The Colosseumby Keith Hopkins, Mary Beard
The Colosseum was Imperial Rome's monument to warfare. Like a cathedral of death it towered over the city and invited its citizens, 50,000 at a time, to watch murderous gladiatorial games. It is now visited by two million visitors a year (Hitler was among them). Award winning classicist, Mary Beard with Keith Hopkins, tell the story of Rome's greatest arena:/i>… See more details below
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The Colosseum was Imperial Rome's monument to warfare. Like a cathedral of death it towered over the city and invited its citizens, 50,000 at a time, to watch murderous gladiatorial games. It is now visited by two million visitors a year (Hitler was among them). Award winning classicist, Mary Beard with Keith Hopkins, tell the story of Rome's greatest arena: how it was built; the gladiatorial and other games that were held there; the training of the gladiators; the audiences who revelled in the games, the emperors who staged them and the critics. And the strange after story - the Colosseum has been fort, store, church, and glue factory.
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.
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.
The book covers a wide variety of topics, includingto give but a few examplesthe 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.
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.
A fascinating account for the Rome-bound traveler as well as the fan of European history.
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.
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 builtand at what cost.
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."
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
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 todayfour different construction crews worked on separate quarters of the building, with conspicuously differing results.
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G. W. Bowersock, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
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Meet the Author
KEITH HOPKINS was Professor of Ancient History at Cambridge and Vice-Provost of King's College.
MARY BEARD is Professor of Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, and the classics editor of the TLS. Her books include the acclaimed The Roman Triumph and The Parthenon (in the Wonders of the World series of which she is general editor). She is also the award winning author of Pompeii, which was a BBC documentary.
Keith Hopkins was Professor of Ancient History at Cambridge from 1985 to 2000 and Vice-Provost of King's College. He died in 2004.
Mary Beard is one of the most original and best-known classicists working today. She is professor of Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, and the Classics editor of the TLS. Her books include The Parthenon, The Colosseum, The Roman Triumph, and the bestselling Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town which won the 2008 Wolfson History Prize and was made into a successful BBC documentary. Her popular TLS blog has been collected in the books It's a Don's Life and All in a Don's Day. Her series Meet the Romans on BBC2 attracted over 2m viewers. Her new book SPQR : A History of Ancient Rome will be published by Profile Books in October 2015. She lives in Cambridge.
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