Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia

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Although most Romans lived outside urban centers, the core of Roman civilization lay in its cities. Throughout the empire these cities—modeled as they were after Rome—were strikingly alike. In Gregory Aldrete’s exhaustive account, readers can peer into the inner workings of daily life in ancient Rome and examine the history, infrastructure, government, and economy of Rome; its emperors; and its inhabitants—their life and death, dangers and pleasures, entertainment, and religion.

Aldrete also shows how Roman cities differed. To accomplish this comparison, in addition to Rome, he explores Ostia, an industrial port town, and Pompeii, the doomed playground of the rich. Daily Life in the Roman City includes a chronology, maps, numerous illustrations, useful appendices (on names, the Roman calendar, clothing and appearance, and construction techniques), a bibliography, and an index.

This volume is ideal for high school and college students and for others wishing to examine the realities of life in ancient Rome.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is the type of book I could have done with as a newly qualified teacher… Aldrete has written an extraordinarily compact book on Roman history and society. He has a gift for condensing a huge amount of information into an accessible, readable form… I recommend this book for classroom and library use in schools. Undergraduates embarking on classical studies would also find it useful, as would anyone about to teach Classical Civilization with little specific knowledge."


Journal of Classics Teaching

"[F]or high school to college collections….[c]overs life in Rome, Pompeii and Ostia, covering not just history but political and governmental structures, local culture, dangers and pleasures, and the arts. Students receive plenty of references and supporting documentation."


MBR Bookwatch

"^IDaily Life in the Roman City^R is a useful textbook for a Roman civilization course….It offers an introduction into the functionality and character of ancient cities and the main differences from their modern counterparts."


The Historian

"In addition to describing the physical buildings of the classical city of Rome, Aldrete (history and humanistic studies, U. of Wisconsin-Green Bay) explains how the city functioned, who lived there, and what the lives of inhabitants were like. His focus is on ordinary people, who might see the rich and famous pass by now and then, but mostly just went about their lives. Living and dying, dangers and pleasures, entertainment and religion, and the economy are among his topics. He also includes chapters on the industrial port city Ostia, and Pompeii as preserved by ash."


Reference & Research Book News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806140278
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 163,549
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory S. Aldrete is Professor of History and Humanistic Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, and the author of Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome, Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Rome, and The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life in the Ancient World.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xi

Chronology xiii

1 Introduction: Roman Cities 1

Ancient Roman Cities 1

Goals and Structure of Book 3

2 History of Ancient Rome 7

Brief Survey of Roman History 7

The Foundation of Rome 9

Topography of the City: Rivers, Hills, Valleys, and Plains 11

City Development in the Monarchical Period 15

Republican Era Developments 16

Imperial Rome 18

Population of Rome 21

3 Infrastructure of Ancient Rome 25

Republican Aqueducts 25

Imperial Aqueducts 28

How the Water System Functioned 30

Roman Sewers 33

Roads 36

Bridges 39

Walls 40

4 Government of Ancient Rome 43

Citizenship 43

The Magistrates 44

The Voting Assemblies 46

The Roman Forum: Buildings and Monuments 47

5 The People of Ancient Rome 55

Family Structure 55

Women 56

Marriage 58

Children 62

Education 62

Slaves 65

Freedmen 68

Soldiers 71

6 Living and Dying in Ancient Rome 75

Domus: Private Homes 75

Insulae: Apartment Buildings 78

Health and Medicine 80

Burial 83

Funerary Inscriptions 86

Wills 91

7 Dangers of Life in Ancient Rome 93

Fires 93

Floods 94

Sanitation 97

Disease 100

Crime and the Law 103

8 Pleasures of Life in Ancient Rome 107

Gardens 107

Baths 108

Food and Banquets 111

Sex and Sexuality 113

9 Entertainment in Ancient Rome 119

Hoildays 119

Gladiators 121

The Flavian Amphitheator (The Colosseum) 125

Chariot Racing and the Circus Maximus 128

Beast Hunts 134

Spectacles 136

Theater, Dance, and Pantomime 138

10 Religion in Ancient Rome 141

Roman Religion 141

Priests and Ritual 143

Religion and Magic 148

Temples 150

Some Famous Temples at Rome 151

Mystery Religions158

Christianity 163

11 The Emperors and Ancient Rome 167

The Palaces of the Emperors 167

The Imperial Fora 170

Victory Monuments 176

Arches 178

Columns 181

Emperors Tombs 184

12 The Economy and Ancient Rome 187

Agriculture 187

Employment and Commerce 190

Roman Money 195

Feeding the City 196

13 Ostia: An Industrial Port City 203

History of Ostia 203

The Buildings of Ostia 208

The People of Ostia 213

Sea Travel 215

14 Pompeii: A Time Capsule of Roman Daily Life 219

History of Pompeii 219

Public Buildings 222

Private Homes 226

Economy 229

Daily Life 230

15 Conclusion: Three Visions of Roman Urbanism: Rome, Ostia, and Pompeii 235

Appendix I A Brief Guide to Understanding Roman Names 239

Appendix II A Brief Guide to Roman Timekeeping and the Calendar 241

Appendix III A Brief Guide to Roman Clothing and Appearance 245

Appendix IV A Brief Guide to Roman Construction Techniques 251

Appendix V The History of the City of Rome from Antiquity to Today 255

Bibliography 261

Index 269

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