Luxuria is one of those hard words for beginning Latin students to get their heads around. It does and doesn’t mean what we mean by “luxury.” Maybe the best explanation is that in the modern world we have a very shallow understanding of luxury. The term is used mainly in advertising, and mainly for quite ordinary goods: “luxury” dinnerware or bubble bath, or mid-price cars touted as “the ultimate in luxury.”
But for the Romans, luxuria was...
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Sarah Ruden’s most recent book is Paul Among the People (Image Books). She has translated four books of classical literature (among them the Aeneid) and is the author of Other Places, a book of poetry. She is a visiting scholar at Wesleyan University and lives with her husband in Middleton, Connecticut.