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The Colosseum (Wonders of the World)

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  147 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Read the Bldg Blog interview with Mary Beard about the Wonders of the World series(Part I and Part II)

Byron and Hitler were equally entranced by Rome's most famous monument, the Colosseum. Mid-Victorians admired the hundreds of varieties of flowers in its crannies and occasionally shuddered at its reputation for contagion, danger, and sexual temptation. Today it is the hig
Paperback, 214 pages
Published May 31st 2011 by Harvard University Press (first published February 24th 2005)
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Sep 03, 2012 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book isn't quite as exhaustive as Mary Beard's book on Pompeii, but it's very good. It discusses both the popular myths about the Colosseum and the truths, if any, behind them. It's also nice that Mary Beard and Keith Hopkins recognise that they could be wrong, and that future archaelogy could show them to be as wrong as the people whose comments and theories they disparage.

It's well written and interesting, including notes and further reading. They seem, for my memories of Rome, to be a pr
Jun 03, 2008 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: local afficionados
Full of great anectdotes and research, this book is perfect for the rare individual who is ready to look at the Colosseum academically. Without even going out of its way it makes clear that most of what you think you know about this wonder of the world is actually not true. It is a bit of a mythbuster, and convincingly done, a storyline of this monument's biography does emerge more clearly than the fable-ized version allows possible.
Well I swithered and dithered about reading this DURING A219 and how I wish I had: pg 53 discusses Symmachus [of the mosaic in the exam] and how he write letters about putting on gladiatorial shows to celebrate his son's praetorship.....:-0 Anyhoo, I really enjoyed this short chunter through the life of the Colosseum from 80AD to now. Less idiosyncratic and more useful than the volume on the Roman Forum in the same series.
Zachary Taylor
Nov 20, 2015 Zachary Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
The eleventh century equivalent to the modern Blue Guide, a travel book titled The Wonders of Rome, instructed medieval tourists on the function and identity of the Colosseum with spectacular confidence. It was “the temple of the Sun . . . disposed with many diverse vaulted chambers,” and in the middle of what we now know was the arena a colossal statue of Jupiter or Apollo was said to have once towered over the massive structure. Another medieval theory postulated that the amphitheater was actu ...more
False Millennium
A small book with a very interesting analysis of The Colosseum: It's history, it's true role in Rome, myths, religious connections, it's decline, it's role now in modern history, etc. A librarian friend, a trained classicist, told me about the author, Mary Beard, and I have fallen in love with her. When you can make ancient Rome come to life and with wit and wry asides, you've sold me. I'll probably wind up buying this slim volume, and I know I'll be re-reading Henry James' "Daisy Miller" just f ...more
Jason Golomb
This is the perfect overview of one of the most iconic buildings in the world. Mary Beard, renowned for her accessible and insightful views on world history, collaborated with Keith Hopkins to create an erudite but very readable history of a building that simply took my breath away the first time I saw it live a few years ago.

The Colosseum was recently named one of the 7 NEW Wonders of the World. It’s eye-catching and iconic series of white stone arches, uniformly built into multilayered tiers
Though good, this book is not what I expected it to be when I bought it last summer in the very book and souvenir shop mentioned on its final page. Being a former student of ancient history (particularly imperial Rome), I was already familiar with the authors. I therefore expected something more along the lines of historical science, instead of the popular science it is. That is not to say that I didn't enjoy it. It's a fascinating and clearly intelligent and knowledgable stroll through the Colo ...more
Jul 17, 2015 icaro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all
Se non ci fosse già nel titolo bisognerebbe fare un "monumento" agli autori. Come parlare di storia senza perdere di vista nè il rigore nè l'intrattenimento.
La prossima volta che andrete a Roma non lasciate a casa questo libro, sarebbe un peccato
Dec 29, 2014 Philip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book like only British historians can write ... wonderfully concise, lucid and complete description of the history and context of what is probably the most iconic building remaining from the Roman Empire.
Highly entertaining history of the building. It also includes some interesting facts about the flora found in the ruins. There is a rather interesting discussion about gladiators. In many ways, the book works as a debunking of myths.
Aug 13, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient-rome
While the authors have interesting points it feels as if they try to cover too much in too little space. Many things I would have liked to have been elaborated on were only mentioned in passing in one sentence, while other things that didnt seem as interesting were discussed at times for pages. This obviously is rather opinion based but this book is merely ok, nothing great but not horrible either.
Mar 21, 2012 Elise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked up this book while on a trip to Italy in April/May 2011. It's a pretty interesting book about the Colosseum and what it became and represented over the years. It also debunks some myths about the history of the structure. It's interesting that the quotes on the cover refer to this book as being funny, but I didn't find it all that funny, yet intriguing.
Though gladiatorial shows certainly happened in Colosseum, we know less about the details than one would think. Present building is in poor repair, hampering investigations of its use. Also, previous repairs & reconstructions ironically get in the way of interpreting its purpose.
Broke some of the myth, i loved the graffiti and shows that there is a lot of christian propaganda as the numbers of Christians as well as the exotic menagerie needed was quite outrageously expensive and logistically mind boggling especially considering we are talking 80 AD - 523 .
Gaetano Amato
Dec 18, 2011 Gaetano Amato rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read about a building that is taken for granted. Very easy to read and I look forward to reading other other books in the series - The Parthenon (Mary Beard) and The Temple of Jersulalem (Simon Goldhill).
Tim Baldini
Aug 28, 2013 Tim Baldini rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Impressive work on the much admired structure. Debunks many of the rumours and myth surrounding it's history and legacy. A must read for those interested in the Colosseum!
Mar 18, 2011 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Impressive short history of Colosseum through history. I gave it a 4th star because I admire the authors' ability to be comprehensive in such a short book (less than 200 pages).
The Emperor Vespasian's restoration of imperial order:
Brendan Howard
Mar 23, 2011 Brendan Howard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another marvelous book by Mary Beard, this time as co-author and finisher of a work begun with her now-deceased colleague, Keith Hopkins.

May 20, 2011 Ann is currently reading it
amazing book that reads more like a travel essay than a history book. Amazing graphics, fits in your pocket.
Daniel Mcintyre
Oct 25, 2013 Daniel Mcintyre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hugely interesting. Great overview
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Morris Keith Hopkins was a British historian and sociologist. He was professor of ancient history at the University of Cambridge from 1985 to 2000.
Hopkins had a relatively unconventional route to the Cambridge professorship. After Brentwood School, he graduated in classics at King's College, Cambridge in 1958. He spent time as a graduate student, much influenced by Moses Finley, but left before co
More about Keith Hopkins...

Other Books in the Series

Wonders of the World (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • The Alhambra
  • Westminster Abbey
  • The Temple of Jerusalem
  • The Tomb of Agamemnon
  • The Rosetta Stone and the Rebirth of Ancient Egypt (Wonders of the World)
  • St Peter's (Wonders Of The World)
  • The Forbidden City (Wonders of the World)
  • Taj Mahal
  • Stonehenge
  • Piazza San Marco

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