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

3.9 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,208,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I originally bought the paperback of this book quite a few years ago. I find it to be a very engaging history of the Roman people during the height of the Empire. However, after buying the e-book edition in order to use it in a class, I found that there were so many spelling mistakes in both the English and the renderings of Latin terms and names That I cringed at least two or three times per page.

My advice is to buy the print edition until somebody gets off their keister and corrects the mistakes in the e-book edition. I have given this book a one star review. I give the print edition five stars.
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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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book dates from 1940, so much of the research is dated, and many of the "current" references are to things that were au courant in pre-war France. Also, the cultural biases are half a century out of date -- many women (and men) today would have no problems with some of the feminine activities he decries.

What's worse, it's uncorrected machine scanned text, available at a number of university websites for free. And no, it doesn't have the Mary Beard introduction.

Otherwise, it's well-written and an interesting read.
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