Mary Beard, a professor of classics at the University of Cambridge, is known for her frank and provocative reading of history. More than a dozen books and frequent newspaper articles, book reviews, TV documentaries and a prolific Twitter account have made her one of England’s best-known public intellectuals. She has a new book, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, out this month. The Smithsonian Magazine spoke to her about Rome’s most interesting characters, best slogans and surprising legacies, including its cutting-edge lavatory design.
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