Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pg. XCIX: "Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day"

The current feature at the Page XCIX Test: Philip Matyszak's Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day.

About the book, from the publisher:
A time-traveler’s guide to sightseeing, shopping, and survival in the city of the Caesars

Welcome to Rome, city of the Caesars!

This informative and entertaining guide provides everything that any tourist needs for a journey back in time to ancient Rome in AD 200. All you need is your imagination and a toothbrush — this book does the rest, describing all the best places to stay and shop, what to do, and what to avoid.

The guide first gives advice on arranging the sea journey to Italy, and then describes the road to Rome and what to see on each of the city’s famous seven hills. You learn what to take to a posh dinner party (dining robe, your own napkin, and indoor shoes) and where to find the best markets, public baths, and brothels.

A series of walks covers all the sights of the eternal city, from the opulence of an imperial palace on the Palatine Hill through the bustle of the Forum to the grandeur of temples such as the Pantheon. The largest and most populous city in the ancient world has more than one hundred spectacles to offer, including chariot races and events at the Colosseum where gladiators battle to the death.

Witty and accessible, this book will appeal to history buffs, travelers, and anyone who has ever wondered what it would have been like to visit the greatest city of ancient times.
Among the praise for the book:
"[A] delightful travel guide for time-travelers to the Ancient Rome of about 200 A.D. The author starts from scratch, by laying out in detail how a sea journey is to be planned, with plenty of warnings and a distance chart, and he recommends the port of Puteoli as first destination point and carriage or foot travel from there to Rome. He concludes the guide book with a map and a few “useful phrases,” such as, noli me necare, cape omnias pecunias meas, Don’t kill me, here’s all my money. In between, there is all you wanted to know and more...."
--Irene B. Hahn

''Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day. It's a great idea: what would a traveler to Rome in 200 AD find and how would he or she spend his days? The book has chapters on Dining Out and What to Buy, as in a modern guidebook.... It's full of surprising information and is written in an engaging style...."
--Richard Zimler

--[R]equired reading for time travelers headed to Italy.... Beyond time warp humor, the guidebook format offers Matyszak the chance to provide pithy lessons on currency, gastronomy, systems of measuring weight and time, and all the day-to-day details of life in a long-ago civilization. The sightseeing sections provide a flavor of the Circus Maximus, Colosseum, and other major landmarks, not as today’s ruins, but as the vibrant centers of public life they once were. You’ll learn about the rules of gladiator combat, the best way to tie your toga, and what to expect on a visit to the baths. This is a terrific gift for history buffs, fans of the HBO series Rome, and anyone up for a little old school dolce vita."
--Passport Magazine
"Travel in Rome, circa 200 AD, may hold many dangers for unwary travelers, especially for those who have watched too many toga epics on television. Wearing a toga, for example, may earn you a flogging if you are a man (unless you are a Roman citizen); while if you are a woman, it will signify that you are a prostitute. Clearly this is not a trip you should undertake without a trustworthy guide. Fortunately, we now have one. This handy volume discusses what to watch out for when dealing with money changers, proper decorum when speaking to slaves, and where to find the best seats at the Circus Maximus. It also contains the basic information you would expect from any guidebook, such as where to stay, where to eat, and what to see. In short, it tells you everything you need to know for your vacation in ancient Rome..."
--Get Lost Books
Read an excerpt from Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day, and learn more about Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day at the publisher's website.

Philip Matyszak teaches ancient history in Cambridge. His books include Chronicle of the Roman Republic, The Enemies of Rome, and The Sons of Caesar.

The Page 99 Test: Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day.

--Marshal Zeringue