Ancient Rome provides an ideal subject for the Biesty treatment as he anatomises and characterises this touchstone of urban organisation. It’s the ‘Castor and Pollux’ Festival and we explore the city with young toff Titus Cotta and his senator dad. We observe the cool splendour of their own home, the busy street, sacrifices at Jupiter’s temple, Forum, Colosseum complete with elephants, and the busy docks before having a good scrape and bath and taking in a chariot race. Given these opportunities to portray cardinal features of Roman life, Biesty excels in the manner to which, if we’re used to it, we react with renewed admiration. For the first-time Biesty-reader, this will be either unforgettably absorbing or a total turn-off, according to personal inclination.
The pictures are admirably illustrated by Solway’s text which matches Biesty’s contribution in precision. In a happy conjunction of the two the word ‘pizza’ accompanies a dog lifting its leg on the bakery wall. And I’m still wondering ‘Ubi Wally est?’ For everyone from five to 95.