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A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome: Daily Life, Mysteries, and Curiosities Paperback – May 26, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Many books, documentaries and movies claim to chronicle daily life in ancient Rome, but it's rare to find a narrative so encrusted in detail as this lively offering from an Italian author and television host. Adopting a first person plural voice, Angela takes us on an eagle-eyed tour of the ancient city on an "ordinary day" in the year A.D. 115. Serving as a Virgil-like guide, Angela begins in a Domus, an upper-class home, exploring its meticulous inner workings, from the aqueduct hook-up to the slave labor. Out in the streets, Angela provides a fascinating, nail-by-nail description of Roman construction before schooling readers in the particulars of buying slaves. Next up is a bloody scene at the Coliseum (featuring hungry lions and their worthy meal), and a steamy sunset tour of bedrooms, salons, and sexual mores; Romans viewed sex as "a gift of the gods," something to enjoy, and would "judge our sexuality as excessively complicated... by mental complexes and roles." Angela's rigorous research and populist style, aided by Conti's seamless translation, should fascinate casual readers as well as dedicated Italophiles.
Praise for A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome
"Angela's rigorous research and populist style, aided by Conti's seamless translation, should fascinate casual readers as well as dedicated Italophiles.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
"Alberto Angela makes an important but often complicated subject fascinating and accessible. The reader is catapulted into a day in the Imperial capital and uncovers affinities, secrets, curiosities, and anecdotes about the inhabitants of ancient Rome . . . Angela transforms his book into a kind of three-dimensional set in which the reader strolls, visiting homes, markets, open air school, baths, and even public latrines."
"One discovers a wealth of details about the curious habits of ancient Romans, from their recipes to their tastes in interior design, from life in the Insulae, the giant Roman housing projects, to the shocking slave markets."
—Il Corriere della Sera
"A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome feels like a cinematic tour through the apartments and streets of ancient Rome. [The book] is an excellent introduction to the daily life of Roman, likely to inspire further interest in Roman history for the reader."
"In this scrupulous portrait of ancient Rome, Alberto Angela breathes life into history's intimate aspects, paying homage to that history made not by great figures but by individuals, those citizens of Rome whose daily habits and energies contributed to the grandeur and power of the Roman Empire."
“A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome produces a remarkably illustrative overview of how Romans of that time lived. Angela has succeeded at delivering a large quantity of information with an affable, inviting style.”
—Kristin Merrihew, MostlyFiciton Book Reviews
"Reading this book is like being with a tour guide who has taken you back in time, and is giving you a day’s guided tour of 115 CE Rome.”
“This is a wonderful book for lovers of history and novices alike.”
—History and other Thoughts
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Top Customer Reviews
Of course, no discussion about Rome would be complete without the baths: “Come to think of it, all our imagined reconstructions of ancient Rome are ‘clean’. In reality, they are missing an important detail: smoke… wood is the fuel of the great public baths, ecological monsters that burn trees nonstop, day after day, month after month, year after year—For centuries, almost without interruption.” That certainly puts things into perspective! Of course, the baths are a thing of beauty and a major part of the daily routine. They are also more than just a series of rooms; you get “gardens, woods, statues, and fountains…The only places you can enjoy this type of atmosphere today are the parks of big modern cities.” This book is full of such anecdotes which makes ancient Rome resound with images (both in words and in drawings) that bring everyday people closer to our points of view and make them something we can relate to. Although to me it seemed like the book was written in one draft, I found it very enjoyable and learned much I will find useful in the future.
I have read other accounts about Rome in the early days but most dealt with wars and military accomplishments which I am not interested in.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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