “was most worthy of being known; and, rejecting such parts as were neither attractive for the pleasure of reading, nor necessary by way of example, have formed, as it were, a small collection of flowers, that those who are acquainted with the history of Greece might have something to refresh their memories, and those who art strangers to it something for their instruction” (Preface, 4). Clark, in his own florilegium, provides equal pleasure in his droll account of the early history of Rome. The bouquet is especially attractive, the flowers fragrant and arranged most artfully. 

In twenty chapters, the history of the Republic is traced from Aeneas to the Gracchi, framed by introductory and concluding chapters on the Etruscans and the symposium, both of which are taken from the Deipnosophists of Athenaeus. It is an appropriate choice for a completely unique history, one filled with charming drawings by the author, outrageous puns and word play (“The slain in Spain fall mainly on the plain”), and witty often bawdy limericks, as when Clark comments on the peplos (short tunic) of Spartan women, “The Spartan’s dress a tatter/has Greek poets all a chatter/she laughs at them/‘You little men,/I thought thighs didn’t matter.”

“Modern Roman histories achieve their serious tone by omitting any amusing bits from the classical sources, but here it’s reversed.” So Clark introduces The Bloody Funny History of Rome. Because he is willing to accept these accounts at face value (“I can't swear that everything recounted here is true, but they say it is”), he is able to present them in a way that often is more entertaining to the modern reader than it must have been to the ancient listener.

Certainly, it is a heady mix of schoolboy history and Pythonesque humor. And yet, the garland holds together. Seemingly, Clark is able to present every amusing anecdote from the entire Loeb Classical Library and still arrange the material so that it progresses from the early kings, the Samnite wars; Pyrrhus and Hannibal; to the Punic, Macedonian, Celtiberian, and Servile wars. There also are asides on Roman culture, including how to wear the toga, and synopses of Virgil, Silius, Plautus, and Terence. With so much at hand, one almost wishes for an index, but that would lessen the chance of self-discovery. 

This is the first part of a projected two-volume history, and one can only imagine what Clark will do with the foibles, peccadilloes, and sheer bloody-mindedness of the Roman emperors.

James Grout
Classicist
University of California
Author of Encyclopaedia Romana


The Bloody Funny History of Rome is variously bloody, funny, and bloody funny. There's more than a touch of Monty Python about the style of humor, so readers can expect much that is clever in combination with the odd gross moment. It certainly helps if you have a background in Roman history already but the jokes should appeal to a broad group. It would take an especially hardhearted reader not to crack a smile or shake the head (or hum along) before too long.

In this first volume of a projected series, Clark conducts a tour of Roman history from the Etruscans to the Gracchi in whirlwind fashion. The 21 chapters are liberally sprinkled with perspicacious puns, lewd limericks, jolly jokes, silly songs, and diabolical drawings supplied by the artful author himself. History was never like this at school. The end product is not for the unfit, the fainthearted or the prudish. Absolutely everything has a funny side, it seems, and you will quite literally find sex, drugs, and rock ‘n' roll within these pages. Etruscans copulate, virgins are deflowered, gay men make fools of themselves. Wine flows continuously. Hannibal's Drinking Song (to the tune of 76 Trombones) is a standout, and Beatles fans will enjoy humming the Shallow Quinquereme (to the tune of Yellow Submarine).

Puns appear in rapid-fire succession: Rome antics, Romana be public, Rome coming parade (on the triumph), Rout of Africa (on Regulus' invasion of Africa in 256 BC), and many more. The Gauls, we are told, laughed at death because they didn't get jokes! It's all meant in fun and there is a lot to be had if you're ready for it. You become conditioned to look forward to the parts that are berserk, absurd and quite out of control.

On the other hand, the learned nature of the work should not be overlooked. Clark has studied Roman history formally and has trawled through the ancient sources thoroughly. He knows where to look for all the juicy bits and manages to put his own spin on everything he lifts. The accuracy of what he presents is not the point, but again and again students of Roman history will recognize the depth of his knowledge. Even serious historians might at least partially accept his point that "The purpose of history is to give us a laugh (for if we really learnt anything from it we'd stop repeating our mistakes)!"

The book begins and ends with dinner-parties. This says something about the importance of the symposium in ancient life but it also suggests the kind of atmosphere in which such a version of Roman history would be of greatest interest. We write jokes down because we can't remember them, but they work best when they're shared. Clark gives us much to share here.

Tom Stevenson
Professor of Classics and Ancient History
University of Queensland, Australia.


In the spirit of the Cartoon History of the Universe, Brett Clark's The Bloody Funny History of Rome offers a witty and irreverent, but well-informed, account of early Roman history. Whereas the Cartoon History moves quickly through the past, the Bloody Funny History takes a leisurely look at various episodes and personalities from the founding of Rome to the beginning of the late republic (the Gracchi). The book's humor and high spirits -- it really is silly (in the best sense) -- are sustained throughout, especially its fondness for punning. The book should certainly appeal to classicists and historians, who tend to enjoy seeing their material lampooned, and I can well imagine its taking on a cult status with educated readers -- especially with university students -- fond of a good joke. 

W. Jeffrey Tatum
Olivia Nelson Dorman Professor of Classics
The Florida State University
Tallahassee, Florida USA

W. Jeffrey Tatum (Ph.D., Texas) is the Olivia Nelson Dorman Professor of Classics and is Chairman of the Department. He specializes in the literature and history of the late Roman republic. He has received two University Teaching Awards as well as the American Philological Association's Excellence in Teaching Award. He is the author of The Patrician Tribune: Publius Clodius Pulcher (Chapel Hill, 1999) and has published articles on Catullus, Cicero, Horace, Lucretius and Plutarch and on the political and institutional history of the late republic. He is currently writing a commentary on the Commentariolum Petitionis for Oxford University Press and a biography of Caesar for Blackwell Press. Recent graduate courses include: Politics in the Age of Caesar; The Roman Revolution; Reading Cicero's Speeches; Livy, Book Six; Lucan; Cicero's Correspondence; Historical Greek Inscriptions. Recent undergraduate courses include: Euripides' Medea; Women, Children and Slaves in Ancient Rome; The Peloponnesian War.

 

   


OR BUY AT...

OR BUY AT...

© Philologos Media 2010. The Bloody Funny History of Rome.
Contact web-magister:
overworked-slave@bloodyfunny.com