Audiobook Review: 24 Hours in Ancient Rome:A Day in the Life of the People Who Lived There


24 Hours in Ancient Rome: A Day in the Life of the People Who Lived There by Philip Matyszak, Narration by Michael Page

This is a history book that’s not a history book. Author Philip Matyszak asks the question - What would it be like to spend a day in ancient Rome? 

To answer the question Matyszak picks a day in AD 137, at the height of Rome’s Empire. As he notes in the introduction, in the year 137 “from the Thames to the Tigris, Rome is mighty, feared and respected”. Yet “most of the people we encounter in this book don’t care about that”.

What Matyszak gives us is not a history of empire or conquest, but instead a chance to step into the shoes of 24 (one for each hour of the day) Roman citizens and glimpse their world from their perspective. So we meet a baker, and a school teacher, a tavern keeper, a cook, a bath attendant, a priestess, and many others. 

The approach is similar to other books, like The Year 1000 which I read and reviewed last year, but compressed into a single day. Just like that book this one is as much about entertaining as enlightening. I did learn quite a bit about Roman society and customs that I didn’t understand before, as well as a better appreciation for how Rome as a city full of many kinds of citizens would have functioned 2000 years ago.  

Matyszak is a prolific writer on ancient Roman and Greek societies, and has a companion audiobook - 24 Hours in Ancient Athens - that I’ve added to my TBR. He also has a 24 Hours in Ancient Egypt too.

RATING: Three and a Half Stars ⭐⭐⭐🌠

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Title: 24 Hours in Ancient Rome

Author: Philip Matyszak

Publisher: Tantor Audio

Publish Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN-13: Not Available

Publisher’s List Price: Not Available (offers links to Audible &