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The Colosseum by [Hopkins, Keith, Beard, Mary]
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The Colosseum Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Length: 228 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Review

Racy and occasionally confrontational...This book revels in the accretions of detail and myth. The improbable animal fights; the unfeasibility of flooding the arena to stage mock sea-battles; the claims of Christianity to the place, with a crucifix and 200 days' indulgence accruing in memory of the early Christians who (probably) didn't get torn to pieces by the lions who (probably) weren't there in the first place; the thunder of footsteps on the wooden floor, deafening those in the undercroft with its winches and ramps and the stink and racket of animals and fighting men; the heat in the arena despite the probable shade offered by great cantilevered canvas awnings: first-class scholarship and an engagingly demotic style bring all this into sharp focus.--Michael Bywater"The Independent" (03/25/2005)

The book covers a wide variety of topics, including--to give but a few examples--the life of a gladiator, which was distinctly unglamorous, the exclusion of women from vast areas of the auditorium, the means by which wild animals were brought to Rome, the duration of the 'shows' (123 days for a Trajan bloodbath, according to one observer), the splendid flora (420 species in 1855, although now diminished by weedkiller), and practical tips for any visitor. The book is a great read.--John McBratney"Irish Times" (03/12/2005)

Keith Hopkins and Mary Beard, eminent classical historians, have written a superb new cultural history of the Colosseum. As well as documenting the variety of flowers that once grew wild among the ruins, they offer pithy and occasionally hilarious accounts of the three million tourists who descend on the monument each year.--Ian Thomson"Evening Standard" (03/07/2005)

It is a work of scholarship written with the general reader in mind. The scholarship is worn lightly, and the book is a pleasure to read. It sums up all that is known, and makes it clear that much must remain conjectural. Anyone visiting Rome and making the obligatory sightseeing tour of the Colosseum will do well to read it in advance and keep it to hand; enjoyment will be much enhanced.--Allan Massie"The Spectator" (03/19/2005)

A fascinating account for the Rome-bound traveler as well as the fan of European history.--George Cohen"Booklist" (10/01/2005)

[Hopkins and Beard] succeed remarkably in dispelling many of the myths surrounding the Colosseum...Lively writing brings the Colosseum and its denizens to life in great detail.--Rita Simmons"Library Journal" (08/01/2005)

A lure for travelers since the days of the Grand Tours, this majestic ruin in Rome was, of course, the scene of murderous spectacles in ancient times. The writers, a pair of British academics, recount the origin of the Colosseum on the site of a private lake in Nero's palace, reveal how it was built and operated and draw on archaeology and classical writings to detail the lives of the gladiators. The magnificent, crumbling building still holds pride of place in the Eternal City, and this book provides a readable and informed introduction.--David Armstrong"San Francisco Chronicle" (10/13/2005)

It has been, and continues to be, the object of myth as well as the defining symbol of ancient Rome; a romantic ruin to ongoing popular tourist attraction. Filmmakers, too, from Cecil B. DeMille to Ridley Scott, have used it for their own creative impulses. Although work on the building started in AD 72, it did not officially open until AD 80. Authors and classical historians Keith Hopkins and Mary Beard explain how it was built--and at what cost.--June Sawyers"Chicago Tribune" (01/15/2006)

This architectural icon of the classical world probably has been the subject of more myths and half-truths than any other building surviving from antiquity...This slim book, which would fit into a pocketbook or a knapsack, would make a worthy travel companion for anyone visiting Rome because it sheds so much light on "what is likely to seem at best a confusing mass of masonry, at worst a jumble of dilapidated stone and rubble."--Spencer Rumsey"Newsday" (02/26/2006)

In her concise portrait Beard shines a torch into the dark recesses of the building's long history and illuminates a gladiator here, a fresco there, a medieval bullfight there...Here there is a sophisticated interpretation of the Colosseum's meaning and a survey of nineteenth- and twentieth-century responses to the Colosseum, with quotations from Byron, Mark Twain, Henry James and Hitler.--Debra Aaronson Lawless"New England Classical Journal" (01/01/2006)

Gives a sprightly, entertaining account of this archetypal building in all its various incarnations, from the "killing fields" of antiquity to the pilgrim's goal of the sixteenth century, the botanist's paradise of the nineteenth, and the archaeologist's puzzle of today--four different construction crews worked on separate quarters of the building, with conspicuously differing results.--Ingrid Rowland"New York Review of Books" (10/11/2007)

A wonderful book, worthy of its subject: horrifying, impressive, blood-soaked, occasionally very funny and always entertaining.--Robert Harris

Stripped of so much of its outer shell, the Colosseum reveals the extraordinary ingenuity of its functional design, comprising horizontal floors radiating from a hollow center and channelling the movements of crowds around and into its mass through vaulted passageways, or rising along steep staircases. Long admired by architects, an object of wonder during the Middle Ages and for the modern tourist, the very presence of the Colosseum in the center of Rome marks the power of the material past to grasp our imagination even in its present semi-ruinous state. How this has been accomplished is the well-told story of this book.--Richard Brilliant, Columbia University

This lively book carries the reader painlessly through a complex record of legend and history. By the end the authors have touched authoritatively on architecture, mythological spectacle, imperial patronage, gladiators, sadism, early Christianity, and modern romantic impressions of the Colosseum. A delightful and instructive account.--G. W. Bowersock, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Stirring stuff! This is a welcome and well-written book--scholarly but accessible and level-headed. It reassesses the myths, politely debunks many misconceptions about what we know--and what we don't know--to put the fabulous monument in context from its founding to the present. The practical notes for modern visitors made me yearn to be there in Rome again.--Lindsey Davis, author of the "Falco" series of ancient Roman mysteries

Book Description

Award winning classicist, Mary Beard with Keith Hopkins, tell the story of Rome's greatest arena

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3165 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1846684706
  • Publisher: Profile Books (14 April 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004VB34FW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #61,042 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Picked up this book as I'm studying the Colosseum for a college course and what a find it is! Written in an engaging style without becoming too dry or academic, the book tells you not only about the structure itself and the incredible feat achieved in building it but also about the background of gladiatorial contests in the Roman empire and how the games fitted into Roman society. An effort has been made to include recent finds and theories about the Colosseum and many widely believed myths are "busted" too (Christians v Lions?), there is also some discussion about how this ruin has influenced later peoples (such as Byron and nineteenth century novelists).

The book is illustrated with some clear diagrams and pictures of paintings, graffito, and even an Asterix cartoon! One criticism is that sometimes some of the photographs are a little indistinct but this is only a very minor annoyance.

Also included are some tips on visiting the site.

All in all I found this book hugely enjoyable and have no reservation in recommending it to students or tourists alike!
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By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is fantastic. I had to do a project on the Colosseum for a course module and was a little stumped until I found this brilliant, brilliant book. It is well written, which with factual books, for me, means easy to read and understand without being patronising. It was very, very interesting indeed and had lots of fantastic snippets of information along with the usual, how many cubic metres of stone went into this etc, etc...It struck a lovely balance between the architecture, the history and the social significance of the building to the Romans. There were useful and relevant illustrations and a lovely, and I thought successful attempt to make it relevant to modern readers, with stuff on the film Gladiator and other contemporary resources. There was a good bibliography, which I used, so I know this to be true. I highly recommend this book, both if you're a curious tourist or a student. It's not too long, it's definitely not dry and it was well worth the money. It made me want to read others in the series, even though I'm no longer studying historical architecture, and that's saying something.
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By J. Chippindale TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 13 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
The Colloseum in Rome is arguably one of the five most famous buildings in the world but there are very few books about it. At least I have found that to be the case, as I have always had a fascination for the place. May this is the macabre side of me coming out. But it is not just the gladiatorial contests and many other blood letting contests that went on including wild animals fighting both humans and one another or the naval battles that were fought there. Yes naval battles, with real ships and the arena flooded with water. I readily admit that I find these interesting and have done for many years.

However the main attraction of the Flavian Amphitheatre, to give it its correct name is its architectural beauty. It is a building that we would be hard pressed to replicate today, even with all the modern building techniques that we now possess. A building that could fill with people and empty at the end of the games quicker than most modern football stadiums. A building that has stood the test of time. It is only vibration and pollution from modern day traffic that is now affecting the building more than the last two thousand years ever have.

A building that had more happening underground than ever happened above ground. Gladiator quarters, infirmaries. Lifts and hoists moved by an intricate network of pulleys and cables, that allowed wild animals to be brought up to the arena level.

This book tells you everything you need to know and more. It is well written And has some illustrations, but these are secondary to the excellent text.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very useful book for those who are planning to visit Rome and the Colosseum and for those who were wondering if Hollywood and Christian hagiography have over time painted a really accurate picture of the goings-on in the arena. I'll give you one guess at the right answer.
I've used the word 'useful' advisedly instead of words like thrilling or hugely entertaining. The reason is the figures. Almost every chapter of the Colosseum's and the Roman Games' history is drowned in them and you really have to like figures and calculations a lot to be thrilled by this way of history-writing. The book's sleeve notes promise us that this tale will be at times 'hilarious', but that is only for those who are very easily tickled.
So, 5 stars for factual information and 3 for entertainment value make for a 4-star rating.
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By J. Chippindale TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 13 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
The Colosseum in Rome is arguably one of the five most famous buildings in the world but there are very few books about it. At least I have found that to be the case, as I have always had a fascination for the place. May this is the macabre side of me coming out. But it is not just the gladiatorial contests and many other blood letting contests that went on including wild animals fighting both humans and one another or the naval battles that were fought there. Yes naval battles, with real ships and the arena flooded with water. I readily admit that I find these interesting and have done for many years.

However the main attraction of the Flavian Amphitheatre, to give it its correct name is its architectural beauty. It is a building that we would be hard pressed to replicate today, even with all the modern building techniques that we now possess. A building that could fill with people and empty at the end of the games quicker than most modern football stadiums. A building that has stood the test of time. It is only vibration and pollution from modern day traffic that is now affecting the building more than the last two thousand years ever have.

A building that had more happening underground than ever happened above ground. Gladiator quarters, infirmaries. Lifts and hoists moved by an intricate network of pulleys and cables, that allowed wild animals to be brought up to the arena level.

This book tells you everything you need to know and more. It is well written And has some illustrations, but these are secondary to the excellent text.
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