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The Romans and their World

The Romans and their World: A Short Introduction

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Romans and their World
    Book Description:

    This one-volume history of the Roman world begins with the early years of the republic and carries the story nearly a thousand years forward to 476, when Romulus Augustus, the last Western Roman emperor, was deposed. Brian Campbell, respected scholar and teacher, presents a fascinating and wide-ranging introduction to Rome, drawing on an array of ancient sources and covering topics of interest to readers with little prior background in Roman history as well as those already familiar with the great civilization.Campbell explores several themes, including the fall of the republic, the impact of colorful and diverse emperors on imperial politics, the administrative structure of empire, and the Roman army and how warfare affected the Roman world. He also surveys cultural and social life, including religion and the rise of Christianity. Generously enhanced with maps and illustrations, this book is a rich and inspiring account of a mighty civilization and the citizens who made it so.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-17215-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-x)
  4. Plates
    (pp. None)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Becoming Master of Italy
    (pp. 1-23)

    With hindsight and patriotic fervour the historian Livy reflected on the advantages of the site of Rome with its hills and the river Tiber:

    With good reason did gods and men choose this site for founding a city; the hills promote health, the river (Tiber) is advantageous since along it are brought foodstuffs from inland areas and along it seaborne produce is received (in the city); it is convenient to the advantage of the sea but is not exposed to the dangers of enemy fleets by being too close; it is in the centre of the districts of Italy and...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Conquering the Mediterranean
    (pp. 24-44)

    Rome’s dealings with Carthage mark her first military intervention outside Italy. In 264 bc the Mamertini (renegade Roman mercenaries who had seized Messina in Sicily) appealed to Rome against Syracuse, though some had wanted to appeal to Carthage. Although the Romans were becoming suspicious of the Carthaginians, they had negotiated previous pacts with them in 507, 348 and 278, and although some senators were reluctant to get involved in such a disreputable case, the people voted for war against Carthage nevertheless. To some extent the popular view was probably influenced by hopes of booty. According to Polybius, the Romans were...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Transformation of Rome
    (pp. 45-63)

    ‘The power that each part (of the political system) has in blocking the others or co-operating with them is such that their working together is sufficient to meet all emergencies, with the result that it is impossible to discover a better form of constitution than this’ (6.18). In this famous summary of the working of Roman government Polybius noted elements of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, and in his view the result was a successful union. Certainly in the early third century bc there was a period of comparative stability when the upper classes worked largely in harmony and the mass...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Sewer of Romulus
    (pp. 64-92)

    According to the historian Sallust the most important reason for the decline and fall of the traditional form of government in Rome was the grasping greed and personal ambition of members of the ruling class, who selfishly kept the fruits of empire for themselves regardless of the misery of the plebs, and in their ambition to advance personal careers by whatever means were indifferent to the public good. As a partisan of Julius Caesar and failed politician of dubious morality who had been expelled from the senate and was later accused of corruption, Sallust had a realistic insight into the...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Augustus and the New Order
    (pp. 93-119)

    The battle of Actium ushered in a new era of historical writing, or so it seemed to later writers trying to piece together a credible history of the rule of the early emperors. On the one hand there was much useful information, many contemporary writers, and unusually the words of the main protagonist. Augustus left to posterity a brief autobiographical memoir, ‘The Achievements of the Divine Augustus’ (Res Gestae Divi Augusti), to be inscribed outside his mausoleum in Rome and at various centres in the empire. Addressing Roman citizens, he justified his career through a statement of what he had...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Running the Empire
    (pp. 120-141)

    Tiberius (r. ad 14–37) rapidly lost the trust that Augustus had built up with the upper classes. He had good intentions to start with, great respect for the law, and tried to encourage independent judgement in the senate. But he failed to preserve the consistency and demeanour that might have made this work. Dour and unpredictable, he overestimated the senate’s ability to play the role he wanted. In military terms the reign got off to a bad start with serious mutinies, partly due to the soldiers’ uncertainty after the death of Augustus. Then Germanicus, Tiberius’s adopted son, conducted short...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Soldiers and Wars
    (pp. 142-165)

    Augustus had expressed an aggressive definition of peace ‘won by victories’ throughout the empire of the Roman people (Res Gestae13). The Greek orator and philosopher Dio Chrysostomos (‘the Golden Mouth’) from Prusa in Bithynia ( 40/50), in a speech about kingship referring to the Roman Empire, took up the same kind of theme: ‘Those who are trained to make war most effectively are most able to live in peace.’ He went on to compare the emperor and his loyal soldiers to a shepherd and his guard dogs protecting the flocks (Oration1.28). This was certainly an idealistic view...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT The World of Imperial Rome
    (pp. 166-194)

    ‘Like a well-swept and enclosed yard … the entire world speaks in unison, more clearly than a chorus; and it harmonizes so well under its director-in-chief that it joins in praying that this Empire may last for ever’. The affluent Greek lecturer Aelius Aristides expresses an ideal view of the unifying force of the Roman Empire (Lewis and Reinhold, 1990, vol. II, pp. 23–4). The reality was that the Romans bound their territories together inconsistently and unevenly by granting citizenship to individuals or groups. The next stage was to make these citizens and others as Roman as possible. It...

  14. CHAPTER NINE Crisis and Recovery
    (pp. 195-215)

    The period after the murder of Severus Alexander in 235 to 284 is characterized by the large number of emperors and pretenders, the brevity of their reigns, and the fact that only Claudius Gothicus avoided a violent end (and he died of plague). Maximinus demonstrates the changed emphasis; he had risen through the ranks of the army as a soldier’s man, and when he raised revolt against Severus Alexander in 235 chose to stay with his army on the Rhine, where he actually fought in the battle-line. However, he failed to win over the senatorial class who resented his lowly...

  15. CHAPTER TEN The Christian Empire
    (pp. 216-248)

    Events were soon to show that the arrangements for passing on power were deeply flawed. In the aftermath of Diocletian’s retirement in 305, Constantine, the love child of Constantius and the ex-barmaid Helena, joined his father, the new Augustus in the west, and when Constantius died at York in 306, the army declared Constantine Augustus. However, after negotiations Galerius the senior Augustus accepted him as Caesar with Severus as Augustus in the west. Further disruption followed when Maxentius, the son of Maximian, made a bid for power and asked his father to resume the role of Augustus. In this violently...

  16. Suggested Reading
    (pp. 249-269)
  17. Index
    (pp. 270-286)