24 JANUARY 1936, Page 34


Current Literature

By Grant Showerman

The advertisement on the wrapper of Professor Showerman's Monuments and Men. of Ancient Rome (Appleton-Century, 21s.) tells us that the author " is always the scholar and never the pedant," which, being interpreted, means that this is a thoroughly popular book. It has both the virtues and vices of such a book. It seems to make no vital contribution to knowledge, but it presents an agreeable diet, with enough history to sugar the pill of archaeology and enough pictures to sugar the pill of history. It is a random and discursive book. The author talks of Roman buildings, their distribu- tion, destruction and excavation. Then he flies off at a tangent and talks about Cicero and Caesar, agreeably enough.

In this part one is tempted to wonder at what has been put in and what left out. It is assumed, for instance, that the

reader will know the exact origin and purpose of the Cetiline conspiracy ; on the other hand, Friends, Romans, Countrymen is printed almost in extols°, together with other long excerpts from the same play. In later chapters Horace, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and others occupy the main positions. The book has over 150 illustrations, reproduced unfortunately in collotype. It is difficult to see how the reader is advanced by a photograph of the Danube showing nothing but a large paddle-steamer or by one of the Doubs showing a row of typical French provincial houses. We may be allowed to suggest that it was in the sixteenth rather than the fourteenth century (as stated on p. 40) that the Palatine became the Farnese Gardens. And this reminds us also to record our view that Professor Showerman is perhaps too kind to Fascist excavators and does not considerwhat diunage they have done in destroying important Renaissance or Baroque work often to reveal but the dingiest fragment of Augustan masonry.