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Daily Life In Ancient Rome (Penguin History) Paperback – International Edition, March 5, 1991

24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"Carcopino's pledge to his readers was to open up to them some traces of the world that lay underneath the grandeur that remains the public face of ancient Rome. . . . No one has ever done it better."-Mary Beard, from the Introduction --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin History
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin UK; Reissue edition (March 5, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014012487X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140124873
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,825,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
Reading Jérôme Carcopino's timeless account of life in ancient Rome brings the reader back to the dark, narrow, crowded Roman streets, flanked on both sides by teetering, five-story tenements. Although written in a style of long ago, therein lies the charm of this book. Jérôme Carcopino has effortlessly summoned 1st and 2nd Century Rome back to life. And what a society of contrasts he evokes: on the one hand, the highly refined aspects of Roman society, epitomized by the public baths, the public parks, the theater, and the dinners hosted by the wealthy for their friends; on the other hand, he describes compellingly the dark side of Roman society, in particular, slavery and the gladiatorial games which entertained the Roman public with the appallingly casual slaughter of both man and beast. His detailed accounts depict horrific spectacles pitting man against man, man against beast, beast against beast -- and woman against dwarf. The most interesting part of his book, though, is his insight respecting the toxic impact slavery had upon Roman society, both upon the poor pleb in general and upon the Roman family in particular. This book is a must for anyone captivated by Roman social history.
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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Were it not for the customer reviews below, I would have rejected this book for having three strikes against it: it was written in 1940, an English translation (groan) from French, and published by a university press -- a prescription for dated unreadablity. But not so! Though at first the typeface and writing style feel a little anachronistic (and the first chapter does NOT represent the richness to come), it quickly becomes charming and flowing. And what a bounty of fascinating detail is packed into its pages!
I wholly agree with what my unknown compatriots below have said. I can only add that I finished it with that rare, dejected feeling of "Oh, no! I've run out of book!"
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 9, 1997
Format: Paperback
Jerome Carcopino's scholarly work on how the Romans of the second century A.D. saw and lived their lives has been in print for almost 60 years, and with good reason. This book provides, in addition to the basic facts and figures, a poignant commentary on the people and their times. Always reflective, the author does not hesitate to express his opinions (often in the first person) on his ancient subjects, whether they inspire admiration or revulsion. To bolster these opinions, he frequently quotes the views of contemporary scholars as well as ancient sources. While much of the text related to the modern era is dated and the archeological research treated as "recent" may have occurred very early in our century, "Daily Life in Ancient Rome" does not need updating or revising. The basic premise of the book, i.e., the social life and customs of the Romans, remains unaffected by the passage of time. Furthermore, the unaltered text and its references give us an interesting glimpse of Roman archeology and historical writing during the first half of the twentieth century and earlier. E. O. Lorimer's English translation of the original French text is fluid and well structured, while the bibliography and notes by Henry T. Rowell are excellent. "Daily Life in Ancient Rome" is a welcome reference for the student of Roman history
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sojourner Wolf on January 30, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Though considered a premire source for information about daily life in ancient Rome, the book is not without its flaws. For example, the author subscribes to the romantic notion that the gladiators always saluted the emperors with the "Hail, Caeser!" when in fact there is only one recorded instance of this during the reign of Claudius. Also, he treats fictional works, particularly Petronius's Satyricon, as if it were factual reporting rather than the hyperbolic satire that it is. In the Bibliographic section of the second edition (Carcopino did not include a bibliography in his original work), the editor admits Carcopino utilized the questionable source called the Augustan History. The author, in addition, shows little empathy for his subject but much negativity that left this reader wondering how slanted was his work in order to support his prejudices. Worthwhile for supplementary information, but I would suggest not using it as a main source for information about daily life in ancient Rome.
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Format: Paperback
You might want to turn directly to the last chapter in which the gluttony and debauchery of Imperial Rome is most clearly spelled out. Then again you might want to wait for that as one does for a dessert. Then again I shouldn't be such a smart aleck.

Jerome Carcopino who had this published in France in 1939 is a Latin and Greek scholar from the old school, from the days when Latin was required in our public schools and any educated person had at least a smattering of the dry stuff. This book presumes some Latin and some knowledge of Roman history. Additionally the Latin is not always translated into English--I presume it is the same in Carcopino's original French. And he refers to personages in Roman history without giving dates or even a sense of temporal order such as an American author might refer to Emerson or the Nixon administration and feel comfortable knowing that his readers would be able to form an approximate time frame. Furthermore, there is a pedant's feel to much of the book with Carcopino giving us again and again the exact Latin terminology in italics following the English expression. Readers interested in learning or brushing up on their Latin will find this most agreeable, and readers like me, who have little Latin and less Greek, will enjoy recognizing the Latin originals in their ancient usage that have given us English cognates. Thus "frigidarium" refers to the cold part of the Roman bath, and a "paedagogus" was a slave who served as a tutor.

Sometimes Carcopino (and I must say his able English translator, E. O. Lorimer) gives us the English translation following the Latin, and often it is a famous Latin phrase that will delight the eyes of the learned.
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