The Legacy of Rome: A New Appraisal

Synopsis

If the grandeur that was Rome has long since vanished, the impact of the Eternal City can still be felt in virtually every corner of Western culture. Students of speech and rhetoric to this day study the works of Cicero for guidance. We find Roman Law setting the model for legal systems from the twelfth century to the present. And Latin itself, far from being a "dead language," lives on not only in the Romance languages, but also in English vocabulary and grammar. Rhetoric, language, law--these are just a small part of the great Roman influence that has lasted throughout the centuries. The Legacy of Rome has long been considered the standard introduction to the achievements of the Roman world. Now in a completely new edition, this classic work brings together the latest scholarship in the field from some of the world's leading classical scholars. Unlike the previous version, which focused on such narrow topics as commerce and administration, the new edition broadens the spectrum of influence, showing the impact, for example, of Roman literature, art, politics, law, and language on western civilization. Jasper Griffin, for instance, looks to the works of Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, and Wordsworth, among others, to trace the lasting influence of the great Roman poet Virgil on the development of poetic forms such as the pastoral, epitomized by Virgil's Eclogues, and the epic poem, exemplified by the Aeneid. A.T. Grafton shows how Renaissance intellectuals such as Machiavelli and Guicciardini looked to Rome's past for political enlightenment, and found models of military strategy in the works of Tacitus and Livy. Editor Richard Jenkyns dispels the misconception of the Romans as purely imitative of the Greeks; he points out such uniquely Roman concepts as jurisprudence and citizenship, and architecture based on the round arch and the vault, as evidence of Roman innovativeness. Other contributors--George A. Kennedy, Robert Feenstra, and Nicholas Purcell--discuss the importance of the study of Roman rhetoric in preparing speakers for public life, the lasting influence of the Justinian code on Western legal development, and the impact on future civilizations of the romanticized notion of an imperial Rome and its magical ruins. Ranging from the pastoral tradition, to the development of the comedy, to the lasting influence of the Latin language, The Legacy of Rome provides a much-needed new appraisal of the richness of the great civilization which gave rise to a large part of Western heritage.

Additional information

Contributors:
Includes content by:
  • R. H. Rouse
  • Charles Davis
  • A. T. Grafton
  • Jasper Griffin
  • Richard Jenkyns
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Oxford
Publication year:
  • 1992