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Pompeii: The Life of A Roman Town by Mary…

Pompeii: The Life of A Roman Town (2008)

by Mary Beard

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (18)  Swedish (3)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Latvian (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Like much of Mary Beard's work, this points out almost as much about what we don't know - or what we think we know but have in fact constructed for ourselves - as what we do know about Pompeii. It is an enjoyable and enlightening stroll through the archaeology and social history of Pompeii, and although it is not organised as a companion to a visit it would make a good preface or coda to one. It captures highlights rather than being a systematic survey, and is written for the generalist who already has some classical background but is not an expert. ( )
  jsburbidge | Aug 23, 2017 |
A fascinating "insider" look on the real Pompeii by Mary Beard, a Professor of Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, that unwraps some of the mysteries of the city covered in ash in 79 CE. (I confess I only picked it up from a library shelf because it was at the height of the Icelandic volcano explosion that is spewing ash over Europe, and I thought it might be an interesting book to read -- much like I re-read Camus' The Plague at the height of the SARS epidemic, but anyway....) This book de-myths Pompeii and tells the story of the city as you've probably not read or heard it before. It is full of fascinating facts and stories, often illustrated by the graffiti of the city, or other telling remnants. It strips bare some of the nonsense local guides like to tell of Pompeii; informs us that the days of previous tremors had already caused many of its inhabitants to flee; that it is likely that a lot of the missing goods of the city were long ago pried from their hiding places by early looters; and that frankly, much we've been told has been pure conjecture or mythologizing. Fifteen pages in, I simply couldn't put it down. (Also fascinating in terms of how much the science of archaeology has improved over the past few decades.) ( )
  pbjwelch | Jul 25, 2017 |
I listened to this rather than reading it and I really enjoyed it. I thought the reader did a really good job and delivered the writer's work very well.
As for the book itself I liked the fact that for the most part the writer did not claim that she knew for certain that this was what life in Pompeii was like, instead she wrote that this is what she believed or what she thought had happened based on her interpretation of the evidence found during the many digs that have occured at Pompeii. ( )
  KarenDuff | Jun 1, 2016 |
Mary Beard takes a careful look at Pompeii, being sure to make statements based on the archaeological evidence. Very good overview of what the evidence tells us about life in this Roman town. ( )
  rakerman | Apr 28, 2016 |
Well written, clear and humorous. Explains what we currently know about life in Pompeii, what we don't know, what some of the controversies are. I knew that the famous murals were fading, but I didn't know about the damage to some of the excavated buildings by Allied bombs in WWII. Has extensive bibliography, floor plans, line drawings and photographs.
  ritaer | Mar 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
"Aside from the melodramatic and misleading American title (there’s a minimum of volcanology or disaster drama; in Britain, the title is aptly “Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town”), this is a wonderful book, for the impressive depth of information it comfortably embraces, for its easygoing erudition and, not least, for its chatty, personable style."

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Beardprimary authorall editionscalculated
de Lozoya, TeófiloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klynne, AllanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rabasseda, JuanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verheij, BoukjeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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En las primeras horas del 25 de agosto de 79 d.C., la lluvia de lapilli que caía sobre Pompeya empezó a escampar.
In the early hours of 25 August 79 CE, the rain of pumice falling on Pompeii was easing off. - Introduction
Down a quiet back street in Pompeii, not far from the city walls to the north and just a few minutes' walk from the Herculaneum Gate, is a small and unprepossessing house now known as the House of the Etruscan Column - Chapter One
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This work was published in the UK as Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town and in the US as The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0674029763, Hardcover)

Pompeii is the most famous archaeological site in the world, visited by more than two million people each year.

Yet it is also one of the most puzzling, with an intriguing and sometimes violent history, from the sixth century BCE to the present day. Destroyed by Vesuvius in 79 CE, the ruins of Pompeii offer the best evidence we have of life in the Roman Empire. But the eruptions are only part of the story. In The Fires of Vesuvius, acclaimed historian Mary Beard makes sense of the remains. She explores what kind of town it was--more like Calcutta or the Costa del Sol?--and what it can tell us about “ordinary” life there. From sex to politics, food to religion, slavery to literacy, Beard offers us the big picture even as she takes us close enough to the past to smell the bad breath and see the intestinal tapeworms of the inhabitants of the lost city. She resurrects the Temple of Isis as a testament to ancient multiculturalism. At the Suburban Baths we go from communal bathing to hygiene to erotica.

Recently, Pompeii has been a focus of pleasure and loss: from Pink Floyd’s memorable rock concert to Primo Levi’s elegy on the victims. But
Pompeii still does not give up its secrets quite as easily as it may seem. This book shows us how much more and less there is to Pompeii than a city frozen in time as it went about its business on 24 August 79.

Amazon.com Exclusive: Author Mary Beard on the Ten Reasons Why the Romans Were Great Lovers--and Ten Books to Tell You How

1. Staying power
Roman lovers could keep going all night (at least if we take their word for it). Ovid – the first-century-BC’s man about town – claims that he could perform nine times in a single night. Read all about it in his ‘Love Poems” (Book 3, number 7). Read: Ovid, The Erotic Poems, translated by Peter Green.

2. Sweet talk
Roman men could make you feel so good. Mark Antony and Julius Caesar both talked their way into the heart of feisty Cleopatra. The chat-up lines of Rome’s founding father Aeneas drove Queen Dido senseless. Read: Virgil, The Aeneid, translated by Robert Fagles. (Go straight to Book 4)

3. Body beautiful
There was no flab or beer belly on these six-pack hunks. All that gym and exercise kept Greeks and Romans bronzed and trim. Read: Nigel Spivey, The Ancient Olympics.

4. Inventiveness
Sexual positions became (literally) an art-form for the Romans--two-somes, three-somes and more. You’d better stay supple though, or those more testing acrobatics will be beyond you. Read: John Clarke, Looking at Lovemaking: Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art.

5. Romantic agony
Roman men could do anguish better than any others. “I hate and I love . . . and it hurts” as the poet Catullus succinctly wrote to his fickle mistress. Don’t expect to escape a Roman affair without tears. Read: Catullus, The Poems, translated by Peter Green.

6. Great pick-up lines
Romans knew they had to work hard at the first impressions. Ovid, in a lover’s manual, gives the beginner plenty of advice on how to break the ice. Stand right next to her at a procession, and when some elaborate display goes past explain to her what it is. It doesn’t matter, says Ovid, if you don’t really know – make it sound plausible, to impress. Read: Ovid, The Art of Love and Other Poems, translated by J. H. Mozley.

7. Open minds
Not many Romans were prudes. Most men were happy to contemplate sex with women, men, or if it came to it, animals – just so long as they were the active, not the passive partner. Read: Apuleius, The Golden Ass, translated by E. J. Kenney.

8. Rough-trade
Roman women went for the rough, tough sporting heroes of the ancient world. Successful gladiators became the heart-throbs of the Roman girls. Read: Catharine Edwards, The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome.

9. In touch with their inner-selves
The anxiety of Roman men was one of their more endearing features. Images of the phallus were everywhere in Roman towns – but so too were images of castration and mutilation. The ancient man never took his prowess for granted. Carlin A. Barton, The Sorrows of the Ancient Romans.

10. Not afraid to say 'I love you'

The walls of the buried city of Pompeii are covered with written messages from satisfied (and a few unsatisfied) men. ‘Oh Chloe, I had a wonderful time, twice over in this very spot, I love you. . . .’ 
Read: Antonio Varone, Eroticism in Pompeii. And, in case you are looking for the woman’s point of view, try Marilyn B. Skinner, Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:25 -0400)

Destroyed by Vesuvius in 79 CE, the ruins of Pompeii offer the best evidence we have of life in the Roman Empire. But the eruptions are only part of the story. In The Fires of Vesuvius, acclaimed historian Mary Beard makes sense of the remains. She explores what kind of town it was -- more like Calcutta or the Costa del Sol? -- and what it can tell us about "ordinary" life there. --from publisher description.… (more)

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