The roar of frenzied spectators inside the Coliseum during a battle between gladiators. A crowd of onlookers gathered around a slave driver. The wondrous plenty of banquets where flamingos are roasted whole and wine flows like rivers. The silence of the baths and the boisterous taverns . . . Many books have dealt with the history of ancient Rome, but none has been able to bring its readers so near to daily life in the Imperial capital.
This extraordinary voyage of exploration, guided by Alberto Angela with the charm of a born storyteller, lasts twenty-four hours, beginning at dawn on an ordinary day in the year 115 A.D., with Imperial Rome at the height of its power. The reader wakes in a rich patrician home and discovers frescoes, opulent furnishings and richly appointed boudoirs. Strolling though the splendors of the Roman Forum, one overhears both erudite opinions from learned orators and local ribaldry floating out from the public latrines. One meets the intense gazes of Roman matriarchs strolling the streets, looks on as a banquet is prepared, and is afforded a peek into the sexual habits and fetishes of Roman patricians and plebs. For all those who have ever dreamed of traveling back in time, Alberto Angela’s narrative style will come as a welcome change to dry historical tomes.
Alberto Angela hosts two of Italy’s most popular science television programs, Superquark and Quark Speciale. He is the author of Life-sized Museums (1988) and, with his father Piero Angela, The Extraordinary Story of a Growing Life (1996), Sharks (1997), and Voyage in the Cosmos (1998).