Populus: Living and Dying in Ancient Rome (Hardcover)

Populus: Living and Dying in Ancient Rome By Guy de la Bédoyère Cover Image

Populus: Living and Dying in Ancient Rome (Hardcover)

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This revealing look at life in ancient Rome offers a compelling journey through the vivid landscape of politics, domestic life, entertainment, and inequality experienced daily by Romans of all social strata.

Frenzied crowds, talking ravens, the stench of the Tiber River: life in ancient Rome was stimulating, dynamic, and often downright dangerous. The Romans relaxed and gossiped in baths, stole precious water from aqueducts, and partied and dined to excess. Everyone from senators to the enslaved crowded into theaters and circuses to watch their favorite singers, pantomime, and comedies and scream their approval at charioteers. The lucky celebrated their accomplishments with elaborate tombs. Amid pervasive inequality and brutality, beauty also flourished through architecture, poetry, and art.
 
From the smells of fragrant cookshops and religious sacrifices to the cries of public executions and murderous electoral mobs, Guy de la Bédoyère’s Populus draws on a host of historical and literary sources to transport us into the intensity of daily life at the height of ancient Rome.
 
Guy de la Bédoyère has written many books on the ancient world, including, most recently, Gladius: The World of the Roman Soldier and Pharaohs of the Sun. He was part of Channel 4’s archaeology series Time Team for many years, has lectured widely, and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
Product Details ISBN: 9780226832944
ISBN-10: 0226832945
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: April 24th, 2024
Pages: 496
Language: English
"Diverting . . .  Populus draws on such archives of the quotidian to make ancient Rome seem both wonderfully weird and convincingly real. . . . Populus abounds in such peeks beneath the surface of 'official' Rome. . . .If Populus works best as a smorgasbord, it is an appealing one indeed. With his wide array of sources, his eye for compelling details and his engaging prose style, de la Bédoyère keeps the reader eager for more—and wondering what strange facet of Roman life will be served up next."
— Wall Street Journal

"Providing considerable detail in an easygoing style, this brings to pulsing life the average Roman’s daily existence. Roman history buffs will be thrilled."
— Publishers Weekly

"De la Bédoyère paints a vibrant picture, giving readers a lively and immersive look at life in this legendary ancient city."
— Booklist

"Roman life in all its familiarity and absurdity is the subject of de la Bédoyère’s rollicking new book, Populus. Drawing on letters, inscriptions, plays, poems, architecture, coinage and the preserved contents of Herculaneum’s sewers, de la Bédoyère sets out to reconstruct how people of all stations lived. What they ate, smelt, saw and believed; how they supported, entertained, protected and thought about themselves. . . . The anecdote-heavy approach in Populus isn’t just lively, it’s consequential. The norms that governed Roman life were – like ours – never set down as written rules. They were flexible, open to reinterpretation, the result of constant negotiation between past ideals and present realities. Thanks to de la Bédoyère, they emerge here as they would have been felt: the cumulative product of thousands of decisions made by individual Romans every day."
— Telegraph (on the UK edition)

"De la Bédoyère, a former expert on the Channel 4 archaeology series Time Team, has delivered a comprehensive and very well referenced appraisal of city life, although it has been constructed rather higgledy-piggledy and without an overarching theme, much like the city itself. Where the archaeological record in Rome is patchy, he extrapolates on how life must have been from discoveries at sites such as Pompeii and Ostia as well as the vast written evidence, including letters and inscriptions."
 
— The Times (on the UK edition)