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Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome Paperback – 1 Jul 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (1 July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195123328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195123326
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 3.6 x 18.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 179,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

This beautifully produced book is a marvelous encyclopedia of Roman life....An unusual and intriguing reference book. (The Good Book Guide)

From the Author

This book was first published in the United States in hardback by Facts On File, with the paperback also being published in the United States. The paperback publisher (Oxford University Press) has therefore retained the American spelling (theater, worshiped, plow and so on). Apart from having a wonderful cover design, the Oxford University Press volume is also extremely good value for money. We intended this book to be a reference work primarily for students, as so much time can be wasted looking up specific facts rather than understanding the ancient Roman world as a whole. The hardback publishers came up with the title 'Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome', which we think is a bit misleading, because the book actually covers the entire Roman world, from naval battles to single artefacts.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Erick Vergara on 23 May 2003
Format: Paperback
No student of Roman history should be without this exceptional volume on his shelf. "Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome" is a worthy -- in fact, necessary -- investment for every serious classics enthusiast and all-around ancient civilisation buff.
Combining nearly four hundred pages of concise, jargon-free text with a vast selection of illustrations -- including maps, plans, line drawings and black-and-white photographs -- the Handbook provides a comprehensive introduction for almost every aspect of Roman life, covering such fields as politics and religion in broad strokes without sacrificing detail.
Despite its relatively small size, the Handbook could prove a lot more practical for everyday reference purposes than such heavyweights. It has just about everything a history enthusiast will ever require (or never even thought he'd need): information on the origin and deployment of several dozen legions, cross-section diagrams of Roman glassware, etc. Although serious classical scholars should not limit themselves to this book when doing research, the extensive bibliographies accompanying each major subdivision will help direct them to more detailed sources. And if the situation does not call for exhaustive articles on the lives of Roman luminaries like Caesar or Suetonius, the brief biographical essays included in the Handbook may go a long way towards helping Colleen McCullough and Steven Saylor fans navigate their way through the chaotic mess of names that one so often finds in historical fiction.
All things considered, the Handbook is worth every penny on its price tag.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By F. Aetius on 3 Aug 2008
Format: Paperback
If you have an interest in Ancient Rome or if you're a classics student then this book is an absolute essential purchase. It is bursting with facts about all aspects of Roman culture, society and history. I doubt that there is any other single book on Rome that has such a wide range of useful information within it. It is also worth noting that this is also filled with the type of information you could only previously purchase with obscure and very expensive scholarly tomes.

The book is accessible, readable and intelligently edited. It is divided into topical sections, and these are then made up of chapters. Examples of these topic sections include: Republic and Empire; Military Affairs; Geography of the Roman World; Towns and Countryside; Travel and Trade; Written Evidence; Religion; Economy and Industry; and Everyday Life. Within these sections are chapters on various subjects, for instance on religion we have chapters on festivals, atheism, religious buildings and magic, while in the evedyday life section we have chapters on family, slaves, art and population. These are just a few examples of what those sections hold - the actual book has a far larger number of chapters. The authors have also included a useful bibliography at the end of each section, so that you can search for relevant books if you are interested in pursuing the subject further.

The book is also notable for its large number of maps, diagrams, photographs, line drawings, and charts. These sections help give you a better understanding of the period.

The sheer amount of information contained within this book is breathtaking. It's got plenty of information on subjects such as the Roman army, the emperors, gladiators, and other famous topics.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steiner on 21 May 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent one volume general reference on Ancient Rome. The book contains a wealth of information about topics such as politics, religion, town-planning, construction, warfare, everyday life, and so on.

Lavishly illustrated with photographs, maps, diagrams, plans, and a large amount of useful lists, including place-name gazetteers, dates of festivals, provinces, legions, famous Romans, Gods, and much more.

Please note that (for this book) the Roman world ends in the 5th century AD. There is no continuation into the later periods of the eastern empire.

This is a great book - but for all it's quality it's massively overpriced for the excellent hardback edition.
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By APG on 11 Dec 2009
Format: Paperback
I have purchased this book as a gift to go with a Roman artefact, the book covers the basics very well giving a good grounding for deeper reading on any apsect that takes ones interest.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
59 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Excellent reference 22 Jun 2000
By Stephen M. Bainbridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Anyone serious about Roman history ought to own this book. Be warned...it is not a narrative text. Don't expect to linger over it at a coffee shop. Instead, it is more in the nature of an encyclopedia. Organized thematically, there are 9 chapters covering all aspects of Roman life: A brief historical overview; military affairs; geography; town life; trade; language; religion; economy; everyday life. Within each chapter one finds a series of short essays, numerous very helpful illustrations and maps, chronologies, and the like. I have been reading a lot of Roman law lately, as well as history of the early church, and have kept this handbook by my side. It has answered almost every question my reading raised about Rome. If it has any failing, it is that it covers only the historical period up to the fall of the Western Empire. Information about the later Eastern Empire is sparse, at best. Having said that, it is highly recommended.
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Informative one-volume encyclopedia of Rome 26 July 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One of the first things the serious student of Roman history learns is how complicated the subject is. The neat, orderly account in the freshman history text quickly proves to be misleading (while at the same time a testimony to the painstaking efforts of scholars). When the minutiae become overwhelming, and you have trouble relating or remembering all the parts, that's a good time to refer to this handbook--whether you need to know something basic, like who was emperor in 192 or what the offices were in the cursus honorum, or want to know something more specialized, like which legions Caesar commanded. Its articles have the right balance of detail and brevity to make them useful for both beginning and advanced students.
The authors, being archaeologists, devote a lot of space to material culture. Students should appreciate this; classroom study of ancient Rome usually emphasizes literary monuments, and it's the things, the "stuff," the common objects of daily life, which by their sheer ordinariness are least likely to be described by authors. Unfortunately, this does mean that certain other topics are given short shrift. There is virtually no material on Roman law--its content, its development, and its institutions--unless you're content with a few paragraphs and references. There's a great section on arms and armor, but almost nothing on the specific rights of citizenship.
The perfect guide to ancient Rome probably hasn't been written yet, but until it appears, I'm using this one and do give it my recommendation. Great for filling in the background of your picture of Roman life.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Extremely useful and concise 13 May 2001
By Alexander R. Bourgeois - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Overall a very handy book that should have a place in every classicists library, or anyone who has even a slight interest in ancient Rome for that matter. Only a few complaints. One may come across minor errors and contradictions, for example: At one point it says that the historian Tacitus was the father-in-law of Agricola, but later in the book corrects itself and says that Agricola was the father-in-law. On page 122 on the map of Egypt the Nile river is missing (a rather significant omission that should have been caught). Bio's of the emperors are extremely brief, so buy a copy of Michael Grant's The Roman Emperors. But then again the purpose of this book seems to be to touch on as many subjects as possible in a limited space. The section on abbreviations is particularly useful. Overall, very much worth its price.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
All the essential information in one handy volume. 27 May 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In one volume, the authors, expert archeologists, have given a comprehensive view into Roman life of the monarchy, republic, and empire (c. 753 BC - 565 AD) to provide a wealth of easy-to-access information which might require many other works to encompass.
Organized thematically into areas such governmental and social structure, military affairs, trade and travel, religion, and aspects of everyday life, the information is further subdivided into brief essays and enhanced with photos, sketches, good maps, and much essential information arranged in convenient tables and diagrams.
The work is well conceived, very competently produced, and is highly recommended for students or anyone else interested in the everyday life of the Romans.
(The "score" rating is an ineradicable feature of the page. This reviewer does not "score" books.)
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Unparalleled! 26 April 2002
By Erick Franz P. Vergara - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
No student of Roman history should be without this exceptional volume on his shelf. "Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome" is a worthy -- in fact, necessary -- investment for every serious classics enthusiast and all-around ancient civilisation buff.
Combining nearly four hundred pages of concise, jargon-free text with a vast selection of illustrations -- including maps, plans, line drawings and black-and-white photographs -- the Handbook provides a comprehensive introduction for almost every aspect of Roman life, covering such fields as politics and religion in broad strokes without sacrificing detail. Need a quick conversion from Roman measures to metric equivalents? The tables on pages 313-314 will take care of that for you. Want to find out the modern name for Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium? A list on page 124 will tell you that it's now referred to as Cologne.
Despite its relatively small size (404 regularly-numbered pages, index included), the Handbook could prove a lot more practical for everyday reference purposes than such heavyweights as the 1640-page "Oxford Classical Dictionary". It has just about everything a history enthusiast will ever require (or never even thought he'd need): detailed lists of gods and goddesses (including minor ones), information on the origin and deployment of several dozen legions, cross-section diagrams of Roman glassware, etc. Although serious classical scholars should not limit themselves to this book when doing research, the extensive bibliographies accompanying each major subdivision will help direct them to more detailed sources. And if the situation does not call for exhaustive articles on the lives of Roman luminaries like Caesar or Suetonius, the brief biographical essays included in the Handbook may go a long way towards helping Colleen McCullough and Steven Saylor fans navigate their way through the chaotic mess of names that one so often finds in historical fiction.
All things considered, the Handbook is worth every penny on its price tag.
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