This image is the cover for the book Rome as a Guide to the Good Life

Rome as a Guide to the Good Life

A unique, portable guidebook that sketches Rome’s great philosophical tradition while also providing an engaging travel companion to the city.

This is a guidebook to Rome for those interested in both la dolce vita and what the ancient Romans called the vita beata—the good life. Philosopher Scott Samuelson offers a thinker’s tour of the Eternal City, rooting ideas from this philosophical tradition within the geography of the city itself. As he introduces the city’s great works of art and its most famous sites—the Colosseum, the Forum, the Campo de’ Fiori—Samuelson also gets to the heart of the knotty ethical and emotional questions they pose. Practicing philosophy in place, Rome as a Guide to the Good Life tackles the profound questions that most tours of Rome only bracket. What does all this history tell us about who we are?

In addition to being a thoughtful philosophical companion, Samuelson is also a memorable tour guide, taking us on plenty of detours and pausing to linger over an afternoon Negroni, sample four classic Roman pastas, or explore the city’s best hidden gems. With Samuelson’s help, we understand why Rome has inspired philosophers such as Lucretius and Seneca, poets and artists such as Horace and Caravaggio, filmmakers like Fellini, and adventurers like Rosa Bathurst. This eclectic guidebook to Roman philosophy is for intrepid wanderers and armchair travelers alike—anyone who wants not just a change of scenery, but a change of soul.

Scott Samuelson

Scott Samuelson lives in Iowa City, Iowa, where he is professor of philosophy at Kirkwood Community College. He has taught the humanities in universities, colleges, prisons, houses of worship, and bars. He has also worked as a movie reviewer, television host, and sous-chef  at a French restaurant down a gravel road. He is the author of The Deepest Human Life and Seven Ways of Looking at Pointless Suffering, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

The University of Chicago Press