Shadi Bartsch: Death and the Ancients, 15 November 2007
Show More Death in Ancient Rome by Catharine Edwards.
Yale, 287 pp., £25, June 2007, 978 0 300 11208 5Show More
The Death of Socrates: Hero, Villain, Chatterbox, Saint by Emily Wilson.
Profile, 247 pp., £15.99, August 2007, 978 1 86197 762 5Show More
“... Socrates in his cell, drinking hemlock. Cato at Utica, disembowelling himself not once but twice. And Seneca, with cuts in his arms and legs, waiting for the blood to trickle out of his shrivelled old veins. There is a reason these deaths have resonated with writers and thinkers throughout history: why, for example, Joseph Addison would write a drama in praise of Cato; why this drama would be admired by George Washington and imitated by Eustace Budgell; and why the latter’s 1737 suicide note would read: ‘What Cato did, and Addison approv’d,/Cannot be wrong ...”