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Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day Hardcover – June 11, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson (June 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 050005147X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500051474
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #816,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A deadpan delight...required reading for time travelers headed to Italy. -- Passport

An excellent guide to Roman life: pack it alongside your modern guide. -- Times Literary Supplement

Great background for those planning to stroll the streets of modern-day Rome. -- Virtuoso Life --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Philip Matyszak's previous books include Chronicle of the Roman Republic, Enemies of Rome, and Sons of Caesar.

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Customer Reviews

If you have the remotest interest in ancient Rome, you will love this book.
Herge
The result is a fun way to almost experience what life in ancient Rome was really like.
Bruce Trinque
The idea aside, the book is well written and packed full of interesting tidbits.
Paul Harmon, Editor, Business Process Trends

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Trinque VINE VOICE on June 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day" presents itself as a guide book for visiting ancient Rome -- not touring the remnants of ancient Rome as they exist today, but a trip back across eighteen centuries to Rome of about 200 AD, with advice on where to stay, information about quaint local customs, and suggestions of "must see" sights. Oh, and there is a list of useful phrases for the traveler such as "Noli me necare, cape omnias pecunias meas" ("Don't kill me, here's all my money"). The result is a fun way to almost experience what life in ancient Rome was really like.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Paul Harmon, Editor, Business Process Trends on July 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day is a wonderful book and a great idea. In essence, it tells you want you need to know, circa 200 AD, if you plan to visit Rome. It tells you about the problems of getting there, the problems of finding lodging and meals, and, of course, the things every tourist will want to visit.
As a history buff, I loved it when mystery novelists like Davis and Saylor decided to create detectives and place them in Rome. It's led to other detectives in medieval Japan and Ancient Greece. One can only hope that Matyszak's cleaver idea will lead to guidebooks to ancient Thebes, Athens and Babylon, or perhaps guides to Song dynasty Westlake or Heien Kyoto.
The idea aside, the book is well written and packed full of interesting tidbits. What's missing is a bit more in the way of illustration. For example, distances from cities were described, but a map would have helped. Ditto the major roads into Rome. And what I really wanted was a detailed map of the Forums, pictures of the major buildings, and a description of a walk through the various Forums -- rather like some recent guidebooks have done for the Grand Canal in Venice, or the Seine in Centeral Paris. Guidebooks have come a long way in the last 10 years. This one seems more like a guide one would have bought in 1990, not one of the beautifully illustrated ones you get today.
Congratulations Philip Matyszak -- you have written a delightful book and, hopefully stimulated others to create similar works for their favorate historical periods.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Sherry Christie on July 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read a lot of reference books to give myself a sense of what it was like strolling the streets of Rome 2,000 years ago. Turns out I could have just read this book and saved myself a lot of research! Mr. Matyszak writes with dry British wit and a sort of bifocal vision, not only reporting on what a tourist in 200 A.D. would see but tipping off the reader about what's going to happen to it over the next several centuries. It's a very easy and enjoyable read, peppered with appropriate quotes from Roman writers. As Michelinus would say, "Valet iter"!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gunther on April 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
I wanted to rate this four stars, because its "guidebook" approach is clever, and Matyszak writes gracefully and knowingly about ancient Rome. But there is a huge flaw in this book. What does the enthusiastic time-traveler want, more than anything, in a good guidebook? Maps! And visuals! That's where the book falls down. The only city map supplied (pp. 136-137) is low in detail, especially around the forum area, and misses out half of the buildings that are described in the text. As for visuals, there are just a few sketch drawings of building exteriors, and only eleven views (they are nice color plates, though) of building interiors. To get a sense of what it was really like to walk around ancient Rome, this is just not enough. Hence, only three stars for me.

This book is a good example of the challenges and trade-offs of print, as opposed to web, publication. There are literally dozens of current (2009) websites that will give the viewer an excellent walkabout through the ancient city, with VR, even 3D, and 360-degree reconstructions galore; it's very expensive, although not impossible, to reproduce these adequately in a printed book. On the other hand, Matyszak's text is better at least in some ways than much of what is out there on the web. Wish there was some way to combine the two - actually I wish that this book had been published on the Web to combine Matyszak's text with a full visual walkthrough. That kind of publishing has not really been done yet, but I think it's the wave of the future.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael Valdivielso on July 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A guide for Rome of 200 AD, it is full of history, advice to keep out of trouble, and lots of humor. It really gives you a sense of daily life during the height of the Roman Empire. The chapters really do their best to explain how to get around Rome, from places to eat to sites to see, from the games to the marketplaces, from the brothels to the temples. There is a section that even explains how to change your money. From the page numbers, to the list of useful phrases, you get the sense that this would be a great tour book for a time traveler. If only you knew how to speak Latin and had a Time Machine.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By kedger on December 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I wondered whether this would prove to be too much of a gimmick, but took a chance and am glad I did. The book has just the right mix of facts, impressions, humor, and typical travel information truly geared to an ancient traveler coming to the imperial capital. Both fun and informative from start to finish.
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