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

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

Edited by Paul Veyne
Translated by Arthur Goldhammer

ISBN 9780674399747

Publication date: 09/01/1992

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.

Praise

  • Private life has always been a matter of public conjecture. This admirable book brings it intelligently into the web of social history and is a model for historians and readers alike. Beautifully produced, it adds apt and rare illustrations to a text by experts who presuppose human curiosity, but no undue knowledge. Its range and level of argument will intrigue anyone who has wondered about past attitudes to such matters as sex and the family, households, social inferiors, dress and even undress.

    —Robin Lane Fox, Washington Post

Authors

  • Paul Veyne is Professor at the Collège de France.
  • Georges Duby, a member of the Académie Française, is Professor of Medieval History at the Collège de France.

Book Details

  • 688 pages
  • 7 x 9 inches
  • Belknap Press
  • Series edited by Phillippe Ariès and Georges Duby

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