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Working IX to V: Orgy Planners, Funeral Clowns, and Other Prized Professions of the Ancient World Paperback – May 29, 2007
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About the Author
Vicki Leon is a writer, traveler, and historian who has built a wide readership with her Uppity Women series. She lives in Morro Bay, California.
Top Customer Reviews
Enter Vicki Leon, who does a Studs Terkel ("Working") on the past.
Which is why this is such an excellent book. Leon strips away Foucault's tendency for obfuscation to sound profound (and his rather specialized taste for the louche and bizarre), and doesn't stoop to Terkel's socialist "history" as oppressor and inescapable condition.
Leon's prose is also better than journalists, which makes this a fun read. She doesn't do an exhaustive treatment of jobs in the past: tallow wright (someone who renders cowfat for candles and soap) and grease monkey (a usually samll boy sailor who greased oar gunnels) aren't here. But the ancient world's professions are on full display. My favourites included are: vicarious, nomenclator, fishmonger, purple seller (biblical!), sycophants (yikes), orgy planners, beast supplier, postal worker (now you'll know how going postal originated) and my favourite....psychopompus.Read more ›
But Leon manages to cover a broad range of professions from slave-driver and gladiator to dream incubators and sycophants (who informed on fig smugglers) who have no counterpart in today's world as well as many others that will be around forever in one form or another.
Entries are brief and breezy, but very informative. Leon organizes her jobs and avocations in categories - Slave jobs (the best ones are in aristocratic homes), temple and entertainment jobs, food professions, law and order, entertainment and the arts, etc., giving her sections such titles as "Small-time Operators, Corporate Rackets," and "Doomed Careers and Deathless Pursuits."
There are also brief profiles throughout of people who excelled in one way or another at their posts.
Leon's relentlessly droll style grows a little wearing but she does pack an amazing amount of information in this well-organized, broad-ranging collection, giving a lively, detailed picture of teeming life in the ancient world.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Vickie Leon makes the origins of hydrolic concrete interesting to someone who has little interest in engineering. Imagine how fascinating the orgies and funeral clowns are!Published 12 months ago by R L Nogle
This is not a deep scholarly work, but I'm sure it wasn't really intended to be. The author's light, whimsical tone would have been refreshing if it had been toned down just a... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Robertson W. Shinnick
I haven't read it in about 7 months now. I was reading this when I was working nights. It is interesting to read about all the jobs that no longer exist today. ie.. Funeral Clowns. Read morePublished on January 4, 2014 by Linda Bowman
This is a well-written, informative, and funny book about ancient Rome. The style is sassy, and there are a few passages that may not be appropriate for young teens. Read morePublished on March 9, 2013 by anonymous
Okay, so this isn't a serious history book--nevertheless, Leon, using humor and snarky comments, manages to turn what might be thought to be a dull subject into a charming little... Read morePublished on November 20, 2011 by Jeri
A good book with little know facts for those interested in the Roman Empire with some carryover to ancient Greece. Read morePublished on March 1, 2011 by Neal
I bought this book on the fly at half price books. I really enjoyed it. I find learning about the way people lived in the past very interesting. Read morePublished on March 12, 2010 by Svarog The Mighty
This book does not merit a long review. (My original review is now the title of this review. Evidently Amazon doesn't like four or five word reviews. Read morePublished on November 24, 2009 by Philip S. Griffey