The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found

Mary Beard, Author . Harvard Univ. $26.95 (360p) ISBN 978-0-674-02976-7

In a grand synthesis, one of our most distinguished classicists relates all that we know—and don't know—about ancient Pompeii, devastated by a flood of lava and volcanic ash from Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Beard splendidly recreates the life and times of Pompeii in a work that is part archeology and part history. She examines the full scope of life, from houses, occupations, government, food and wine to sex, and the baths, recreation and religion. In this bustling seaside town, makers of garum , a concoction of rotten seafood and salt, did a modest business, but Umbricius Scaurus marketed his product as “premium” garum and became one of Pompeii's nouveaux riches. Focusing on the restored houses, Beard refutes the common notion that most Romans ate their meals while reclining on a triclinium. Rather, they ate wherever they could within the home. Finally, Beard reminds us that everybody except the very poorest went to the baths, which served as a great social leveler. Beard's tour de force takes the study of ancient history to a new level. 23 color and 113 b&w illus. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/06/2008
Release date: 12/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-674-05616-9
Paperback - 360 pages - 978-0-674-04586-6
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