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The Great Fire of Rome

Life and Death in the Ancient City

Peril was everywhere in ancient Rome, but the Great Fire of 64 CE was unlike anything the city had ever experienced. No building, no neighborhood, no person was safe from conflagration. When the fire finally subsided—after burning for nine days straight—vast swaths of Rome were in ruins. The greatest city of the ancient world had endured its greatest blow.

In The Great Fire of Rome, Joseph J. Walsh tells the true story of this deadly episode in Rome's history. He explains why Rome was such a vulnerable tinderbox, outlines the difficulties of life in that exciting and dangerous city, and recounts the fire's aftermath and legacy—a legacy that includes the transformation of much of ancient Rome into a modern city. Situating the fire within the context of other perils that residents of Rome faced, including frequent flooding, pollution, crime, and dangerously shoddy construction, he highlights the firefighting technology of the period and examines the ways in which the city's architecture and planning contributed to the severity of the blaze.

Introducing readers to the grim realities of life in that overwhelming and overwhelmed city while chronicling its later glories, The Great Fire of Rome is grounded in the latest scholarship on fire analysis and forensics. Walsh's multifaceted analysis, balanced insights, and concise, accessible prose make this book a versatile teaching tool. Readers interested in ancient (and modern) Rome, urban life, and civic disasters, among other things, will be fascinated by this book.

About the Author

Joseph J. Walsh is a professor of classics and history at Loyola University Maryland. He is the author of Were They Wise Men or Kings? The Book of Christmas Questions.6

Endorsements

"The Great Fire of Rome combines disasters, daily life, and the emperor Nero, all of which have proved enduringly popular subjects in ancient history, in a fresh and stimulating way. Vividly and vigorously written, this lively account is thought-provoking and provocative."

- Jerry Toner, University of Cambridge, author of The Day Commodus Killed a Rhino: Understanding the Roman Games

"Walsh's examination of the Great Fire is wide-ranging in its scope, impressively well researched, sensible in its assessments, and above all gloriously vivid. This is a book that both the general reader and the professional scholar can read with pleasure and profit."

- James B. Rives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, editor of Tacitus: "The Agricola" and "The Germania"

"Distinctive in The Great Fire of Rome are the ways in which Walsh uses each aspect of the fire and its aftermath to explore themes from Roman imperial topography to the social structures of the city's inhabitants to the early history of the Roman Christian community. In lively and accessible prose, he displays commendable sympathy for the plight of the ordinary Romans caught up in the catastrophe. For those with a serious interest in Nero and his fire, this book is the place to begin."

- Stephen L. Dyson, University at Buffalo, author of Rome
Johns Hopkins University Press
Witness to Ancient History
From 13 To 17

9781421433707 : the-great-fire-of-rome-walsh
Hardback
October 1, 2019
$59.95 USD
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Paperback / softback
October 1, 2019
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$19.95 USD

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