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Il Colosseo. La storia e il mito (Wonders of the World)

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  184 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
This is the story of Rome's greatest arena - how it was built, the gladiatorial and other games that were held there, the training of the gladiators, the audiences who revelled in the games, the emperors who staged them and the critics, and the strange after-life.
245 pages
Published 2006 by GLF editori Laterza (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
Feb 29, 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.
Aug 08, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient
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.
Zachary Taylor
Oct 22, 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
Jun 19, 2017 Louise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I got this book after visiting the colosseum because I wanted to know even more than I had found out whilst on my tour and this book didn't give me that. Maybe I'm just curious to know things that historians dont know.
I think If you read this before you visit or if you don't get a guided tour of the colosseum this book would give you some information
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
Oct 10, 2016 Caro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: malta-and-rome
Concise, informative and lively. How many gladiators really fought in the Colosseum? Were early Christians actually martyred there? And what about the craze for visiting it by moonlight? Well done.
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
Simon Binning
Jul 06, 2016 Simon Binning rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman-history
This is a very clear and concise history of the building we call the Colosseum (although the Romans never called it that). From its original construction, what actually went on there, and what happened to it in the 1500 years or so since it fell into disuse. It's a familiar story - principally of what we don't know; we don't really know how the building worked, or how the entertainment was arranged, but the authors have done the most they can with the information available, freely admitting that ...more
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
May 06, 2011 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.
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.
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 .
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.
Gaetano Amato
Dec 17, 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).
A volte interessante a volte meno. Infastidisce a tratti l'arroganza intellettuale di voler per forza contraddire tutto quello che e' stato detto del Colosseo, anche quando i fatti riportati giustificano poco tanta dissacrazione. Vale la pena per gli appassionati dell'antica Roma.
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.
Jul 17, 2015 icaro rated it really liked it
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
May 20, 2011 Ann is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
amazing book that reads more like a travel essay than a history book. Amazing graphics, fits in your pocket.
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).
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!
Brendan Howard
Mar 20, 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.

Daniel Mcintyre
Oct 25, 2013 Daniel Mcintyre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hugely interesting. Great overview
Donald Schopflocher
Excellent introduction, especially if a first trip to Rome is in your short term future or past. I appreciated the scope of coverage as well as the careful skepticism of the authors.
The Emperor Vespasian's restoration of imperial order:
Martin Empson
Martin Empson rated it really liked it
Jan 14, 2010
Kat Strand
Kat Strand rated it it was amazing
Jan 19, 2016
Jeanne rated it liked it
May 18, 2014
Graham Eccles
Graham Eccles rated it did not like it
Dec 15, 2015
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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)
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  • The Temple of Jerusalem
  • The Tomb of Agamemnon
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