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A Charming Book About Ancient Rome

I was perusing the shelves in the travel section of one branch of the Tulsa Library the other day, and picked up a book called "A Day in the life of Ancient Rome" by Alberto Angela. I opened it to a random page, and was instantly enchanted.

This is a lovely book. I'm only about 1/3 of the way through, and I'm enjoying every minute, every page.

Angela starts us in a domus in Rome on a Tuesday in the year 115 a.d., and carries on throughout the day. But he doesn't limit his description to the upper class; no, we also visit an insula, a Roman apartment building, where the tenants (on the lower floors) are middle class, and the upper floors are decidedly lower class. There are also descriptions of the lives of slaves.

One of the things that I'm appreciating, is how the descriptions in the book match and plump out the things we have learned about Roman life in our travels. Just this year we visited an archeological site in Vaison-la-Romaine which matched almost to the square inch his description of the layout and function of the domus. He talks about mosaics, such as those we say in the Roman villa in Sicily, and theaters and amphitheaters, as we saw in Rome and Orange.

It's definitely "accessible," but doesn't talk down to its readers. Very entertaining, very informative, and I recommend it highly.

Posted by
11387 posts

Sounds lovely will look for it thanks !

Posted by
1863 posts

Jane, when I saw the title of your thread, I just knew when I click on it was another great book recommendation from you! After multiple visits to Rome, I can never get enough of Roman history. It's on my list after my current Central Europe studies. Grazie.

Posted by
175 posts

You are such a great resource for this forum, Jane. Thank you!

Posted by
809 posts

Thanks for the recommendation! I just ordered it from my library and can’t wait for it to come in.

Posted by
3916 posts

I just had to add... I'm about halfway through the book now, and the section I read last night dealt with the mid-morning hours of our walk through Ancient Rome. We visited an elementary school (and learned while there about the higher levels of education,) and then a huge meat market. Favorite take-away: elementary teachers were paid so little that most of them had to work second jobs. That resonates here in Oklahoma, for sure!

And then a horrifying walk through the slave market...

This is one great book. I'm tempted to just toss out my calendar and sit and devour the book at one sitting, but unfortunately, obligations beckon.