Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town

Author(s): Mary Beard

History

Pompeii explodes a number of myths - from the very date of the eruption, probably a few months later than usually thought; the hygiene of the baths which must have been hotbeds of germs; and the legendary number of brothels, most likely only one, to the massive death count which was probably less than ten per cent of the population. Street Life, Earning a Living: Baker, Banker and Garum Maker (who ran the city), The Pleasure of the Body: Food, Wine, Sex and Baths, these chapter headings give a surprising insight into the workings of a Roman town. At the Suburban Baths we go from communal bathing to hygiene to erotica. A fast-food joint on the Via dell' Abbondanza introduces food and drink and diets and street life. These are just a few of the strands that make up an extraordinary and involving portrait of an ancient town, its life and its continuing re-discovery, by Britain's leading classicist.

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'Much of what you think you know about Pompeii may turn out, on reading this eye-opening book, to be wrong. The town was not full of brothels (Beard counts only one), its water engineering, pace the novelist Robert Harris, was pretty substandard (there may have been aqueducts, but there were no sewers) and the site didn't lie undisturbed until the eighteenth century (many townspeople, for instance, came back soon afterwards to dig up their valuables). Beard, a professor of classics at Cambridge, always wears her learning lightly, and in this outstanding book she has excelled herself, puncturing preconceptions and exposing a whole layer of myth about the world's best-preserved ancient town. The result is an often gripping piece of detective work that also offers a tantalising window into the reality of daily Roman life.' The Sunday Times History books of the year, Andrew Holgate

"'Much of what you think you know about Pompeii may turn out, on reading this eye-opening book, to be wrong. Beard, a professor of classics at Cambridge, always wears her learning lightly, and in this outstanding book she has excelled herself, puncturing preconceptions and exposing a whole layer of myth about the world's best-preserved ancient town. The result is an often gripping piece of detective work that also offers a tantalising window into the reality of daily Roman life.' The Sunday Times History Books of the Year - Andrew Holgate * 'A learned and fascinating book'- Guardian * 'In this brilliant portrait of the "life in a Roman town", Mary Beard uses the relics buried by the eruption on AD79 to bring everyday Roman culture alive'- Sunday Times * 'Compelling' - Independent"

Mary Beard is a Professor of Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge. Her books include The Parthenon and The Colosseum (with Keith Hopkins), and the recent The Roman Triumph. She lives in Cambridge.

General Fields

  • : 9781861975966
  • : Profile Books Ltd
  • : Profile Books Ltd
  • : July 2009
  • : 198mm X 129mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Mary Beard
  • : Paperback
  • : 1
  • : English
  • : 937.7
  • : 416
  • : Illustrations