The Government of the Roman Empire: A Sourcebook

The Government of the Roman Empire: A Sourcebook

The Government of the Roman Empire: A Sourcebook

The Government of the Roman Empire: A Sourcebook

Synopsis

This book reveals how an empire that stretched from Glasgow to Aswan in Egypt could be ruled from a single city and still survive more than a thousand years. The Government of the Roman Empire is the only sourcebook to concentrate on the administration of the empire, using the evidence of contemporary writers and historians.Specifically designed for students, with extensive cross-referencing, bibliographies and introductions and explanations for each item, this new edition brings the book right up-to-date, and makes it the ideal resource for students of the subject.

Excerpt

The power of Rome, Imperium Romanum, lasted from the traditional foundation date of the city in 753 BC until AD 476, the conventional date of its end in the west, and until the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in AD 1453 in the east. The documents in this book show the Empire at its greatest extent, and at its most confident, during the three centuries from the permanent establishment of one-man rule in 27 BC to the onset of acute problems, military, political and economic, in the third century AD. The establishment of the Principate at the end of the Civil Wars of 49-30 made it possible to adapt existing institutions to the needs of the Empire and to set up new ones, and it was able to emerge through another period of reform and renewal into the fourth century.

Repugnant though many of its features are (the rigid class structure, slaves at the bottom of the heap), the Empire commands respect for its durability and for the effect its existence has had on the language, literature, architecture and law of Europe and elsewhere; it is worth asking how it survived so long. Some answers may be found by examining the machinery devised by the Romans for controlling the Empire (Chapters 2-4); more by considering changing attitudes towards Rome's subjects and the way some of them came to feel about Rome (Chapters 7-9).

In itself, the machinery of government looks grossly inadequate even if we allow for the diplomacy that exploited inter-tribal and intercity hostility and remember that the tribes were badly placed to organise a durable resistance, while much of the eastern half of the Empire had long been under alien rule. From Hadrian's Wall in the north to Leuce Acra on the Red Sea was 4,654 km (2,890 miles), and the population of the Empire has been estimated at between fifty and sixty million. Yet the army that kept it was only thirty legions strong in the later second century, about 150,000-180,000 men, with a force

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