The reception accorded to my Life in Ancient Athens has led me to write the present companion work with an eye to the same class of readers. In the preface to the former volume it was said: "I have sought to leave an impression true and sound, so far as it goes, and also vivid and distinct. The style adopted has therefore been the opposite of the pedantic, utilizing any vivacities of method which are consistent with truth of fact." The same principles have guided me in the present equally unpretentious treatise. I agree entirely with Mr. Warde Fowler when he says: "I firmly believe that the one great hope for classical learning and education lies in the interest which the unlearned public may be brought to feel in ancient life and thought."
For the general reader there is perhaps no period in the history of the ancient world which is more interesting than the one here chosen. Yet, so far as I know, there exists no sufficiently popular work dealing with this period alone and presenting in moderate compass a clear general view of the matters of most moment. My endeavour has been to represent as faithfully as possible the Age of Nero, and nowhere in the book is it implied that what is true for that age is necessarily as true for any other. The reader who is not a special student of history or antiquities is perhaps as often confused by descriptions of ancient life which cover too many generations as by those - often otherwise excellent - which include too much detail.
I have necessarily consulted not only the Latin and Greek writers who throw light upon the time, but also all the best-known Standard works of modern date. It is perhaps scarcely necessary to state that in matters of contemporary government, administration, and public life my guides have been chiefly Mommsen, Arnold, and Greenidge; for social life Marquardt, Friedlaender, and Becker-Goell; for topography and buildings Jordan, Huelsen, Lanciani, and Middleton; nor that the Dictionaries of Smith and of Daremberg and Saglio have been always at hand, as well as Baumeister's Denkmaeler, and Guhl and Koner'sLife of the Greeks and Romans. The admirable Pompeii of Mau-Kelsey has been, of course, indispensable. I have also derived profit from the writings of Prof. Sir W. M. Ramsay in connexion with St. Paul, and from Conybeare and Howson's Life and Epistles of the Apostle. Useful hints have been found in Mr. Warde Fowler's Social Life in Rome in the Age of Cicero, and in Prof. Dill's Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius. A personal study of ancient sites, monuments, and objects of antiquity at Rome, Pompeii, and elsewhere has naturally been of prime value. Those intimately acquainted with the immense amount of the available material will best realize the difficulty there has been in deciding how much to say and how much to "leave in the inkstand."
For the drawings other than those of which another source is specified I have to thank Miss M. O'Shea, on whom has occasionally fallen the difficult task of giving ocular form to the mental visions of one who happens to be no draughtsman. For the rest I make acknowledgment to those books from which the illustrations have been directly derived for my own purposes, without reference to more original sources.
I am especially grateful for the permission to use so considerable a number of illustrations from the Pompeii of Mau-Kelsey, from Professor Waldstein's Herculaneum, and from Lanciani's New Tales of Old Rome.