Review: In ‘SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome,’ Mary Beard Tackles Myths and More

About Caligula, for example, she writes: “The idea of some modern scholars that his dinner parties came close to orgies, with his sisters ‘underneath’ him and his wife ‘on top,’ rests simply on a mistranslation of the words of Suetonius, who is referring to the place settings — ‘above’ and ‘below’ — at a Roman dining table.” Yes, this is how rumors start.