A couple of years ago a good friend and I attended a living room concert through the couchsurfing online community. The living room concert was spurred by Jim Tambofeet, a charismatic, traveling musician with an energetic style reflective of 1990’s punk pop music such as the Presidents of the United States of America. His “punk rock for kids” performance included playing the guitar with his feet, singing songs about aqua cats, and repeating digital loops with an old Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) controller.

After the main performance, the traveling musician invited the living room guests to come to “the stage” and play their style of music as well. One guest gladly draped his guitar across his knee and began strumming a song about the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus. His lyrics and song were filled with furious passion, as he told the tale of the Roman emperor through six simple strings. At the end of his song, he stated that he loved Roman history, and felt that a solid of understanding of Roman history could help us all better understand our world today (at least in the United States).

The memory of that night was engrained in my mind, lightly gilded with a curiosity for the ancient Roman world. Two years passed, and one night, a good friend and I were out on an evening stroll. We spontaneously wandered into a local bookstore. There sitting upon the front shelf was the sequel to the song of Augustus. “SPQR – Senatus Publicus Quitus Romanus” by Mary Beard, sat on the shelf with a sheen of golden laurels on the front cover. I immediately remembered the living room concert, and purchased the book.

Thinking back to the bard’s passionate call those two years ago, I embarked on the quest to learn more about the ancient republic and its citizens. The lessons gathered from that book, and the way that it changed my interpretation of the United States as a nation shall be outlined in future blog posts 🙂 Stay tuned!