The Romans: From Village to Empire

The Romans: From Village to Empire

The Romans: From Village to Empire

The Romans: From Village to Empire

Synopsis

How did a single village community in the Italian peninsula eventually become one of the mightiest imperial powers the world has ever known? In The Romans, Mary T. Boatwright, Daniel Gargola, and Richard J.A. Talbert tackle this question as they guide readers through a comprehensive sweep of Roman history, ranging from the prehistoric settlements to the age of Constantine. Vividly written and attractively designed with almost 100 illustrations, The Romans expertly unfolds Rome's remarkable evolution from village, to monarchy and then republic, and finally to one-man rule by an emperor whose power at its peak stretched from Scotland to Iraq and the Nile Valley. Firmly grounded in ancient literary and material sources, the book captures and analyzes the outstanding political and military landmarks--from the Punic Wars, to Caesar's conquest of Gaul and his crossing of the Rubicon, to the victory of Octavian over Mark Antony, to Constantine's adoption of Christianity. Here too are some of the most fascinating individuals ever to walk across the world stage, including Hannibal, Mithridates, Pompey, Cicero, Cleopatra, Augustus, Livia, Nero, Marcus Aurelius, and Shapur. The authors bring to life many aspects of Rome's cultural and social history, from the role of women, to literature, entertainments, town-planning, portraiture, and religion. The book incorporates more than 30 maps, mostly produced by the Ancient World Mapping Center; in addition, 22 boxes interspersed throughout feature varied excerpts of writings by Romans themselves. Rome's story is one of history's most remarkable chronicles. The Romans gives marvelous fresh insight into a people's truly monumental achievement--their ambition, glory, and suffering.

Excerpt

The descendants of the first settlers on the hills overlooking a ford across the Tiber River eventually controlled most of Europe, the Near East, and North Africa for centuries. Still today, a millennium and a half later, the legacy of this extraordinary achievement by the Romans exerts a powerful influence in a rich variety of spheres worldwide—not least among them, architecture, art, language, literature, law, and religion. Although the writings and material remains that survive are inevitably no more than a tiny, random sample of what once existed, there is still quite enough to impress and engage us, and to permit a fair degree of insight into many dimensions of the nature and development of Roman civilization. Of course there are aspects— related to politics or strategy or social practices, to name only three areas—which we can never hope to understand fully. Even so, that does not deter a large body of interested inquirers from continuing to formulate questions and discuss answers as part of an ongoing dialogue. This activity has proved especially fruitful since the mid-nineteenth century: From then onwards, at an increasing pace, advances in scholarship, technology, and exploration have hugely improved the control and appreciation of the material at our disposal. These advances have also led to many exciting new discoveries, as well as stimulating ventures into fresh areas of inquiry over a broader range than ever. The expanding pursuit of inquiry, discovery, and (re)evaluation is sure to continue. Current knowledge, interests, and opinions are by no means fixed or exhausted; each generation chooses its own mix of elements in Roman history.

The distinctiveness of this book lies in its synthesis of the Roman state's changing character and expansion from earliest beginnings to the fourth century A.D. It is a book aimed primarily at average college-educated readers who lack prior . . .

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