Andrew Dalby


This book is the ideal companion for the armchair tourist -- Classical Review

... scholarly and entertaining book about food, sex and the fizz of social life ... -- Humphrey Carpenter in Sunday Times [London]

Rome is a clamouring whirlpool, worried about extending citizenship yet proud of its huge gravitational pull across the whole world ... We move around city and suburb seeing what and who is on sale ... The wafted smells of home cooking drift past us in the clamour of noisy trades; we see the enticing "curtains with price tags" ... The imagined noise and smells took me back to the crowded pavements of Hong Kong as a sort of approximation to the Rome of butchers and fishmongers crowding the public pavements amidst a riot of bleeding flesh and living fish. -- 'Pertinax' in the UNRV Roman Empire Forums

or order from

An evocative survey of the sensory culture of the Roman Empire, showing how the Romans themselves depicted and visualised their food, wine and entertainments in literature and art. This fascinating journey envelops the reader in a world devoted to the titillation and fulfilment of the senses, recapturing the Empire as it was sensed and imagined by those who lived in it. At the same times, Andrew Dalby creates a compelling new approach to the work of many of the best-known Roman poets.

With a graceful, lucid and compelling text enhanced by numerous illustrations and even some original recipes to conjure up the exotic flavours and aromas of Roman literature, Empire of Pleasures has brought pleasure and enlightenment to many readers and has been welcomed by (nearly) everyone with an interest in classical culture.

345 pages. September 2000
37 line drawings, 10 maps
Hardback 0-415-18624-2; paperback 0-415-28073-7. London and New York: Routledge

Selections from the text

Some of the many translated extracts of Latin and Roman literature first published in Empire of Pleasures can be found on this page, often with links to the original Latin and Greek texts.

Additions and corrections

Additions, expansions, afterthoughts and even a few corrections to my books and articles appear regularly on this site. This is the permanent page for Empire of Pleasures and the latest items appear here.


1. Introduction -- Quotations and references -- Source material
2. Imperium sine Fine [Empire without bounds] -- The vices of Empire -- The pleasure of Empire -- Roads and travel
3. Ausonia [Italy] -- The land and its people -- Rome's Italy -- Rome's neighbourhood -- From Rome to Rhegium -- The southern hinterland -- The northern hinterland
4. Vesper [The West] -- Peoples of the West -- Cisalpine Gaul and the mountain provinces -- Transalpine Gaul -- Britain -- Spain -- Africa -- The islands
5. Aurora [The East] -- Becoming Greek -- People of the East: slaves and others -- Transmarine wines -- Greece -- Greek cities and islands -- North from Greece -- Asia and its hinterland -- Syria -- Egypt
6. Barbaricum [Foreign Lands] -- Africa -- Arabia -- Armenia -- Parthia and Persia -- India -- Beyound India -- China -- Scythia and Dacia -- Germany and the far north
7. Saeva Urbs [The Wild City] -- Low Rome -- High Rome -- New Rome
8. The Use of Empire -- The art of dining -- The art of courtship -- The art of being Roman
Notes and references (32 pages)
Bibliography (6 pages)
Index of ancient sources (7 pages)
Index (19 pages)