Wonders of Man The Colosseum HC Newsweek Peter Quennell 1978


SKU: 18062 Category:


The Colosseum, Hardcover
by Quennel. Peter, Editors Of Newsweek

Selections from literary works inspired by the ruin and reproductions of works of art accompany an illustrated history of the vast monument.

The story of the Colosseum
Roma Resurgens
The bloody spectacle
Pagan & Christian
Twilight of the Eternal City
Poets, popes & patriots
The Romantic ruin
While stands the Colosseum
The Colosseum in literature

Publisher’s full brown cloth with a gilt outline of the Colosseum on the front cover and gilt lettering on spine. Profusely illustrated with color photographs.

Publisher- Newsweek
Hardcover- 176 pages
ISBN-10 0882250000
Weight 2.18 pounds

Beautifully illustrated, this coffee table book details the history of the Amphitheatre of Vespasion from its building until the 20th century within the context of the history of Rome. The early portions on Rome from the Flavians to its forced Christianization are particularly well written, the author adducing enough illustrative anecdotes to make the reading of it quite entertaining.

You will likely think that there will be a preface on Nero’s Golden House, a chapter on Vespasian and his sons and the construction of the Colosseum, a chapter on the types of gladiators, one on other kinds of games and events, another on the persecution of the Christians, and a chapter on the Flavian theater’s twilight with maybe an epilogue on how the Colosseum was used in the Middle Ages. Instead, Peter Quennell makes quick work of the heyday of the Colosseum (three chapters) and focuses much of his attention on the Colosseum and the surrounding city after the Roman Empire (four or so chapters). Much of what is written, in fact, has to do more with the history of the city, touching only tangentially on the great amphitheater.

But the book still earns four stars from me because the approach is so unusual. There are plenty of books on the Colosseum, but I wonder how many will tell you that Benvenuto Cellini and a necromancer summoned a horde of demons there, or that countless English romantics insisted on viewing it under a full moon, or that naturalists chronicled the many flowers and trees growing all over it, or that it was believed you could contract Roman fever if you stayed there too long? If you want a good feel for how the Colosseum fared after the fall of the Roman empire, this is the book for you.

Finally, the literary selections at the end of the book were delightful, including the likes of Martial (the only contemporary of the amphitheater), Byron, Longfellow, and George Bernard Shaw, all giving a unique experience of one of the grandest edifices ever built.


Minor wear to dust jacket. Slight yellowing to page edges. Binding is good.