Natalie's Reviews > Pompeii

Pompeii by Mary Beard
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's review
Aug 15, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: read-2011

Mary Beard has just jumped to the top of my list of favorite non-fiction writers.

I bought this book at the Marine Gate of Pompeii, after I'd spent an entire day roaming around the city on a sweltering August day. I really wish I'd read this before I stepped foot into the city, however, because Beard brings Pompeii and its people to life, analyzing everything from the graffiti on the walls to the colors of paints of the frescoes and more. Furthermore, Beard managed to answer a lot of the questions I'd been forming as I wandered around the ruins: what were those marble countertops, were they bars or kitchen workspaces? Why was the dog found in the position it was in when most of the human corpses looked (relatively speaking, of course) more peaceful? What significance did the phallic symbols all over the town have?

Even when Beard cannot answer some of her own questions, she brings to light various possibilities and remains objective as she analyzes others' theories against her own.

As soon as I shut this book, I wanted to pack up my belongings and revisit the town. I could almost hear the laughter echoing into the Via dell'Abbondanza. This book really is that illuminating.

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