The Fires of Vesuvius

The Fires of Vesuvius

Pompeii Lost and Found

Book - 2008
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Pompeii is the most famous archaeological site in the world, visited by more than two million people each year. Yet it is also one of the most puzzling, with an intriguing and sometimes violent history, from the sixth century BCE to the present day. Destroyed by Vesuvius in 79 CE, the ruins of Pompeii offer the best evidence we have of life in the Roman Empire. But the eruptions are only part of the story. In The Fires of Vesuvius, acclaimed historian Mary Beard makes sense of the remains. She explores what kind of town it was--more like Calcutta or the Costa del Sol?--and what it can tell us about ordinary life there. From sex to politics, food to religion, slavery to literacy, Beard offers us the big picture even as she takes us close enough to the past to smell the bad breath and see the intestinal tapeworms of the inhabitants of the lost city. She resurrects the Temple of Isis as a testament to ancient multiculturalism. At the Suburban Baths we go from communal bathing to hygiene to erotica. Recently, Pompeii has been a focus of pleasure and loss: from Pink Floyd's memorable rock concert to Primo Levi's elegy on the victims. But Pompeii still does not give up its secrets quite as easily as it may seem. This book shows us how much more and less there is to Pompeii than a city frozen in time as it went about its business on 24 August 79.
Publisher: Cambridge : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008.
ISBN: 9780674029767
0674029763
Characteristics: 360 p. :,ill. (some col.), maps ;,25 cm.

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minkeydork
Sep 24, 2014

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Mary Beard has a great depth and breadth of knowledge of ancient Rome, but her writing is affable, approachable and fun to read.

j
john_of_herridge
Sep 18, 2010

Number 8 in list of the top 10 History books, from The Independent Books. In fact they recommend:
Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town
By Mary Beard
Mary Beard uses the ancient relics buried by the volcanic ash of Mount Vesuvius to bring the existence of everyday Roman people to life. Covering everything from government to graffiti, Beard's work takes the humdrum of Roman domesticity and turns it into a compelling account of the life of one Roman town.

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