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Other titles in the Culture Trails series:
The Appian Way: Ghost Road, Queen of Roads (Culture Trails)by Robert A Kaster
Synopses & Reviews
The Roman poet Statius called the via Appia “the Queen of Roads,” and for nearly a thousand years that description held true, as countless travelers trod its path from the center of Rome to the heel of Italy. Today, the road is all but gone, destroyed by time, neglect, and the incursions of modernity; to travel the Appian Way today is to be a seeker, and to walk in the footsteps of ghosts.
Our guide to those ghosts—and the layers of history they represent—is Robert A. Kaster. In The Appian Way, he brings a lifetime of studying Roman literature and history to his adventures along the ancient highway. A footsore Roman soldier pushing the imperial power south; craftsmen and farmers bringing their goods to the towns that lined the road; pious pilgrims headed to Jerusalem, using stage-by-stage directions we can still follow—all come to life once more as Kaster walks (and drives—and suffers car trouble) on whats left of the Appian Way. Other voices help him tell the story: Cicero, Goethe, Hawthorne, Dickens, James, and even Monty Python offer commentary, insight, and curmudgeonly grumbles, their voices blending like the ages of the road to create a telescopic, perhaps kaleidoscopic, view of present and past.
To stand on the remnants of the Via Appia today is to stand in the pathway of history. With The Appian Way, Kaster invites us to close our eyes and walk with him back in time, to the campaigns of Garibaldi, the revolt of Spartacus, and the glory days of Imperial Rome. No traveler will want to miss this fascinating journey.
Named after Appius Claudius Caecus, a Roman censor who built the first section in 312 BCE in order to move troops to the south during the Samnite Wars, the road served both Romes military and its provincial citizenry, providing a way for them to travel to and from the capital for business, politics, and religious pilgrimages. For centuries carts and wagons laden with produce and rare merchandise rumbled along the Via Appia. Tiny towns sprang up alongside, as did inns, spas, markets, and lavish monuments. Even today, as one travels the road, one encounters the magnificent ruins of tombs, memorials, villas, and temples erected by Romes elite.
About the Author
Robert A. Kaster, professor of classics and Kennedy Foundation Professor of Latin at Princeton University, has taught and written mainly in the areas of Roman rhetoric, the history of education, and Roman ethics. His books include Guardians of
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Queen of Roads: Rome and the Appian Way
Chapter 2. Ghost Road: Italy and the Appian Way
Epilogue: Mullet in Tusculum
Advice for the Traveler
What Our Readers Are Saying
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