History of Private Life, Volume I: From Pagan Rome to Byzantium

by Paul Veyne

Other authorsGeorges Duby (Series Editor), Arthur Goldhammer (Translator), Phillippe Ariès (Series Editor)
Hardcover, 1987



Local notes

390 A Vol.I




Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (1987), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 704 pages


First of the widely celebrated and sumptuously illustrated series, this book reveals in intimate detail what life was really like in the ancient world. Behind the vast panorama of the pagan Roman empire, the reader discovers the intimate daily lives of citizens and slaves--from concepts of manhood and sexuality to marriage and the family, the roles of women, chastity and contraception, techniques of childbirth, homosexuality, religion, the meaning of virtue, and the separation of private and public spaces. The emergence of Christianity in the West and the triumph of Christian morality with its emphasis on abstinence, celibacy, and austerity is startlingly contrasted with the profane and undisciplined private life of the Byzantine Empire. Using illuminating motifs, the authors weave a rich, colorful fabric ornamented with the results of new research and the broad interpretations that only masters of the subject can provide.… (more)


Original publication date


Physical description

704 p.; 9.3 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member Florentius
This is a deceptive book. It's not really a 'history of private life', nor does it really cover much of the ground between 'Rome and Byzantium.' It is a collection of papers by French academics from the Annales School, translated into English, with a lot of very nice plates which occasionally have
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some relation to the text they accompany. It lacks proper citations and reads more like a philosophical/political tract than a proper history book.
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LibraryThing member haeesh
This book is a little less than satisfying. Each section is by a different author. Peter Brown on Late Antiquity is good. Paul Veyne is so-so: he makes many generalizations on Ancient Rome and seems to concentrate on the upper classes exclusively. Yvon Thebet is excellent on the architect of North
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Africa (How is this about private life?). Informative, with a great bunch of pictures but ultimately a mixed bag.
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LibraryThing member DanelMaddison
This volume, like the enire series is exceptionally insightful in providing a comprehensive picture of daily life in the select periods on which the authors focus. The chapter organization is especially effective and the visual aides illucidate the argument.
LibraryThing member datrappert
I found the chapters on Rome enlightening and fascinating. This book brings home the brutality of daily Roman life, especially with its descriptions of abandoned infants left to die by the side of the road. It is important when looking at the merits of the Greek and Roman cultures whose heritage we
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have inherited to take off our rose-colored glasses and see the flip-side as well. This book reveals a lot of history overlooked elsewhere.
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LibraryThing member bongo_x
Dense, interesting, uneven. I didn’t realize this was translated from French. I don’t think I’ve reached for the dictionary this often in quite a while. Much more like a textbook than I was expecting, it’s a collection of essays, not the History Channel overview I was expecting. As someone
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who hasn’t studied much of this time it did give me a completely different perspective, although I suspect everyone would not agree with the picture presented here.
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LibraryThing member Kateingilo
Used this book as a resource when in school in Jerusalem. Very informative and interesting.
LibraryThing member ritaer
Not as much on private life as one expects from the title. Nature of matherial concentrates on upper classes and therefore, to a certain extent on public implications of private actions and habits.




½ (101 ratings; 3.9)
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