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An introduction to the daily life in ancient rome

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.

The People and the City at the Height of the Empire. Edited and annotated by Henry T. Yale University Press, 2003. However, it was written and published more than sixty years ago in 1939under completely different circumstances.

General views on some matters have evolved considerably, and scientific investigation has also thrown new light on specific issues.

AN INTRODUCTION TO ANCIENT ROME

This new edition of Carcopino's work reproduces a classical text which is still illuminating and worth reading, while adding new material in order to fill in the temporal gap, so that the reader can enjoy his vivid description of the Romans' way of life without being misled or misinformed. The additions consist of a new introduction and a bibliographic essay by Mary Beard.

In a succinct introduction pp. In general terms he presented the reader with a "vivid picture of backstreet and domestic life" pp. However, twenty-first century readers may find his moralizing passages awkward. They certainly bear witness to an epoch's Weltanschauung and are the product of a peculiar personality, who is portrayed by Beard in a brief biographical sketch, with especial emphasis on his occupation as minister of education of Vichy France and on the genesis of his book pp.

Readers are also warned against some superseded views on aspects such as women, sex and religion p. She rounds off her introduction by assessing the question "What is exactly the study of daily life?

Next, the reader can find the canonical English translation of Carcopino's work, that of Lorimer, edited and annotated by Rowell pp. The last consists of two parts: It is to be noted that, despite making a valuable introduction to Carcopino's sources and, therefore, to the sources of any history of Roman daily life, the first part lacks depth.

This is especially the case regarding the bibliography on specific literary sources, practically omitted, except for some works on certain authors p.

Everyday life in ancient Rome

A Historical and Social Commentary, Oxford 1966or the increasing research on Martial's epigrams, with commentaries illustrating almost every single book, could have been mentioned.

Nothing is said of authors such as Seneca, on whom Carcopino draws heavily. As regards Petronius's Satyricon, Beard passes over the debated question of its authorship and date p. The bibliography concerning non-literary sources, however, seems both pertinent and comprehensive. The same could be said of the bibliographic essay proper: She devotes this section to criticize certain assertions made by Carcopino, especially regarding sex, women, or religion, as was pointed out in the introduction, but there is no detailed discussion on his views: Beard rounds off the book by resuming her first introductory pages: After the bibliographic essay come the notes to Carcopino's book, translated by Lorimer and expanded by Rowell, and an index.

This layout and the spirit of this new edition may lead the reader to expect that issues discussed either in the introduction or in the bibliographic essay would be indexed.

  • Yale University Press, 2003;
  • This is especially the case regarding the bibliography on specific literary sources, practically omitted, except for some works on certain authors p;
  • The bibliography concerning non-literary sources, however, seems both pertinent and comprehensive;
  • The People and the City at the Height of the Empire.

However, the index pertains only to Carcopino's text. It would have been much more useful and reasonable either to place the index just before the bibliographic essay or to expand it so that it encompasses Beard's additions and helps the reader in search of specific information.

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In spite of this minor flaw, this new edition of Carcopino's work is a valuable contribution to the field, for it places the book in its context and gives the present-day reader the possibility to enjoy a classical introduction to the topic, as well as to enhance their knowledge with pertinent new studies: Other publishing houses should follow this example, allowing Carcopino's frequently reprinted versions in other languages, such as Spanish, to profit from this kind of reassessment.

The most recent edition in Spanish J. Carcopino, La vida cotidiana en Roma en el apogeo del imperio.

The Spanish reader would certainly appreciate a more up to date and accessible bibliographic appendix.