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Daily Life in Ancient Rome: The People and the City at the Height of the Empire

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  312 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
In this portrait of life in Ancient Rome, the author begins by painting a backcloth on which the social, political, cultural and religious aspects of the community are drawn. He enlarges on the details of everyday life, following the typical routine of a normal day from dawn to dinner and the talk that continued long into the night. This study, which includes a bibliograph ...more
Published June 27th 1991 by Penguin (first published 1936)
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Erik Graff
Jun 05, 2016 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ancient Rome fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
I picked this one up at my favorite resale shop in San Francisco, carrying it back to Chicago to read, the only book purchased there held on to. The rest were given away to various hosts.

Although translated from the French and although old, dating from 1940, Carcopino's reconstruction of late Republican and early Imperial Rome reads well, evincing excellent work by translator Lorimer. Some of the data derives from archaeology, most from classical sources. From this the author gives his take on d
A vivid, enthusiastic presentation of the subject matter with a tone of intimacy and familiarity - a refreshing change from the sometimes alienating, overly "objective" approach of much contemporary work. The introduction by Mary Beard is also invaluable in contextualising Carcopino's work. Nonetheless, the book is dated, and Carcopino's clear vision and expressive writing on the Romans is clouded by theoretical and methodological flaws of the time.

Despite its merits, it also unfortunately suffe
Rather interesting stuff. But holy hell, the author either hated the Romans, himself or the rest of the world. I don't know; I'm not a psychologist. This could have been a really great book, but instead I kept thinking, "Why would he spend so much time with something he obviously hates?" Rather distracting, and it ruins the book.
Joe Kelleher
Eating habits, education, hygiene, concept of time, social hierarchy, sleeping arrangements, traffic, leisure. Very detailed. Sometimes too detailed. Probably would rate this four stars if the edition were better edited. I haven't read anything else on the subject so I don't know how the author's theories hold up today.
Daniel Gonçalves
An amazingly detailed account of what it was like to be alive during the zenith of the roman empire. The author describes the lifestyle of a roman citizen in an entertaining and informative way. A book targeted to people who enjoy history, and who show ravenous apetite for genral knowledge.
Samantha Greenya
While the author completely exhausts his subject in an interesting way, the reader is often confused by conflicting statements mainly pertaining to different time periods. For example, the author states that women had much freedom and will then claim that they did not have much freedom. While this is eventually explained at the end of the chapter/section, it makes fully understand the text difficult.
Because the author wrote this story by subject and not by time period, it is sometimes hard to un
Aiden O'Reilly
Apr 08, 2013 Aiden O'Reilly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Original and best. It's an unsettling experience to read this book.

It is impossible to look at the Roman world in the same manner as one might look at Viking society, or at the Incas. The modern person will maybe disapprove of the Viking adulation of violence, or human sacrifice, etc. But nobody feels a sense of outrage at their moral failings.

But with the Romans an extra level of disgust comes into play. They were steeped in hypocrisy. They are too close (yet far in time) to coolly regard as ob
Feb 17, 2015 N3er4 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
La vita quotidiana a Roma è un saggio storico che prendendo in esame la Roma imperiale del II secolo d.C. analizza ogni aspetto della vita nell'antichità in questa città, facendo anche confronti tra l'età regia, quella repubblicana e quella appunto imperiale. Il saggio è ovviamente interessante e bello perché è il primo prodotto completo ed adatto al grande pubblico per conoscere bene ogni aspetto dell'esistenza degli antichi romani. Il contro però è che ormai il saggio è datato (la prima versio ...more
Not the best, but not the worst.

On the upside: very good sleep remedy The author quotes extensively (though mostly from the more readable sources), and a number of his own descriptions are full of life. Iit was enlightening to read about more or less ordinary roman life and quite a number of questions one asks when one sees ancient ruins (like ‘what was here?’, ‘why did they need so many Forums?’, etc.) were answered.

On the downside: Language confused me quite a bit. It tends to be rather flow
Alexander Kennedy
Dec 08, 2014 Alexander Kennedy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rome
This is a very good book for learning about what life was like in the city of ancient Rome towards the end of the first century AD. The book covers topics streets, houses, slavery, living conditions for the poor as well as the rich, the growing freedom of women, some professions, a typical dinner party, entertainment, clothing, the problems with education, and the weakening sense of religiosity. The book was well written and provided a lot of intricate detail. I would have liked a greater discus ...more
Apr 17, 2011 nettebuecherkiste rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book during my visit to the Forum in Rome last year. I love history, but I have always been more interested in the daily lifes of the people than in the dates of this or that battle. And I wasn't disappointed by this book. It explains the various aspects of a Roman's life in the days of the early emperors, from the housing situation over social classes, the family, education to entertainment. Sometimes, the author elaborates too much on a topic for my taste, for example when calcul ...more
Dec 28, 2012 Abby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: two-star
It's a fairly entertaining book, though for all the wrong reasons. Carcopino makes sweeping declarations about things that don't seem to be supported, and has fairly quaint ideas - that Roman women stayed indoors and idle because they chose to do so, for example. His analysis of Roman religion is outdated. But the prose is that mid-century sort of magisterial tone, even when he's probably wrong, and so it was at least worth reading.

Nov 08, 2014 Francis rated it liked it
A dense and informative book: perfect for research. From the drawbacks and virtues of Ancient Roman housing, to its class systems and patronage traditions, this book will tell you much about the cultural life of Ancient Rome.

Unfortunately, the prose which its been written in is also rather dry. Pour yourself a gallon of caffeine before wading through this bad boy: otherwise you're going to be taking an impromptu nap.
Cassandra Brecht
This was written when far less was known about his topic, so I'm looking forward to reading the updated version. I found it disconcerting that he used literary characters and the things that they did as evidence for actual occurrences in Roman life, such as Trimalchio's excesses. In fact, he didn't seem to realize that Trimalchio and others actually were literary figures and not real people.
Manuela Bernardotto-ethridge
Even though Daily Life in Ancient Rome was first published in English in 1940, it is still a valuable tool both for researchers and enthusiasts. Carcopino managed to unite into a single monograph the object of study of multiple disciplines and to amalgamate them into a compelling and vivid narrative.
Ariyati Lestari
when reading the book I felt like something blast me to the past.. being among the crowd of senates in the forum.. flying through Palatine hill to enjoy the panoramic, feels like doing spionage to see how Roman people was in the past.

It is very detail and hope to see a documenter film based on this book.
The letters type is small and too packed with words in a page.
Mar 18, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book made me want to watch the series Rome. Said to have influenced the stylings of that series and the film Gladiator, this book is a great look at the Roman area circa 100A.D. considered the golden years. Or more like before Constantine ruined it by declaring Christianity the national religion. I've seen Gladiator many times so now wouldn't mind how Rome portrays the same time period.
Mar 18, 2015 Courtney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is intellectual in nature; those looking for a quick, entertaining read seem to discount the text for its in-depth and specific qualities. However, if you either understand the many references to Roman leaders and Gods, or Latin, or simply take the time to research further the points proposed by Carcopino, you will find the book supremely informative and an overall great read.
Sep 10, 2014 Lorenzo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ha rispettato in pieno le mie aspettative: una descrizione di ampio respiro ed interessante dello stile di vita dell'epoca. Usanze, circostanze, contesto. Unico difetto lo stile, veramente didascalico.
Hannah Thomas
Nov 28, 2011 Hannah Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It does take some time to read through this book. It's very through about the history of how Romans lived their lives in the past. I would highly recommend it to those who are very intersted into history type reading.
Jan 03, 2014 Florenceg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: histoire
Un classique : le style est beaucoup trop littéraire à mon goût. Les faits historiques sont étudiés dans le détail et sont intéressants mais on pourrait aller à l'essentiel sans se perdre dans des phrases alambiquées et parfois subjectives. Cela reste un livre très complet, mais un peu ancien.
Oct 07, 2011 Elisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Usually history books are not particularly funny, but this one, as it deals with the daily side of Romans, has some very funny parts. For that reason, in spite of the fact that it's a consistent book, it's fairly easy to read.
Dec 29, 2007 Stephen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is interesting as the first "popular" book on daily life in rome. Unfortunately it is tainted by the author's biases towards the ideology of Mussolini and the fascists. Interesting for those interested in this book as literature rather than as a book about rome.
Jun 14, 2014 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dry, dated, but so filled with research and information that it the former two are almost forgivable. If you want an academic, in-depth account of Roman life, this is great. Otherwise, look for something lighter.
Jan 29, 2009 Tamar rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
mostly painful to read - especially the education chapter - couldn't tell if the author was trying to parody Roman rhetoric or imitate it sincerely. The image you get of the Romans from this book is that they were cruel and crass. Contrast with Daily Life in Ancient Greece.
Chet Duke
Really cool book for students of ancient history, philosophy, biblical studies, etc. I also recommend Albert Bell's book "Exploring the World of the New Testament." Both books compliment each other and fill in gaps that the other might leave out.
May 01, 2010 Bap rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy
Rome at the time of Augustus. Dirty, crowded,with 300,000 unemployed or marginally employed who are provided bread and circuses. Half the year was devoted to holidays, celebrations,and festivals. This was not a hard working group.
Elementary Particle
Jan 09, 2011 Elementary Particle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, history
Usually history books are not particularly funny, but this one, as it deals with the daily side of Romans, has some very funny parts. For that reason, in spite of the fact that it's a consistent book, it's fairly easy to read.
Mark Singer
Feb 07, 2011 Mark Singer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Roman history
Detailed yet very readable look at how Romans lived during the peak period of empire from the mid first until the late second century A. D.
Sep 30, 2011 Melanie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy
Too academic for me. Did not finish.
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