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Pompeii: Public and Private Life (Revealing Antiquity) Hardcover – 1 Feb 1999

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Product Description


this readable and intelligent account is all the more remarkable...Paul Zanker remains a terrific teacher of [Pompeii's] lessons, as well as an eloquent narrator of tales of the buried city.

About the Author

Paul Zanker is Professor of Classical Archeology, University of Munich, and Director of the German Archeological Institute in Rome. He is the author of Mask of Socrates: The Image of the Intellectual in Antiquity and The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Zanker on Pompeii 17 Feb. 2001
By "kateyboal" - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is with out a doubt an wonderful souce for students and Pompeii fanatics. As a classist myself, I was enraptured by this book. Zanker is able to intergrate the archaeological evidence with a comperhensive look at the pompeian socity. This is not to be missed!!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Private Houses in Pompeii 18 Mar. 2005
By David A. Wend - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent introduction to Pompeii studies. Paul Zanker expertly describes the beginnings and variations on the private houses in Pompeii; how they were influenced by lavish country villas and how many of the houses were changed to provide an illusion of luxury. The "illusion" comes into play because many of the houses had very limited space and made the best of what they had. Several of the homes, such as the House of the Grand Duke, were not known to me.

Mr. Zanker begins by relating the beginnings of Pompeii as an Oscan city and traces its development through the Social War, when Sulla settled veterans in the city, and into the Augustan period. The latter was arguably the golden age of Pompeii when the emperor took an interest in the city (by having an imperial aqueduct diverted to the city) and was a period of great civic building. The author provides a glimpse into some of the current theories about the city, such as did the wealthy leave Pompeii following the earthquake of 62? This is a theory that could use a chapter on its own and gets a page of discussion here. Another interesting discussion has to do with the reconstruction following the earthquake in 62 CE. Why were buildings like the basilica, and other civic buildings, left in ruins? One possibility is that buildings were rebuilt because there were fraternal groups that needed the use of the buildings (like the worshipers of Isis). Buildings like the amphitheater were repaired but the theaters were not.

So this is a good introduction to the private homes of Pompeii: a book that can be read and followed up by more in depth reading. It is a fascinating look at the public and private sides of the city, illustrated nicely, and well written. Highly recommended.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding 13 Jun. 2010
By krebsman - Published on
Format: Paperback
Paul Zanker's POMPEII PUBLIC AND PRIVATE LIFE is an outstanding work of scholarship presented in a way that is understandable to general reader. Zanker draws heavily on the work of Andrew Wallace-Hadrill. (In fact, if your interest is really passionate, I would recommend reading Wallace-Hadrill's HOUSES AND SOCIETY IN POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM in tandem with this book.) The book basically focuses on the analysis and interpretation of public and private space. I found it extremely edifying and very enjoyable reading, too. Deborah Lucas Schneider's fluid translation does not read like a translation. Several good books on Pompeii have been published in recent years. This is one of the most useful. This covers a lot of the same material as Mary Beard's THE FIRES OF VESUVIUS, but Zanker's approach is far more scholarly and he doesn't intrude his own personality into his work. There are many illustrations and maps, along with sixteen pages of color plates. I highly recommend this book to all serious students of archaeology, ancient history, and architecture.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Pompeiian textbook 10 Aug. 2004
By clwinter - Published on
Format: Paperback
Zander's Pompeii is one of the main textbook books on Pompeii these days. She covers the city from an archaeologist's point of view by discussing the public and private areas of the city and how Pompeiians would have used them. She discusses not only how each of these areas were populated by regular Pompeiians, but also the women's and slaves' roles throughout the city through these private and public areas.

This book is filled with good information for students, teachers and the amateur classicist alike. A must have for anyone interested in Pompeii or ancient Roman culture.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not Entirely Convincing 20 April 2011
By Deified Domitian - Published on
Format: Paperback
Zanker's "Pompeii" is divided into two sections, describing, as one might expect from the title, the underlying philosophies of the city's public and private building activity. Although there's some description of the town's general history, most of the space is devoted to the development of these two theories.

Although strongly argued, neither theory is entirely convincing. The "Public" section discusses the changes in the town's character when the Roman politician Sulla forced it to provide homes for veterans from his army. Zanker states that the previous inhabitants of Pompeii were heavily invested in elegant Greek culture, and the arrival of the soldiers gave it a more brutish, distinctly Roman character. Although other groups of Italians did embrace Greek culture more readily than the Romans, their different heritage meant that their use of Greek ideas would seem different and perhaps crude to actual Greeks. The arrival of the Romans certainly changed things, but it's too much to suggest, as Zanker does, that Pompeii stopped being a center of art and enlightenment upon their arrival.

The "Private" section looks at the Pompeiian upper-middle-class houses that continue to impress tourists with their preserved gardens and wall paintings. Zanker's interpretation of these buildings, which is dwelt upon obsessively, is that the modestly wealthy Romans were using their lesser resources to create miniature copies of aristocrats' luxury mansions (villas). Doubtless this was an interest of the Pomepeians, but the book focuses on the idea to the point where they seem to spend their every waking hour scheming about how to imitate the super-rich. In his coverage of this topic the author comes across as something of a snob; he seems to believe that really good art can only be acquired by the wealthy, and that with a few exceptions attempts of the less wealthy to decorate their homes will demonstrate their inferior tastes.

That said, the book contains a great deal of good information and some excellent illustrations, including a wealth of useful floor plans. Given the author's strong opinions, though, it should be used as one source of information about Pompeii rather than the only one you read.
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