History in Review
Ancient Rome: Art, Architecture and History
By Ada Gabucci. Edited by Stefano Peccatori and Stefano Zuffi, and Translated from Italian by T. M. Hatmann. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum: 2002. Illustrated, Pg. 143.) ISBN: 0-89236-656-7.
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - July 21, 2002
Ancient Rome: Art, Architecture and History, written by Ada Gabucci, is an unusual book that, although small in size, covers a tremendous amount of information. It is part study guide, part history book, and it is partly a pictorial catalogue of Ancient Rome. This book contains 200 color illustrations covering all aspects of Ancient Roman art, architecture, and history. The text offers a general overview of the history of Ancient Rome, while simultaneously offering more in-depth information about some of the more intriguing aspects of Roman life and history, such as burial practices, various architectural endeavors, and specific cities.
Most history books must be read from cover to cover to reap the full benefit of its wisdom. However, this book, in keeping with its unusual format, is ideal for leafing or skimming through. You can pick and choose what you want to read, and in what order, as each page is a self-contained mini-essay that can be read independently of the other mini-essays in the text.
This book is divided, by date, into four sections:
Within each of these main sections, the content is organized into three thematic subsections:
- The Empire's Beginnings and Establishment (27 B.C. - A.D. 96)
- The Height of the Empire from Trajan to the Antonines (A.D. 96-192)
- Crisis in the Empire: From the Severans to the Tetrarchy (A.D. 192-305)
- The Fall of the Empire: Epilogue to an Ancient World (A.D. 305-565)
Each of these subsections is color-coded, so that you can easily find similar material in each of the four periods covered in this text.
- Historical and Artistic Background
- Art and Architecture
- Masterpieces of Art
Included in this fascinating book is a map of the Roman Empire under Trajan, and a map of fourth-century Rome. You will also find an index of places, and an index of names mentioned in the text. For most entries in the 'index of names, in addition to listing a particular name, additional information is also provided ranging from the dates of their births and deaths, to a very brief account of important events in their lives. For example, the entry for Mark Anthony ( on page 142), reads:
Mark Anthony (82-30 B.C.), was part of the second triumvirate with Lepidus and Octavian in 43 B.C.; when he was defeated at the battle of Actium in 31 B.C. he committed suicide.
This book is ideal as a study guide and reference book for students studying any aspect of Ancient Rome. It will also be of interest to anyone with an interest in Roman art and architecture, as this book is wonderfully illustrated. This book is not, however, for those seeking a serious history on Ancient Rome. This is because, although authoritative, this text was written for a general audience. Yet even scholars of Roman history will enjoy skimming through this delightful guidebook on Ancient Rome.
A Profile of Ancient Rome, by Flavio Conti.
A remarkably readable overview of life in Ancient Rome, including details about Rome's culture, economy, architecture, social and religious institutions, and the everyday life of Rome's working class residents.
Ruins of Ancient Rome, Edited by Massimiliano David.
The Drawings of French Architects Who Won the Prix de Rome 1786-1924.
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