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Daily Life in the Roman City

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Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia. By Gregory S. Aldrete. (University of Oklahoma Press, Norman: 2009. Pg. 296. B & W Illustrations, Maps.) ISBN: 978-0-8061-4027-8.

Reviewed by Herbert White - April 8, 2009

Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia is an engaging introductory social history on life in Ancient Roman cities. This text was written by Gregory S. Aldrete, who is a Professor of History and Humanistic Studies at the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay. Aldrete's vibrant narrative style and infusion of a massive amount of Roman trivia (from the cost of a slave to the size of Hadrian's mausoleum) makes this book accessible to high school and college students, as well as general readers of every ilk with an interest in Roman history and culture.

The text begins with an introduction to Roman cities and a brief overview of Roman history. He also has included a survey of Roman infrastructure, including aqueducts, sewer systems, roads, bridges, defensive walls, and the like. He also offers a brief examination of Roman government. Building upon this foundation, Aldrete then begins to delve into more detailed aspects of daily life in Ancient Rome, with chapters devoted to: The next two chapters in this text concentrate on daily life in the port city of Ostia, and on Pompeii. The last chapter of the book serves as the book's conclusion, and it highlights the differences between the ancient cities of Rome, Ostia, and Pompeii.

The inclusion of several 'brief guides' that cover Roman Names, Timekeeping, Clothing, Construction Techniques, and the history of the city Rome round out this exceptional introductory text on daily life in ancient Roman cities. The text is detailed enough to prove useful as a supplemental text in undergraduate history, sociology, and anthropology courses, or as a course text in high school classes. Students and general readers alike will find Daily Life in the Roman City to be informative and an enjoyable book to read.


Related Reviews:

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.

Experiencing Rome: Culture, Identity and Power in the Roman Empire, Edited by Janet Huskinson.
This book contains 12 essays on various aspects of Roman culture and it explores how identity and power were perceived by the ancient Romans.

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