A History of the Roman People

A History of the Roman People

A History of the Roman People

A History of the Roman People

Excerpt

This book examines the historical evolution of Rome, from its earliest beginnings as a cluster of mud-hut villages on the seven hills to its days of glory as an empire embracing the entire Mediterranean region and huge segments of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The survey of the prehistoric period in Italy and the discussion of Etruscan civilization were deemed an essential introduction to our subject, for the birth of Rome was not a precipitate phenomenon but the almost inevitable result of a long process -- the beginning of which antedated by many centuries the legendary founding of the city itself.

Some readers may deplore the decision to end the book with the death of Constantine the Great. But an adequately detailed analysis of the fourth and fifth centuries, though significant and instructive, would have extended the book to a virtually unmanageable length. And which would have been the most suitable stopping point? The death of Theodosius the Great in 395? The deposition of Romulus Agustulus in 476? The death of Justinian I in 565? The reign of Heraclius I (575-642)? Or the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453? A discussion of such events properly belongs -- not to a history of the Roman people -- but to the Late Roman Empire and the Middle Ages.

The disintegration of the Roman Empire has been attributed by various scholars to numerous single causes: soil erosion, slavery, rampant immorality, despotism, bureaucracy. Some of these "causes" are obviously absurd -- all, taken singly, inadequate. The main objection is that not enough emphasis is placed on the Greco-Roman Empire in the East, which became the center and fulcrum of late Roman political and . . .

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