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Review: A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome

Angela Alberto

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Angela Alberto, A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome

The book by Angelo Alberto “A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome” is another interesting proposition for people who would like to get to know the everyday life of ancient Romans in an accessible and interesting way. The author, who also wrote the well-known position on the market “Pompeii. The last three days”, is an Italian paleontologist, journalist, and writer. He gained popularity, especially on Italian television as a commentator and author of popular science films about ancient times.

The author in his position in an extremely clear way shows us the world of the Romans from 115 CE, during the reign of Emperor Trajan, i.e. the splendor of the Roman Empire. Rome then held a dominant position in the region, which no one and nothing could undermine. Reading a book, we go on a one-day walk through the streets of the Eternal City, where the author will act as our guide. We have the opportunity to find out what the Romans ate for breakfast, what their daily rhythm looked like, what their hygiene looked like, and which floors in Roman tenement houses were occupied by richer and poorer residents.

The author tries to really broadly tell us about various aspects of everyday life. We get to know not only the lives of the rich but also those of the poorest who fight every day for survival. It is an extraordinary experience because the reader really identifies with the described people and relates the ancient living conditions to modern times. Frequent fires mean that shopkeepers running a business can lose all their possessions overnight, and residents their belongings and housing. All this resulted from the extremely tight wooden buildings of the city and the dangerous use of fire indoors.

However, there are points with which I do not fully agree. among others the author mentions that the Romans used to eat a hearty breakfast when, according to my information, it was rather light; especially if we are talking about plebeians. I think only the upper classes could afford larger meals. I also encountered the wrong pronunciation of words – presented by the author in the book.

In conclusion, I believe that this book is worth recommending to all those who want to get to know the everyday world of the Romans in an accessible way. The author relies on his extensive knowledge, knowledge of archaeological discoveries and research, and refers to the authorities of history. In my opinion, the book is also an interesting addition to the publishing market in Poland.

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