'Practical Ethics for Roman Gentlemen' is a collection of historical anecdotes written during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius in the first century A.D. The book aims to redefine the significance of the work of Valerius Maxiums, author of The Memorable Deeds of the Men of Rome and Foreign Nations and is likely to become the standard reference work on this author. Dr Skidmore argues that modern scholarship's view of Valerius' work as a mere source-book for rhetoricians is misconceived. The popularity of the work during the Middle Ages and Renaissance was due to its value to the readers of those times as a source of moral exhortation and guidance which was as relevant to them as it had been to Valerius' contemporaries. The wider appeal of the book lies in its examination of earlier forms of exemplary literature, in its discussion of how Roman literature was communicated to its audience, and in its original theory concerning the identity of Valerius Maximus himself.
A welcome addition to the field of Valerian studies, . . . An important contribution to the study of Valerius and, more generally, to the place of exemplarity and the anecdote in the transmission of ideological values in Roman culture.
Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 87
This book has a number of advantages. Unlike Valerius, it is extremely accessible: the argument is broken down into brief chapters, and translations follow the quotations. It provides a good introductory discussion to the centrality of exempla in Roman life and thought, and it offers a challenge to the traditional approach to Valerius.
Bryn Mawr, Classical Review