A History of Private Life, Volume I: From Pagan Rome to Byzantium available in Paperback
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First of the widely celebrated and sumptuously illustrated series, this book reveals in intimate detail what life was really like in the ancient world. Behind the vast panorama of the pagan Roman empire, the reader discovers the intimate daily lives of citizens and slavesfrom concepts of manhood and sexuality to marriage and the family, the roles of women, chastity and contraception, techniques of childbirth, homosexuality, religion, the meaning of virtue, and the separation of private and public spaces.
The emergence of Christianity in the West and the triumph of Christian morality with its emphasis on abstinence, celibacy, and austerity is startlingly contrasted with the profane and undisciplined private life of the Byzantine Empire. Using illuminating motifs, the authors weave a rich, colorful fabric ornamented with the results of new research and the broad interpretations that only masters of the subject can provide.
About the Author
Paul Veyne is Professor at the Collège de France.
Georges Duby, a member of the Académie Française, is Professor of Medieval History at the Collège de France.
Table of Contents
by Georges Duby
by Paul Veyne
1. Roman Empire
by Paul Veyne
From Mother's Womb to Last Will and Testament
The Household and Its Freed Slaves
Where Public Life Was Private
"Work" and Leisure
Public Opinion and Utopia
Pleasures and Excesses
2. Late Antiquity
by Peter Brown
The "Wellborn" Few
Person and Group in Judaism and Early Christianity
Church and Leadership
The Challenge of the Desert
East and West: The New Marital Morality
3. Private Life and Domestic Architecture in Roman Africa
by Yvon Thébert
The Roman Home: Foreword by Paul Veyne
Some Theoretical Considerations
The Domestic Architecture of the Ruling Class
"Private" and "Public" Spaces: The Components of the Domus
How the Domus Worked
4. The Early Middle Ages in the West
by Michel Rouche
Introduction by Paul Veyne
Private Life Conquers State and Society
Body and Heart
Violence and Death
Sacred and Secret
5. Byzantium in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries
by Evelyne Patlagean
The Byzantine Empire
Self and Others
The Inner Life
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a deceptive book. It's not really a 'history of private life', nor does it really cover much of the ground between 'Rome and Byzantium.' It is a collection of papers by French academics from the Annales School, translated into English, with a lot of very nice plates which occasionally have some relation to the text they accompany. It lacks proper citations and reads more like a philosophical/political tract than a proper history book.
Used this book as a resource when in school in Jerusalem. Very informative and interesting.
This book is a little less than satisfying. Each section is by a different author. Peter Brown on Late Antiquity is good. Paul Veyne is so-so: he makes many generalizations on Ancient Rome and seems to concentrate on the upper classes exclusively. Yvon Thebet is excellent on the architect of North Africa (How is this about private life?). Informative, with a great bunch of pictures but ultimately a mixed bag.