the roman forum guidebook

What is so important about the guidebook The Roman Forum: From Outpost to Empire in Ten Easy Centuries?  Well, it’s reader-friendly.  For example, it tackles the history of the Forum in chronological order.  (And that’s more than most guidebooks on the Forum have done!)  It also possesses a distinct voice: mine.  The book is fun, as if I were talking about the Roman Forum with you in real life, in the Forum.  I also decided to pitch the book to everyone.  So, you don’t need to be a history or archeology graduate to enjoy it.  You just have to be curious.  (But if you are a history graduate, great!  You’ll find footnotes galore and a bibliography that will keep you busy for half a lifetime.)

Second, the guidebook The Roman Forum: From Outpost to Empire is not just about history.  It’s also about architecture.  For example, we’ll look at how local building styles and materials changed radically over the centuries.  And I talk extensively about ancient Romans’ use and development of concrete.  But the guidebook is also about anthropology: what finger-foods did the Pontifex Maximus serve his guests? What drove the ancient Roman economy?  What does S.P.Q.R. mean, and what did it mean to the Romans who used it?  Read more about that here!

In the Roman Forum a Picture is Worth 1000 Words!

Lots of people are visual learners.  So, I used photos, maps, and prints to illustrate important ideas in The Roman Forum: From Outpost to Empire in Ten Easy Centuries.  For example, there’s a map of the Roman Forum and its monuments for each key era (i.e. the Monarchy, Republic, and Empire).  Each of the fourteen chapters begins with a photo and/or a hypothetical recreation of the monument it discusses.  This enables armchair travelers to envision the building in question, while visitors in the Forum can pinpoint it immediately.  (Because if you think there’s signage in the Forum, think again!)  And, in every chapter, drawings, prints, and photos flank the text, aiding comprehension.

I’ve taken an example from my book to demonstrate just how useful pictures are: One photo shows an ancient coin and the other the Senate House in the Roman Forum.  Octavian, soon to be known as Augustus, had the coin minted to commemorate the Senate House’s inauguration.  And, although the image on the coin is telegraphic, it is brimming with information.  A statue stands on the ridgepole with others to its left and right; a relief embellishes the triangular pediment; an imposing dedicatory inscription stating IMP CAESAR is below it; even further down three large window are visible; beneath them, a porch supported by four columns.

Even a perfunctory look at the coin confirms that the building that we see today is nowhere near as elegant as it originally was.  Its gilded bronze statuary is missing.  The walls’ marble siding and the columns have been stolen.  It no longer has its porch… but the basic shape and the three imposing windows along the front remain.  Thank the Gods for ancient Roman coins, like this one!  It is one of the many precious visual aids that I have used to fill in missing details.

Coin showing Senate House in the Roman Forum
Senate House in the Roman Forum

More Good Reasons Why This Is a Great Guidebook on the Roman Forum

The Roman Forum: From Outpost to Empire in Ten Easy Centuries is unique because I’m a classicist and a guide.  So, on one hand, years of research went into the guidebook.  On the other, being in the field taught me about visitors’ questions and what sparks their curiosity.  While many authors of guidebooks on the Roman Forum possess more academic qualifications than I, very few understand their audience.  But I have mastered the subject matter and can phrase it in a way that helps you understand it too.

My guidebook is also a group effort, as I often invite ancient Romans to speak in my place.  While their voices, agendas, and eras vary wildly, they all contribute local color and greater authenticity to The Roman Forum: From Outpost to Empire.  For example, I quote the long-lived and miserly Marcus Cato (243 – 149 B.C.), who mused on the Latin language and the benefits of starving disobedient servants; Augustus’s celebrated court poet Virgil (1st century B.C.) has his say; Virgil’s contemporary Frontinus, Director of Imperial Rome’s Water Works, contributes to the discourse; and Jerome (early 5th century A.D.) makes star appearance to bemoan Rome’s decline.  They (and myriad other ancient writers) describe their experiences, memories, knowledge of the Roman Forum.

Aren’t There a Lot of  Guidebooks on the Roman Forum Already?

Well… yes!  For example, the Blue Guide’s Rome devotes a whoppin’ big eighteen pages (photos and maps included) to the site.  Berlitz’s Archeological Guide of Rome summarizes one thousand years of architecture, culture, and history in a single chapter.  Readers laud the Oxford Archaeological Guide for its ability to bring antiquity to life.  But the Roman Forum constitutes a minor fraction of the Guide.  Readers also criticize it for the poor quality of its maps and photos.  These are oversights that my guidebook, The Roman Forum: From Outpost to Empire avoids, as this random page of a color copy shows you.

Guidebook the Roman Forum

And of course, there’s David Watkin’s guidebook The Roman Forum, which was already stale when it was published in 2009.  The author conveys no enthusiasm for the site.  He avoids discussing recent discoveries.  And he has eliminated quotes and footnotes.  Furthermore, he does not use chronological order; he gives no general context to the monuments; there are no maps; and there are no illustrations of the monuments being discussed.  Given that my book The Roman Forum: From Outpost to Empire in Ten Easy Centuries commits none of these errors, would I be exaggerating if I said that it fills a niche?

So, the Answer is Yes. This is the Guidebook on the Roman Forum!

If you’re dreaming of visiting Rome and you want to explore the ancient world through the lens of the Roman Forum, pick up The Roman Forum: From Outpost to Empire in Ten Easy Centuries!  Instead you’re a history buff with no intention of leaving the living-room couch?  Order this book!  You’re a teacher and you’re looking for fun material that will expose your students to one of the most important archeological areas in the Western world?  This book is for you and them!  Don’t listen to me!  Listen to the readers who have left their comments on Amazon:

“This is the most accessible guide to Ancient Rome that I’ve ever seen. The author’s enthusiasm and personality shine through the words and bring the Roman Forum back to life. Highly recommend!”

“I didn’t know much about Rome or the Forum before I picked up this book. I was intimidated by the volume … and I prepared myself for a deep historical dig through dates, emperors, and facts I wouldn’t remember. But I should have guessed by the tongue and cheek title of this book which evokes 1970s late night advertising, The Roman Forum: From Outpost to Empire in Ten Easy Centuries, would be something surprisingly different.”

Daniella Hunt at the Roman Forum with Guidebook

“I was hooked and found it like a walk with a traveling companion rather than a dry treatise. Daniella Hunt takes the reader on an easy-going, and often hilarious, journey through Roman history. She presents major historical themes and details in a relaxed, conversational style that not only makes the history accessible but provides concise historical context that makes Rome relatable to readers today.”

“This book is a priceless companion to anyone who is going to tour the Forum or anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of Roman history.”

If you’d like to order a copy for yourself, your school’s library, or for a friend, please follow one of these links:

Click this link for a paperback of The Roman Forum: From Outpost to Empire in Ten Easy Centuries in color.

Follow this link for a paperback of The Roman Forum: From Outpost to Empire in Ten Easy Centuries in black and white.

Click here instead if you’d like The Roman Forum: From Outpost to Empire in Ten Easy Centuries in Kindle.

Thank you, gratias ago, and grazie!  I look forward to seeing you in the Roman Forum!

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