Pompeii: Daily Life in an Ancient Roman City

Rated 5 out of 5 by from First-rate Detective Work and Analysis Dr. Steven Tuck is an engaging lecturer from the word go! He demonstrates great organization, logical analysis, and perceptive correlation of varied evidence to give students information about how Pompeiians lived before their city was tragically destroyed in a volcanic cataclysm. He also provides insights into the amazing lives and work of archaeologists and historians. The professor puts disparate clues together convincingly, with compassion, with enthusiasm, and with wit. The lives of individuals are presented in such a way that they seem like real people; e.g., the former slave proud to operate his own laundry, the civic benefactor nicknamed "The Cow," and the pioneering priestess who raised the general status of women. Dr. Tuck must work from notes or prompts because he never loses the thread of each given lecture's topic, yet his manner always seems relaxed, personal, and close to conversational. The study of Pompeii is used to reveal broader description, too, of the Roman Empire of which it was a important part. The studio set and the professor's wardrobe are pleasant, understated, and non-distracting. Illustrations accompanying the lectures are among the most helpful in the nearly 100 Great Courses I've studied, largely because Dr. Tuck took many of the photographs himself on-site, which he can unpack and analyze in great detail. Excellent maps and computer animations are also worthy of mention. All in all, this is a wonderful course, which I recommend wholeheartedly.
Date published: 2020-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Puts you right in the life of Pompeii I am loving these lectures, enjoying the history and the visual guide through Pompeii and ancient life. Great photos and very engaging. I look forward to watching other lectures by Mr. Tuck. I will probably re watch this lecture series in the future.
Date published: 2020-10-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fabulous course! POMPEII: DAILY LIFE is an absolutely brilliant course. Prof. Tuck's knowledge of the ancient world is impressive and his enthusiasm is infectious. I have developed an appreciation for just how clever the ancient Romans were and how complex their society was. I look forward to taking other courses from Steven Tuck.
Date published: 2020-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ancient Rome alive The lecturer is fluent and enthusiastic about Pompeii. A wonderful ‘time capsule’ that gives insight into our cultural heritage. The visuals are wonderful and a compliment to lectures. Having been to Pompeii, it gave me deeper appreciation of its long history and importance.
Date published: 2020-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course is fantastic. I feel like I am there in Pompeii every time I venture into the course. The lectures are lively and full of excellent illustrations. This helps you take a trip back in time and travel through the city and surrounding areas.
Date published: 2020-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from while I have toured Pompeii before, Professor Tuck took me to places I had not visited at Pompeii thereby making me want to visit again. Even when touring, I feel the average tourist retains little as to the history given it is often hard hearing the guide or we are distracted...if one pines for knowing more aspects of life 2000 years ago...take the course!
Date published: 2020-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding, detailed look at Pompeii Many courses and texts about Pompeii focus solely on the last days of the city (likewise with Herculaneum). This course looks at how the city developed, what everyday life was like for citizens across a variety of social roles, and how geography impacted those lifestyles. I learned many things that I had not known previously. The lecturer was entertaining and knowledgeable. I watched this series as part of my research for a novel I'm writing. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2020-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great course! love this course, have watched it at least 8 times on the greatcoursesplus so I decided to buy it from the great courses to always have it
Date published: 2020-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent overview of great site Found this as a wonderful follow on to actual visit to Pompeii. Filled in a little more than the tour guide and complemented what was learned at the site. Would be good to update with the latest findings.
Date published: 2020-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive and Fascinating This is one of the top 5 great courses, and if you are interested in Pompeii and especially have visited it, you will enjoy this course. The instructor is excellent and knowledgeable and ocasionally humorous and the 24 lecture format is perfect, so highly recommend it for history lovers and those who may travel to Pompeii or have gone there. If you go there, pay the money for a tour guide, i found it hard to walk on the roads and read the guide books at the same time. Outstanding use of graphics and visual aids throughout the presentation vs a 30 minute lecture, especially relating to geology and what happened both to Pompeii and Herculaneum
Date published: 2020-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb Presentation We bought this sometime ago and I just finished it. Mr. Tuck, as usual, did an excellent job at telling the story of Pompeii from the citizen point of view. I enjoy his personal comments on the subject at hand. Bottom line is he is an engaging lecturer.
Date published: 2020-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Surprising and Fact-Filled I wish I had taken this course before we went to Pompeii Now we must go back! I particularly enjoyed Professor Tuck's focus on individuals such as the slave and the priestess. He gives us an overview of the entire society, a real appreciation for what life was like and how terrifying it must have been to experience the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Date published: 2020-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Been to Pompeii three times and wish I had taken this course before I went. Were informative.
Date published: 2020-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I already knew a fair amount about Pompeii, but this filled in the blanks.
Date published: 2019-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pompeii: Daily Life In an Ancient Roman City This was such and interesting study. Loved the pictures, diagrams and art. Learned more about Roman history than I even expected. Very sound and informative lecture series.
Date published: 2019-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I guess I'll have to return to Pompeii Professor Tuck’s love of Pompeii, language, architecture, and history is obvious from the first lesson to the last. Whether he speaks of wine or slaves, aquaducts or clothing, or the eruption of Vesuvius, listening to him is like having a friend visit with a slew of stories, all told informally but professionally. I visited Pompeii once briefly years ago. I wish I knew then half of what I know now. I guess I’ll just have to return. A well-presented course that I’m sorry I completed it because I enjoyed it and learned so much.
Date published: 2019-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent historical overview I bought this after visiting Pompeii. I've learned so much a return trip is a must. The lecturer clearly explained the different town segments,architecture and way of living If you have any interest in Italian history this course is a must. By devoting 24 lectures to Pompeii a deeper understanding of what the town signifies is achieved.
Date published: 2019-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Visual Aids I have watched only 2 of the lectures but I am really impressed. Dr. Tuck's visual aids are great and really help me to gain more insight into the topic at hand. He is a good lecturer and I even like his humor! I also like the "little book" that accompanies the course, so i can read-up on the lecture material before I actually watch the video.
Date published: 2019-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Kind of TC Course This course is what TC courses should be. Fun to watch, educational, and easy to really get into. I like courses that use extensive visual elements and really cone down on a single topic with information not readily available elsewhere. Dr Tuck’s enthusiasm for his subject is contagious! His photos are excellent and maps, etc. easy to understand. A great course.
Date published: 2019-07-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good info. I've been watching just one lecture at a time because they are putting me to sleep. The info is great though. His coverage feels like it's very thorough... at least for my purposes. His method is well thought out to provide a multi-layer understanding of the culture/history of the Bay of Naples. I just wish it was a little more dynamic. Hindsight, I would have ordered the audio... not sure the visuals add much value.
Date published: 2019-05-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointing I've taken quite a few Great Courses, and this is the first that I felt was not up to par. The lectures were slow, and the visual displays were limited and unsatisfying. There just wasn't very much there.
Date published: 2019-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pompeii My wife and I had an opportunity to visit Pompeii and the museum in Naples 3 years ago. Although we had a local guide It would have been better for us to have taken this course before we went instead of after. This course gave me a much more complete view of Pompeii and the surrounding area than were able to get from a one day visit. Happily there weren't any pictures of Trump during the presentation.
Date published: 2019-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An appropriate title. I originally bought this for my daughter who visited Pompeii while on he honeymoon in Italy. I watched it myself before giving it to her and when it went on sale I bought a copy for myself.
Date published: 2019-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great content for history buffs Presenter has a lot of knowledge in this subject. You can tell the presenter really enjoys this subject, and delivers the course with much enthusiasm. Very detailed accounts of history of area prier to eruption. You feel you really know the people who lived in the area so long ago. Only minor complaint, I would have like to seen a little more detail surrounding actual eruption event. Very good course.
Date published: 2019-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very educational I have always been interested in ancient history. Toured Rome last Spring. Loved the photos of the villas and wall painting in this product. Professor knew his subject very well.
Date published: 2019-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very instructive and enjoyable A great addition after my visit to Pompeii. I really enjoy it.
Date published: 2018-06-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pompeii: Daily Life .... proved to be lifeless. I found neither the subject matter nor the lecturer, were able to captured my interest. While the historical detail was there, the lecturer failed to bring it to life for me.
Date published: 2018-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Marvelous course! I really enjoyed this series of lectures by Professor Tuck. Dr. Tuck is extremely knowledgeable about Pompeii and he is an excellent speaker. He makes the city come alive. He is also quite a natty dresser. Love that navy blue and yellow striped tie. I am sure I will take other courses led by Dr. Tuck.
Date published: 2018-04-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Pompeii: Daily Life in an Ancient Roman City I cannot believe the other reviewers and I watched the same presentation! I have visited Pompeii and watch every documentary I can find on this subject. What I kept thinking as I watched was "this is why people hate history." Sorry, but it just did not work for me.
Date published: 2018-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extensive information! I am a docent touring the traveling Pompeii exhibit so I needed lots of knowledge fast! Most extensive information I have found to date. Loved Dr. Tuck
Date published: 2018-01-13
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Pompeii: Daily Life in an Ancient Roman City
Course Trailer
Reflections on and of Pompeii
1: 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
2: 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
3: 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.
4: 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.
5: 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.
6: 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
7: 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
8: 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
9: 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
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.


University of Michigan


Miami University

About Steven L. Tuck

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.

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