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The Ordered Day

Quotidian Time and Forms of Life in Ancient Rome

James Ker

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Traces how the day has served as a key organizing concept in Roman culture—and beyond.

How did ancient Romans keep track of time? What constituted a day in ancient Rome was not the same twenty-four hours we know today. In The Ordered Day, James Ker traces how the day served as a key organizing concept, both in antiquity and in modern receptions of ancient Rome.

Romans used the story of how the day emerged as a unit of sociocultural time to give order to their own civic and imperial history. Ancient literary descriptions of people's daily routines articulated distinctive forms of life within the…

Traces how the day has served as a key organizing concept in Roman culture—and beyond.

How did ancient Romans keep track of time? What constituted a day in ancient Rome was not the same twenty-four hours we know today. In The Ordered Day, James Ker traces how the day served as a key organizing concept, both in antiquity and in modern receptions of ancient Rome.

Romans used the story of how the day emerged as a unit of sociocultural time to give order to their own civic and imperial history. Ancient literary descriptions of people's daily routines articulated distinctive forms of life within the social order. And in the imperial period and beyond, outsiders—such as early Christians in their monastic rules and modern antiquarians in books on daily life—ordered their knowledge of Roman life through reworking the day as a heuristic framework.

Scholarly interest in Roman time has recently moved from the larger unit of the year and calendar to smaller units of time, especially in the study of sundials and other timekeeping technologies of the ancient Mediterranean. Through extensive analysis of ancient literary texts and material culture as well as modern daily life handbooks, Ker demonstrates the privileged role that "small time" played, and continues to play, in Roman literary and cultural history. Ker argues that the ordering of the day provided the basis for the organizing of history, society, and modern knowledge about ancient Rome. For readers curious about daily life in ancient Rome as well as for students and scholars of Roman history and Latin literature, The Ordered Day provides an accessible and fascinating account of the makings of the Roman day and its relationship to modern time structures.

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The Ordered Day

James Ker

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Reviews

Reviews

James Ker is a confident and skilled storyteller, and The Ordered Day is a fun and satisfying read in a way that academic books rarely are. Working within a generously informed and cohesive methodology, Ker tracks how the Roman day has reverberated in subsequent reception as modernity came to grips with its own concerns in relation to classical heritage. This deeply learned and vividly accessible volume should be recommended reading for undergraduate and graduate students.

What Dohrn-van Rossum famously did for the medieval hour, Ker here does for the Roman day, the smallest of the nature-based units of time. Consciously seeking to avoid previous books' tendencies to cherry-pick sources with little methodological rigor, Ker provides an authoritative and astute analysis set within a strong sociological framework. This book will attract a wide range of scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and history of science.

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Book Details

Release Date
Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
480
ISBN
9781421445175
Illustration Description
18 b&w photos
Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Acknowledgments
Note on translations
Introduction
Part I: Ordering History
1. In Search of Palamedes
2. The Long-Legged Fly
3. Telling Roman Time
Part II: Ordering Lives
4. Days in the

List of illustrations
Acknowledgments
Note on translations
Introduction
Part I: Ordering History
1. In Search of Palamedes
2. The Long-Legged Fly
3. Telling Roman Time
Part II: Ordering Lives
4. Days in the Life
5. Three Patterns to Live By
6. Epicurean Days? Cicero and Horace
7. Literary Days: Martial and Pliny the Younger
8. Today in Retrospect: Seneca and Marcus Aurelius
Part III: Ordering Knowledge
9. Christian Roman Days
10. La Vie Quodidienne a Rome
11. Reading Roman Days in Modern Times
Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Index of Passages
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

James Ker

James Ker is a professor of classical studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Deaths of Seneca and the coeditor of The Values of Nighttime in Classical Antiquity: Between Dusk and Dawn.