The history of one of the world’s most fascinating civilisations, a people both dynamic and feared, is newly presented in a stunning two-volume Folio edition.
The Life Of A Roman Town
Introduced by Ferdinand Mount
In this award-winning history, Mary Beard guides us through the daily life of Pompeii, an existence that is far more complex than we might have realised. Lively, exciting and accessible, this book brings us as close as possible to the real Pompeii.
Smoke and ash darkening the air; rivers of lava pouring onto a town; a terrified populace fleeing with hastily gathered possessions. The destruction of Pompeii still grips the world’ imagination, but what can we really tell from its preserved remains? In this award-winning history, Mary Beard guides us through the daily life of Pompeii, an existence that is far more complex than we might have realised.
Three-quarter-bound in blocked cloth
Modigliani paper side printed with Flora, or Primavera, from the Villa Adriana in Stabiae
Set in Plantin
Frontispiece and 32 pages of colour plates
10˝ x 6¾˝
‘If you want to know what really happened in the last days of the petrified city, Beard’s meticulous reconstruction will fill you in, scraping away many of your preconceptions as it goes, while her evocative writing will transport you back’
Digging beneath the myths and assumptions, Beard reveals a place of contradictions. Contrary to popular assumption, the inhabitants were warned about the volcano; the town was semi-evacuated when it was engulfed. Only 17 years earlier Pompeii had been rocked by a catastrophic earthquake, from which it was still recovering. A wealthy, multi-cultural town, Pompeii had made a fortune in fish sauce, perhaps the least appetising of condiments. It was a place devoted to the pleasures of life, where statues of gods and phalluses were equally popular. We find that the poorest inhabitants had no kitchens or sanitation, yet the sophisticated street design featured traffic-calming measures, advertising billboards and even a congestion zone. By providing a fresh interpretation of the graffiti on the walls, Beard even lets the Pompeiians speak: ’Ladicula’s a thief’, ’Atimetus got me pregnant’. Lively, exciting and accessible, this book brings us as close as possible to the real Pompeii.
‘Mary Beard has had a great time rooting about that ghostly place and she has brought it quite splendidly back to life’
- Sunday Telegraph
Mary Beard is Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge and a broadcaster and writer; Pompeii is one of her best-known books. This edition contains 32 pages of colour photographs, from images of Pompeii’s streets with their raised stepping stones, possibly to protect pedestrians from piles of refuse, to haunting plaster casts of the volcano’s victims. Each photograph has been captioned by the author, and two redrawn maps as endpapers show the site of Pompeii and its surroundings. In a newly commissioned preface, author Ferdinand Mount praises this account of a ’city of gags and graffiti’. ’[Mary Beard] manages to show us at the same time that almost none of the things we have always assumed about the destruction of the city in 79 AD is quite true, and yet that in a larger sense most of them are true, some of them truer than we knew.’
About Mary Beard
Mary Beard is one of the most original and best-known classicists working today. She is Professor of Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, and the Classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement. Her books include the Wolfson Prize-winning Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town (2008), Women & Power: A Manifesto (2017) and Civilisations: How Do We Look?/The Eye of Faith (2018). Her popular TLS blog has been collected in the books It’s a Don’s Life (2009) and All in a Don’s Day (2012). Mary Beard is a Fellow of the British Academy and was awarded an OBE in 2013 and a damehood in 2018 for services to classical scholarship.
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