Cover: The Ancient Middle Classes: Urban Life and Aesthetics in the Roman Empire, 100 BCE–250 CE, from Harvard University PressCover: The Ancient Middle Classes in PAPERBACK

The Ancient Middle Classes

Urban Life and Aesthetics in the Roman Empire, 100 BCE–250 CE

Add to Cart

Product Details


$23.50 • £18.95 • €21.00

ISBN 9780674416963

Publication Date: 09/01/2014


312 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

30 halftones


[A] remarkable volume… Mayer provides an indispensable and well-argued refutation of the conventional top-down readings of Roman art.—G. S. Gessert, Choice

This is a splendid book written in an engaging style. Mayer illuminates the distinctive social identity and cultural tastes of the the Roman middle classes through a perceptive study of art and literature. His readings of texts and images are subtle and persuasive. Highly recommended for all those interested in Roman Art and Roman Social History.—Edward M. Harris, Durham University

Moving beyond crude stereotypes of a Roman society riven between a gilded 1 percent and a downtrodden 99 percent, Mayer breaks new ground by marshaling a wide range of archaeological evidence to reconstruct the forgotten world of the comfortable middling households who left their mark on the urban landscapes of the ancient Mediterranean.—Walter Scheidel, Stanford University

Mayer has written a bold and striking book that sets the houses and tombs of the Roman middle class under the Empire against a carefully researched backdrop of the contemporary urban economy. He pulls together the art, archaeology, and social history of a new monument-buying class into an elegant and highly readable narrative.—R. R. R. Smith, University of Oxford

Recent News

From Our Blog

Jacket, Author Unknown: The Power of Anonymity in Ancient Rome, by Tom Geue, from Harvard University Press

Who Needs an Author?

In his new book Author Unknown: The Power of Anonymity in Ancient Rome, classicist Tom Geue asks us to work with anonymity rather than against it and to appreciate the continuing power of anonymity in our own time. Here, he discusses the history—and strength—of anonymous works of literature. Back in the roaring ’20s, I. A. Richar

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library ( extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.