Virtual Event: Mary Beard with Intelligence SquaredTwelve Caesars

Mary Beard on Images of Power from the Ancient to the Modern World

What does the face of power look like? Who gets commemorated in art and why? And how do we react to statues of figures we deplore? 

On October 5 Mary Beard, Britain’s best known classicist, comes to Intelligence Squared to talk about the ideas in her new book Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern. Against the background of current disputes over historic statues, Beard will explain how for more than 2,000 years portraits of the rich and powerful in the Western world have been shaped by the image of Roman emperors, especially the Twelve Caesars– from the ruthless Julius Caesar to the fly-torturing Domitian. She will reflect on why these emperors are still all around us, recreated as lavish sculptures and paintings of the good and the great, and as cartoons vilifying contemporary politicians; and she will reveal the unexpected places we find these images – from sixteenth-century wallpaper and eighteenth-century waxworks to chocolate coins and boxer shorts.

In this highly visual event, Beard will take us on a tour through 2,000 years of art and cultural history, taking a fresh look at works by artists from Memling to Mantegna, and exploring changing identities, misidentifications, fakes, and often ambivalent portrayals of authority.

Join us as, in conversation with the cultural critic Shahidha Bari, Beard shows why images of Roman emperors – murderous autocrats though they may have been –  still matter in the history of art and culture and the representation of power. 

Mary Beard is one of the world’s leading classicists and cultural commentators. A specialist in Roman history and art, she is professor of classics at the University of Cambridge and the author of bestselling and award-winning books, including SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome and Women and Power: A Manifesto. She has also written and presented many television programs, from Civilisations and Meet the Romans to The Shock of the Nude. She lives in Cambridge, England. Twitter @wmarybeard