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Orgy Planner Wanted: Odd Jobs and Curious Callings in the Ancient World [Hardcover]

Vicki Leon
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

6 Sep 2007

Two thousand years ago, the denizens of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds performed an amazingly diverse and challenging array of tasks to earn their daily bread. Personal entrail-reader to the emperor; war-elephant troop commander; mopper-up of dead gladiators; armpit-hair plucker; stage actor; orgy planner: these are just a few of the career opportunities that beckoned for our ancient Mediterranean ancestors. In Orgy Planner Wanted author Vicki León describes - in uniquely vivid and energetic style - 144 ancient career options, from the glittering to the gory, and from the strangely familiar to the entirely strange and entirely unfamiliar. Each of the book's ten chapters focuses on a particular professional area - from sex to showbiz, from cookery to slavery and from divination to hairdressing - looking in detail at specific jobs in each category. Sidebar profiles tell the stories of some 30 named jobholders - the likes of Spurrina Vestricius (personal entrail-reader to Julius Caesar), Publius and Lucius Sestius (traders in garum - a pungent fish-based forerunner of Worcestershire sauce), and Paris (a celebrated actor-dancer whose abortive attempts to teach the Emperor Nero to dance would ultimately lead to his demise). Orgy Planner Wanted offers a unique perspective on the world as it was 2000 years ago, and looks certain to be one of the most intriguing and unputdownable popular history titles of 2007.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (6 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847240968
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847240965
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 15.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 668,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Vicki León is a travel writer, publisher, historian and author of the successful Uppity Women in History series. She has nurtured a lifelong passion for the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean, and when she is not on the road researching new books, she divides her time between Washington and California, USA.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Foreign jobs Foreign language 18 Mar 2008
Disappointing.I appreciate that it is difficult to find the strange jobs of cultures 2000 years ago but many (1/2) of these in her book are not only still recognisable and on going they still only pay a pittance.However may main problem is that too much is written in a foreign language.It may be difficult to believe but not all of us speak American!!!!!!!!!!!. Gasp!.You can decipher the meaning in context but in an English edition book I would have liked it to be Anglicised.Despite that as I like trivia it is welcome in my collection.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Lighthearted Look at Ancient Jobs 3 Mar 2011
By David A. Wend - Published on Amazon.com
Orgy Planner Wanted is intended for a wide readership and would probably appeal more to a non-specialist. The jobs and careers are grouped under like chapters dealing with slaves, law and soldiers, glamorous and unsavory occupations. Vicki Leon's writing tends toward humor rather than adopting a serious attitude toward the occupations. For example, "Vestal Virgin: You Too Could Become a Maximum Virgin." Thirty of the professions are based on real people while the others relate the facts with an occasional reference to a person.

There is some very good information about the professions. The section about Dioscorides and how he discovered a red dye made from small bugs called kermes. The entry also mentions Dioscodrides' medical book that describes the use of the ephedra plant that was forgotten until rediscovered in the twentieth century.

The historical information tends to be glossed over for the more salacious information. For example, the author relates that the empress Julia Domna was driven to suicide by the rivalry between her sons, Caracalla and Geta, when she actually ended her life when Caracalla was assassinated and Geta had long since been murdered. Ms. Leon also referred to the emperor Gaius (Caligula) making his horse Incitatus a senator when he actually only threatened to do it in order to insult the Senate as a bunch of sycophants. Elsewhere, Ms. Leon suggests that the empress Messalina, the wife of Claudius, was executed because she married a fellow orgy attendee. In fact, there was a far more serious conspiracy against Claudius. For some, this may be nitpicking but there are several instances in the book where historical details are necessary to explain why instead of suggesting the more outrageous conclusion.

The book has a short bibliography but there are no notes. There were several times when I was wishing the source of some information were listed. Overall, Orgy Planner Wanted has some interesting information but the focus is for a more general reader. For someone who is a serious student of the ancient world I would recommend As the Romans Did: A Source Book by Jo Ann Shelton.
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