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Pompeii: Daily Life in an Ancient Roman City

Explore a fabled city, frozen in time and buried for centuries, and gain a riveting and unprecedented view of life as it was lived in ancient Roman times.
Pompeii: Daily Life in an Ancient Roman City is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 129.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from In depth and interesting! This is an informative, well laid out and interesting course on the history of Pompeii. I plan to visit in the future, and this will make the trip much more meaningful. It would be even better if I could take a tour there with the lecturer, Steven Tuck.
Date published: 2022-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Money Well Spent For this history buff, this course is thoroughly fascinating. Professor Tuck holds my interest in every one of his lectures. I became aware of Pompeii’s existence and demise when I read The Last Days for Pompeii while in high school in the late 60’s. I was immediately intrigued. Little did I know that just a few short years later I would have the opportunity to visit the site in person. Much later my children were fortunate enough to spend some summers in Italy when they also were taken to the site during their stay. Upon their return they informed me that there have been more excavations since my time there, so naturally when I saw this course I was thrilled. I’m finding Professor Tuck’s curriculum to be exactly what I’d hoped to learn. I had no previous knowledge of Roman history up to this point, but I feel that he has done a good job of providing some basic information pertinent to this class. His delivery and explanations hit the mark and his photos and depictions give a fabulous view of life during that period in Italy. I would definitely recommend investing in this lecture series.
Date published: 2021-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pompeii very interesting and informative Interesting topic, great pictures, enthusiastic lecturer.
Date published: 2021-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful visit on DVD This DVD set was very interesting and informative. It made my visit to Pompeii several years ago a lot more meaningful. Lots of images to view and maps which helped to bring Pompeii to life
Date published: 2021-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic course! Engaging prof and wonderful coverage of the material. Based on this course of Dr. Tuck, I will get his other Great Courses courses!
Date published: 2021-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic The course was fantastic, whether you want to learn more about Pompeii or are playing to go there. Professor Tuck is very Knowledge and speaks about his first hand experience. I did not know that Pompeii was founded by the Etruscans and the Samnites.
Date published: 2021-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Enjoyable I watched these lectures over the last couple of days and I found them very engaging. Dr. Tuck presents the material clearly and knowledgeable. I like that when he hits atopic about which there is controversy he presents that controversy and then his take on it. I was wondering where I should go for a vacation after Covid and I think this course made up my mind for me.
Date published: 2021-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful Reexamination of a Favorite Topic When we were children, my younger sister and I got our hands on a copy of National Geographic from 1967. Our favorite article was about Pompeii, of which we knew nothing. The pictures of the city, and especially of the plaster casts of bodies, captured our imaginations. Years later we traveled together to Italy to celebrate her 50th birthday. We saw Sicily and could have gone to Rome, but we both passed up Rome for Pompeii. We had to see it for ourselves. It was the trip of a lifetime, and the fulfillment of a childhood ambition. This series of lectures has revived those feelings for me, and shown me so much more than I actually was aware of at the site. Now I may have to go back, now that I have more knowledge of what I am seeing! Thank you!
Date published: 2021-03-05
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In the 24 enthralling lectures of Pompeii: Daily Life in an Ancient Roman City, eminent classicist and Professor Steven L. Tuck resurrects the long-lost lives of aristocrats, merchants, slaves, and other individuals from this imperial Roman city-made famous for its demise after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. The result is an unprecedented view of life as it was lived in this ancient culture and an opportunity to discover intriguing details that lay buried for centuries.


Steven L. Tuck
Steven L. Tuck

We're going to introduce the visual markers that serve to tell Romans about class interaction and the importance of urban spaces that create and impose Roman imperial identity and serve in ways that we would use literate works.


Miami University

Professor Steven L. Tuck is Professor of Classics at Miami University. After earning his B.A. in History and Classics at Indiana University, he received his Ph.D. in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. He held the postdoctoral Arthur and Joyce Gordon Fellowship in Latin epigraphy at The Ohio State University.

An esteemed teacher, Professor Tuck received the 2013 E. Phillips Knox Teaching Award, Miami University’s highest honor for innovative and effective undergraduate teaching. In addition, the Archaeological Institute of America, North America’s oldest and largest organization devoted to archaeology, presented him with its Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2014. He also has been named a Distinguished Scholar and an Altman Faculty Scholar at Miami University.

Professor Tuck has conducted archaeological fieldwork and research in Italy, Greece, England, and Egypt. He has directed more than a dozen study tours in Italy, concentrated on the city of Rome and the area around the Bay of Naples, including Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Island of Capri. He has given more than 50 public lectures, including as a national lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America.

Professor Tuck is the author of numerous articles featured in international journals on such topics as the lives of sailors in the Roman navy, the schedule of gladiatorial games at Pompeii, the decorative program of the amphitheater at Capua, the professional organizations of spectacle performers, Roman sculpture, and triumphal imagery across the ancient Roman world. He is the author of the forthcoming A History of Roman Art, a lavishly illustrated introduction to the topic.

Professor Tuck has taught two previous Great Courses: Pompeii: Daily Life in an Ancient Roman City and Experiencing Rome: A Visual Exploration of Antiquity’s Greatest Empire.

By This Professor

Cities of the Ancient World
Pompeii: Daily Life in an Ancient Roman City
The Architecture of Power: Great Palaces of the Ancient World
The Mysterious Etruscans
Pompeii: Daily Life in an Ancient Roman City


Reflections on and of Pompeii

01: Reflections on and of Pompeii

No archaeological site in the world has such an evocative name as Pompeii. And yet, when most people hear this name, they think of destruction. In this introduction, gain an overview of the course and begin to consider why the remains of Pompeii offer more than just a story of a cataclysm.

33 min
Geology and Geography on the Bay of Naples

02: Geology and Geography on the Bay of Naples

Both the land and humankind helped to shape Pompeii. Examine the violent geological forces that forged the distinctive region of the Bay of Naples, trace its influence on the surrounding geography, and learn about the various cultures that contributed to life in this area.

30 min
The Rediscovery of Vesuvian Lands

03: The Rediscovery of Vesuvian Lands

Archaeological finds from the area were unearthed starting around 1594-centuries after the eruption that buried them. Uncover the history of Pompeii's excavation in the 1700s, from the kings who plundered its artwork to the modern scholars who sought another kind of treasure: information.

29 min
Etruscan Pompeii-5th Century B.C.

04: Etruscan Pompeii-5th Century B.C.

While the last days of Pompeii have attracted popular attention, the city was a thriving cultural center centuries before its destruction. In this lecture, delve deep into Pompeii's remote Etruscan history and explore what life was like in this ancient pre-Roman settlement.

30 min
Samnite Pompeii-2nd Century B.C.

05: Samnite Pompeii-2nd Century B.C.

Centuries after the establishment of Etruscan Pompeii, the city was invaded by a new people, the Samnites. Witness the conquest of the city by these invaders and consider how Pompeii was redefined and expanded by its new inhabitants.

29 min
Building the Roman Colony-80 B.C.

06: Building the Roman Colony-80 B.C.

Encounter the first Roman inhabitants of Pompeii. Learn how Pompeii became a Roman colony and take a tour of the city as viewed through the eyes of two of its chief magistrates.

28 min
Villa of the Papyri and Life with Piso

07: Villa of the Papyri and Life with Piso

Despite its history of conquest and invasion, ancient Pompeii was not all mayhem and military occupation. See a different side of Roman elite culture by visiting one of the grandest and best-preserved private dwellings from the ancient world: the Villa of the Papyri.

29 min
Marriage and Mysteries-Rites of Dionysus

08: Marriage and Mysteries-Rites of Dionysus

In the first of three lectures investigating women's lives in Pompeii, explore the rituals of marriage. Follow along as a Roman girl is initiated into the worship of Dionysus on the eve of her wedding, and then attend the nuptials.

29 min
Eumachia, Public Priestess

09: Eumachia, Public Priestess

Continue your exploration of the lives of Pompeian women as you attend the funeral of a powerful priestess. Learn about her background, achievements, and aspirations, and gain insights into the roles available to women in Roman culture.

29 min
A Female Slave in Pompeii

10: A Female Slave in Pompeii

After examining the exalted life of a priestess, move to the other end of the social scale and follow a day in the life of a slave girl, Chryseis. As she carries out her duties, gain a grasp of the role of the lowliest workers in this culture and trace the contours of everyday life in Pompeii.

28 min
Governing in the 1st Century A.D.

11: Governing in the 1st Century A.D.

What made a Roman city run? Discover the answer to this question by focusing on two levels of officials in Pompeii, the duoviri (chief magistrates) and the aediles (their assistants). Follow these officials as they perform their typical tasks of government....

29 min
Games and Competition for Offices

12: Games and Competition for Offices

One of the most familiar images of ancient Rome is the clash of the gladiators. Go behind the scenes with one Pompeian politician as he plans a gladiatorial spectacle to help launch his son's career.

31 min
Riot in the Amphitheater-A.D. 59

13: Riot in the Amphitheater-A.D. 59

Continue your consideration of the gladiatorial games and learn about a major crisis in Pompeian life: a riot in the amphitheater that was sparked between the city's inhabitants and fans from a rival city. Trace the factors that led to this catastrophe, the event itself, and its aftermath.

30 min
The House of the Tragic Poet

14: The House of the Tragic Poet

Tour the house that was the setting for the famous historical novel The Last Days of Pompeii, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Trace the activities of the owner, guests, and visitors, and consider how the design and artwork of the house reflect the life of prosperous Pompeians....

28 min
Pompeii's Wool Industry

15: Pompeii's Wool Industry

In the first of two lectures exploring the industrial life of Pompeii, enter the world of wool workers by visiting a typical fullonica-the ancient equivalent of a modern dry-cleaner. Investigate the methods, tools, and workspace used by these service people....

29 min
Pompeii's Wine and Vineyards

16: Pompeii's Wine and Vineyards

Continue your consideration of Pompeii's key industries with a tour of two preserved vineyards. Gleaning information from these two farms, as well as handbooks from the day, investigate the process of growing, pressing, and fermenting grapes, and storing wine.

29 min
Earthquake-A.D. 62

17: Earthquake-A.D. 62

In a precursor to the eruption that would later bury the city in A.D. 79, Pompeii experienced a cataclysmic earthquake. Uncover evidence of this quake and look further afield at its effects, including a tsunami that crippled Rome's food supply.

32 min
Rebuilding after the Earthquake

18: Rebuilding after the Earthquake

After the destructive earthquake of A.D. 62, the officials of Pompeii undertook a remarkable rebuilding effort. Survey the structures that post-date this event, and examine what the rebuilding efforts suggest about the changing culture of Pompeii at the time of the quake.

29 min
Wall Paintings in the House of the Vettii

19: Wall Paintings in the House of the Vettii

The House of the Vettii at Pompeii is one of the best-decorated and best-preserved domestic spaces from the ancient Roman world. Explore what the house and its wall paintings can tell us about the former slaves who built a prosperous life there.

30 min
A Pompeian Country Club

20: A Pompeian Country Club

Take a tour of the Praedia of Julia Felix, a large complex that included a remarkable collection of baths, shops, and garden dining rooms, all decorated with an amazing selection of paintings, statues, inscriptions, and furnishings.

30 min
Worshipping the Emperors at Herculaneum

21: Worshipping the Emperors at Herculaneum

When Vesuvius erupted, it also buried Pompeii's neighboring town of Herculaneum. With local priest Aulus Lucius Proculus as your guide, explore the city's public spaces, including the city baths, a wine shop, and a shrine to the Roman emperor.

29 min
Visiting a Villa at Stabiae

22: Visiting a Villa at Stabiae

Perched high atop the cliffs of the Bay of Naples, the spectacular villa at Stabiae offers a unique opportunity to glimpse elite life in ancient Rome. Imagine the life of the privileged residents as you trace the villa's complex architectural design and examine its decor and artwork.

28 min
Pliny Narrates the Eruption of Vesuvius

23: Pliny Narrates the Eruption of Vesuvius

Thanks to the letters of Pliny the Younger, the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79 is the only ancient natural disaster for which we have an eyewitness account. Follow the harrowing narrative of destruction and compare the effects on Pompeii to the experience of the inhabitants of nearby Herculaneum.

30 min
The Bay of Naples after Vesuvius

24: The Bay of Naples after Vesuvius

The majority of Pompeians did not perish in the eruption that buried their city. Examine efforts by the imperial government under the emperor Titus to aid and resettle refugees, and follow the experiences of a family after the eruption.

29 min