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Summer Learning Track: Ancient Rome

“The past,” William Faulkner famously wrote, “is never dead. It's not even past.” The influence of ancient Rome today on our cultural and governmental institutions, and its persistence in our imagination, lend weight to Faulkner’s remark.

The Romans produced lasting monuments in architecture, engineering, literature, and philosophy, yet they were also capable of appalling savagery and brutality. They built a far-flung empire that reached into three continents, but it eventually crumbled amid attacks from invaders and bloody successional disputes.

To read the histories of the empire by contemporary writers such as Suetonius and Tacitus is to read a storyline that even Hollywood couldn’t dream up. But while the empire had its share of tyrants (Caligula, Nero) and other bad actors, rulers such as Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius tried to achieve good governance. Marcus’s Meditations are a remarkable record of his private thoughts and a landmark of Stoic philosophy.

To learn more about this fascinating period in history, a good place to start is with primary sources such as Suetonius’s The Twelve Caesars and Tacitus’s Annals. Among the many modern-day histories of ancient Rome and biographies of key figures, those of Adrian Goldsworthy and Anthony Everitt are particularly recommended.

Primary Sources:

The Twelve Caesars, by Suetonius

The Annals, by Tacitus

The Later Roman Empire, by Ammianus Marcellinus

Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius

Oxford Anthology of Roman Literature

The Classical Roman Reader

Secondary Sources:

The Rise of Rome, by Anthony Everitt

Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero, by James Romm

Caesars’ Wives, by Annelise Freisenbruch

Empires and Barbarians: The Fall Of Rome And The Birth Of Europe, by P. J. Heather

The Romans Who Shaped Britain, by Sam Moorhead

How Rome Fell, by Adrian Goldsworthy

Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome, by Anthony Everitt

Constantine: Roman Emperor, Christian Victor, by Paul Stephenson

Caesar: Life of a Colossus, by Adrian Goldsworthy

Augustus: The Life of Rome’s First Emperor, by Anthony Everitt

The Fall of the Roman Empire, by P. J. Heather

Cicero: The Life And Times Of Rome's Greatest Politician, by Anthony Everitt

The World of Rome, by Michael Grant

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon

Documentaries:

I, Caesar: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire

Caligula: Reign of Madness

Julius Caesar

Headless Romans

Julius Caesar
The Roman Empire in the First Century


Amazon Says: This award-winning series takes a fascinating look at the public and private lives of six key men who ruled the Roman Empire. Starting with Julius Caesar, the series charts th more...
Amazon Says: This award-winning series takes a fascinating look at the public and private lives of six key men who ruled the Roman Empire. Starting with Julius Caesar, the series charts the rise and fall of Roman power over 600 years through the lives of six of the most charismatic leaders in world history; Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero, Hadrian, Constantine and Justinian. Their careers were made up of bloody battles and tactical bribery, stunning innovation and profound corruption, dazzling rhetoric and vicious back-stabbing. Together they form a picture of the most sophisticated highs and most brutal lows of the Roman Empire's inception, heyday and decline. The Roman Empire included within its boundaries myriad peoples, cultures and climates. The task of ruling it seems an impossible one, even with today's communication technology. So how was it achieved two thousand years ago? And why has ancient Rome had such a profound influence on western civilization ever since? Using unequalled location footage, previously unseen images and careful re-enactments, this informative and entertaining series brings to life the world of ancient Rome.Writer & Director: Phil Grabsky. Co-Director: Peter Nicholson. Series originally made for the BBC and A&E. less...
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Amazon Says: He ruled for only four years and was dead at age 28. Yet he is one of the most notorious rulers in history. Caligula packed a lot into a very short life. Had he focused his co more...
Amazon Says: He ruled for only four years and was dead at age 28. Yet he is one of the most notorious rulers in history. Caligula packed a lot into a very short life. Had he focused his considerable energies on governing his empire history might have remembered him differently. As it is he is known for perversion and depravity his rule was a legendary frenzy of lunacy murder and lust. Between executions he staged spectacular orgies. He named his favorite horse a consul made love to his sister and declared himself a living god. CALIGULA: REIGN OF MADNESS goes behind the legend to explore the anguished life of the infamous emperor. Discover how the first six months of his rule were marked by clemency and how a violent illness seemingly transformed Caligula into the monster that history remembers. Leading scholars help explore the many contradictions in his life; murderer pervert loving father and devoted son he was all these things and more. Join BIOGRAPHY for the shocking story of Rome's most reviled ruler the bizarre bloodthirsty Caligula. less...
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Amazon Says: Julius Caesar is one of the central figures in Roman history. Rapid promotions from a humble civil servant put him in command of the mighty Roman Legions which completed the more...
Amazon Says: Julius Caesar is one of the central figures in Roman history. Rapid promotions from a humble civil servant put him in command of the mighty Roman Legions which completed the conquests of Gaul and Britain, and established him as a great but bloodthirsty general. However, the politically ambitious Caesar made many enemies and he was assassinated in the Senate House on March 15th, 44 B.C. less...
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Amazon Says: In the back garden of a house in York, England, more than 45 decapitated, Roman-era skeletons are unearthed. This astonishing discovery leads to an unprecedented scientific in more...
Amazon Says: In the back garden of a house in York, England, more than 45 decapitated, Roman-era skeletons are unearthed. This astonishing discovery leads to an unprecedented scientific investigation to identify the remains. Are these men savagely murdered pagan prisoners? Are they soldiers who were killed in battle or executed for crimes against Rome? Modern forensics, archeological sleuthing, and historical records point to a surprising answer. less...
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Amazon Says: Julius Caesar has to be considered one of the most central figures in Roman history. Rapid promotions from a humble civil servant put him in command of the mighty Roman Legio more...
Amazon Says: Julius Caesar has to be considered one of the most central figures in Roman history. Rapid promotions from a humble civil servant put him in command of the mighty Roman Legions which completed the conquests of Gaul and Britain, and established him as a great but bloodthirsty general. less...
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Amazon Says: Two thousand years ago, at the dawn of the first century, the ancient world was ruled by Rome. Through the experiences, memories and writings of the people who lived it, this more...
Amazon Says: Two thousand years ago, at the dawn of the first century, the ancient world was ruled by Rome. Through the experiences, memories and writings of the people who lived it, this series tells the story off that time -- the emperors and slaves, poets and plebians, who wrested order from choas, built the most cosmopolitian society the world had ever seen and shaped the Roman empire in the first century A.D. less...
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The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
Amazon Says: As private secretary to the Emperor Hadrian, the scholar Suetonius had access to the imperial archives and used them (along with eyewitness accounts) to produce one of the mos more...
Amazon Says: As private secretary to the Emperor Hadrian, the scholar Suetonius had access to the imperial archives and used them (along with eyewitness accounts) to produce one of the most colourful biographical works in history. "The Twelve Caesars" chronicles the public careers and private lives of the men who wielded absolute power over Rome, from the foundation of the empire under Julius Caesar and Augustus, to the decline into depravity and civil war under Nero and the recovery that came with his successors. A masterpiece of observation, anecdote and detailed physical description, "The Twelve Caesars" presents us with a gallery of vividly drawn - and all too human - individuals. less...
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The Annals by Tacitus
Amazon Says: Woodman's translation masterfully conveys Tacitus' distinctive and powerful literary style and reflects the best of relevant current scholarship. His introduction provides a w more...
Amazon Says: Woodman's translation masterfully conveys Tacitus' distinctive and powerful literary style and reflects the best of relevant current scholarship. His introduction provides a wealth of insight into the period about which Tacitus wrote, Tacitus himself, and the principles of translation that have shaped this rendering. Includes extensive notes; political, military, and geographical appendices; imperial family trees; suggested further readings; maps; and index. less...
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The Later Roman Empire: A.D. 354-378 by Ammianus Marcellinus
Amazon Says: Ammianus Marcellinus was the last great Roman historian, and his writings rank alongside those of Livy and Tacitus. The Later Roman Empire chronicles a period of twenty-five y more...
Amazon Says: Ammianus Marcellinus was the last great Roman historian, and his writings rank alongside those of Livy and Tacitus. The Later Roman Empire chronicles a period of twenty-five years during Marcellinus' own lifetime, covering the reigns of Constantius, Julian, Jovian, Valentinian I, and Valens, and providing eyewitness accounts of significant military events including the Battle of Strasbourg and the Goth's Revolt. Portraying a time of rapid and dramatic change, Marcellinus describes an Empire exhausted by excessive taxation, corruption, the financial ruin of the middle classes and the progressive decline in the morale of the army. In this magisterial depiction of the closing decades of the Roman Empire, we can see the seeds of events that were to lead to the fall of the city, just twenty years after Marcellinus' death. less...
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Amazon Says: Though the wonders of ancient Roman culture continue to attract interest across the disciplines, it is difficult to find a lively, accessible collection of the full range of t more...
Amazon Says: Though the wonders of ancient Roman culture continue to attract interest across the disciplines, it is difficult to find a lively, accessible collection of the full range of the era's literature in English. The Oxford Anthology of Roman Literature provides a general introduction to the literature of the Roman empire at its zenith, between the second century Bc and the second century Ad. Two features of this extraordinarily fertile period in literary achievement as evidenced by this anthology are immediately and repeatedly clear: how similar the Romans' view of the world was to our own and, perhaps even more obviously, how different it was. Most of the authors included in the anthology wrote in Latin, but as the anthology moves forward in time, relevant Greek texts that reflect the cultural diversity of Roman literary life are also included, something no other such anthology has done in the past. Roman literature was wonderfully creative and diverse, and the texts in this volume were chosen from a broad range of genres: drama, epic, philosophy, satire, lyric poetry, love poetry. By its very nature an anthology can abbreviate and thus obscure the most attractive features of even a masterpiece, so the two editors have not only selected texts that capture the essence of the respective authors, but also have included accompanying introductions and afterwords that will guide the reader in pursuing further reading. The presentations of the selections are enlivened with illustrations that locate the works within the contexts of the world in which they were written and enjoyed. The student and general reader will come away from this learned yet entertaining anthology with a fuller appreciation of the place occupied by literature in the Roman world. less...
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Amazon Says: A collection of the greatest writings from the grandest of empires. From the greek and Italian origins of Rome to the decline and fall of the empire, firsthand accounts speech more...
Amazon Says: A collection of the greatest writings from the grandest of empires. From the greek and Italian origins of Rome to the decline and fall of the empire, firsthand accounts speeches, plays, texts, poetry present ancient Rome in all of its glorious variety. Here you'll find everything under the ancient Roman sun. A ready reference to major Roman figures and ideas. 50 photos. less...
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Amazon Says: NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE KANSAS CITY STAR From Anthony Everitt, the bestselling author of acclaimed biographies of Cicero, Augustus, and Hadrian more...
Amazon Says: NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE KANSAS CITY STAR From Anthony Everitt, the bestselling author of acclaimed biographies of Cicero, Augustus, and Hadrian, comes a riveting, magisterial account of Rome and its remarkable ascent from an obscure agrarian backwater to the greatest empire the world has ever known.   Emerging as a market town from a cluster of hill villages in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C., Rome grew to become the ancient world’s preeminent power. Everitt fashions the story of Rome’s rise to glory into an erudite page-turner filled with lasting lessons for our time. He chronicles the clash between patricians and plebeians that defined the politics of the Republic. He shows how Rome’s shrewd strategy of offering citizenship to her defeated subjects was instrumental in expanding the reach of her burgeoning empire. And he outlines the corrosion of constitutional norms that accompanied Rome’s imperial expansion, as old habits of political compromise gave way, leading to violence and civil war. In the end, unimaginable wealth and power corrupted the traditional virtues of the Republic, and Rome was left triumphant everywhere except within its own borders.   Everitt paints indelible portraits of the great Romans—and non-Romans—who left their mark on the world out of which the mighty empire grew: Cincinnatus, Rome’s George Washington, the very model of the patrician warrior/aristocrat; the brilliant general Scipio Africanus, who turned back a challenge from the Carthaginian legend Hannibal; and Alexander the Great, the invincible Macedonian conqueror who became a role model for generations of would-be Roman rulers. Here also are the intellectual and philosophical leaders whose observations on the art of government and “the good life” have inspired every Western power from antiquity to the present: Cato the Elder, the famously incorruptible statesman who spoke out against the decadence of his times, and Cicero, the consummate orator whose championing of republican institutions put him on a collision course with Julius Caesar and whose writings on justice and liberty continue to inform our political discourse today.   Rome’s decline and fall have long fascinated historians, but the story of how the empire was won is every bit as compelling. With The Rise of Rome, one of our most revered chroniclers of the ancient world tells that tale in a way that will galvanize, inform, and enlighten modern readers. Praise for The Rise of Rome   “Fascinating history and a great read.”—Chicago Sun-Times   “An engrossing history of a relentlessly pugnacious city’s 500-year rise to empire.”—Kirkus Reviews   “Rome’s history abounds with remarkable figures. . . . Everitt writes for the informed and the uninformed general reader alike, in a brisk, conversational style, with a modern attitude of skepticism and realism.”—The Dallas Morning News   “[A] lively and readable account . . . Roman history has an uncanny ability to resonate with contemporary events.”—Maclean’s   “Elegant, swift and faultless as an introduction to his subject.”—The Spectator “[An] engaging work that will captivate and inform from beginning to end.”—Booklist less...
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Amazon Says: From acclaimed classical historian, author of Ghost on the Throne (“Gripping . . . the narrative verve of a born writer and the erudition of a scholar” —Daniel  Mendels more...
Amazon Says: From acclaimed classical historian, author of Ghost on the Throne (“Gripping . . . the narrative verve of a born writer and the erudition of a scholar” —Daniel  Mendelsohn) and editor of The Landmark Arrian:The Campaign of Alexander (“Thrilling” —The New York Times Book Review), a  high-stakes drama full of murder, madness, tyranny, perversion, with the sweep of history on the grand scale. At the center, the tumultuous life of Seneca, ancient Rome’s preeminent writer and philosopher, beginning with banishment in his fifties and subsequent appointment as tutor to twelve-year-old Nero, future emperor of Rome. Controlling them both, Nero’s mother, Julia Agrippina the Younger, Roman empress, great-granddaughter of the Emperor Augustus, sister of the Emperor Caligula, niece and fourth wife of Emperor Claudius.             James Romm seamlessly weaves together the life and written words, the moral struggles, political intrigue, and bloody vengeance that enmeshed Seneca the Younger in the twisted imperial family and the perverse, paranoid regime of Emperor Nero, despot and madman. Romm writes that Seneca watched over Nero as teacher, moral guide, and surrogate father, and, at seventeen, when Nero abruptly ascended to become emperor of Rome, Seneca, a man never avid for political power became, with Nero, the ruler of the Roman Empire. We see how Seneca was able to control his young student, how, under Seneca’s influence, Nero ruled with intelligence and moderation, banned capital punishment, reduced taxes, gave slaves the right to file complaints against their owners, pardoned prisoners arrested for sedition. But with time, as Nero grew vain and disillusioned, Seneca was unable to hold sway over the emperor, and between Nero’s mother, Agrippina—thought to have poisoned her second husband, and her third, who was her uncle (Claudius), and rumored to have entered into an incestuous relationship with her son—and Nero’s father, described by Suetonius as a murderer and cheat charged with treason, adultery, and incest, how long could the young Nero have been contained?             Dying Every Day is a portrait of Seneca’s moral struggle in the midst of madness and excess. In his treatises, Seneca preached a rigorous ethical creed, exalting heroes who defied danger to do what was right or embrace a noble death. As Nero’s adviser, Seneca was presented with a more complex set of choices, as the only man capable of summoning the better aspect of Nero’s nature, yet, remaining at Nero’s side and colluding in the evil regime he created. Dying Every Day is the first book to tell the compelling and nightmarish story of the philosopher-poet who was almost a king, tied to a tyrant—as Seneca, the paragon of reason, watched his student spiral into madness and whose descent saw five family murders, the Fire of Rome, and a savage purge that destroyed the supreme minds of the Senate’s golden age. less...
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Amazon Says: In scandals and power struggles obscured by time and legend, the wives, mistresses, mothers, sisters, and daughters of the Caesars have been popularly characterized as heartle more...
Amazon Says: In scandals and power struggles obscured by time and legend, the wives, mistresses, mothers, sisters, and daughters of the Caesars have been popularly characterized as heartless murderers, shameless adulteresses, and conniving politicians in the high dramas of the Roman court. Yet little has been known about who they really were and their true roles in the history-making schemes of imperial Rome’s ruling Caesars—indeed, how they figured in the rise, decline, and fall of the empire. Now, in Caesars’ Wives: Sex, Power, and Politics in the Roman Empire, Annelise Freisenbruch pulls back the veil on these fascinating women in Rome’s power circles, giving them the chance to speak for themselves for the first time. With impeccable scholarship and arresting storytelling, Freisenbruch brings their personalities vividly to life, from notorious Livia and scandalous Julia to Christian Helena. Starting at the year 30 BC, when Cleopatra, Octavia, and Livia stand at the cusp of Rome’s change from a republic to an autocracy, Freisenbruch relates the story of Octavian and Marc Antony’s clash over the fate of the empire—an archetypal story that has inspired a thousand retellings—in a whole new light, uncovering the crucial political roles these first "first ladies" played. From there, she takes us into the lives of the women who rose to power over the next five centuries—often amid violence, speculation, and schemes—ending in the fifth century ad, with Galla Placidia, who was captured by Goth invaders (and married to one of their kings). The politics of Rome are revealed through the stories of Julia, a wisecracking daughter who disgraced her father by getting drunk in the Roman forum and having sex with strangers on the speaker’s platform; Poppea, a vain and beautiful mistress who persuaded the emperor to kill his mother so that they could marry; Domitia, a wife who had a flagrant affair with an actor before conspiring in her husband’s assassination; and Fausta, a stepmother who tried to seduce her own stepson and then engineered his execution—afterward she was boiled to death as punishment. Freisenbruch also tells a fascinating story of how the faces of these influential women have been refashioned over the millennia to tell often politically motivated stories about their reigns, in the process becoming models of femininity and female power. Illuminating the anxieties that persist even today about women in or near power and revealing the female archetypes that are a continuing legacy of the Roman Empire, Freisenbruch shows the surprising parallels of these iconic women and their public and private lives with those of our own first ladies who become part of the political agenda, as models of comportment or as targets for their husbands’ opponents. Sure to transform our understanding of these first ladies, the influential women who witnessed one of the most gripping, significant eras of human history, Caesars’ Wives is a significant new chronicle of an era that set the foundational story of Western Civilization and hung the mirror into which every era looks to find its own reflection. less...
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Amazon Says: Empires and Barbarians presents a fresh, provocative look at how a recognizable Europe came into being in the first millennium AD. With sharp analytic insight, Peter Heather e more...
Amazon Says: Empires and Barbarians presents a fresh, provocative look at how a recognizable Europe came into being in the first millennium AD. With sharp analytic insight, Peter Heather explores the dynamics of migration and social and economic interaction that changed two vastly different worlds--the undeveloped barbarian world and the sophisticated Roman Empire--into remarkably similar societies and states. The book's vivid narrative begins at the time of Christ, when the Mediterranean circle, newly united under the Romans, hosted a politically sophisticated, economically advanced, and culturally developed civilization--one with philosophy, banking, professional armies, literature, stunning architecture, even garbage collection. The rest of Europe, meanwhile, was home to subsistence farmers living in small groups, dominated largely by Germanic speakers. Although having some iron tools and weapons, these mostly illiterate peoples worked mainly in wood and never built in stone. The farther east one went, the simpler it became: fewer iron tools and ever less productive economies. And yet ten centuries later, from the Atlantic to the Urals, the European world had turned. Slavic speakers had largely superseded Germanic speakers in central and Eastern Europe, literacy was growing, Christianity had spread, and most fundamentally, Mediterranean supremacy was broken. Bringing the whole of first millennium European history together, and challenging current arguments that migration played but a tiny role in this unfolding narrative, Empires and Barbarians views the destruction of the ancient world order in light of modern migration and globalization patterns. less...
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Amazon Says: A biographical history of the Romans who conquered and dominated Britain, based on the latest archaeological evidence and original source material. Here are the stories of the more...
Amazon Says: A biographical history of the Romans who conquered and dominated Britain, based on the latest archaeological evidence and original source material. Here are the stories of the people who built and ruled Roman Britain, from the eagle-bearer who leaped off Caesar’s ship into the waves at Walmer in 55BC to the last cavalry units to withdraw from the island under their dragon standards in the early fifth century AD. Through the lives of its generals and governors, this book explores the narrative of Britannia as an integral and often troublesome part of Rome’s empire, a hard-won province whose mineral wealth and agricultural prosperity made it crucial to the stability of the West. But Britannia did not exist in a vacuum, and the authors set it in an international context to give a vivid account of the pressures and events that had a profound impact on its people and its history. The authors discuss the lives and actions of the Roman occupiers against the backdrop of an evolving landscape, where Iron Age shrines were replaced by marble temples and industrial-scale factories and granaries sprang up across the countryside. 42 color, 30 b&w less...
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Amazon Says: In AD 200, the Roman Empire seemed unassailable, its vast territory accounting for most of the known world. By the end of the fifth century, Roman rule had vanished in western more...
Amazon Says: In AD 200, the Roman Empire seemed unassailable, its vast territory accounting for most of the known world. By the end of the fifth century, Roman rule had vanished in western Europe and much of northern Africa, and only a shrunken Eastern Empire remained. In his account of the fall of the Roman Empire, prizewinning author Adrian Goldsworthy examines the painful centuries of the superpower’s decline. Bringing history to life through the stories of the men, women, heroes, and villains involved, the author uncovers surprising lessons about the rise and fall of great nations.This was a period of remarkable personalities, from the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius to emperors like Diocletian, who portrayed themselves as tough, even brutal, soldiers. It was a time of revolutionary ideas, especially in religion, as Christianity went from persecuted sect to the religion of state and emperors. Goldsworthy pays particular attention to the willingness of Roman soldiers to fight and kill each other. Ultimately, this is the story of how an empire without a serious rival rotted from within, its rulers and institutions putting short-term ambition and personal survival over the wider good of the state. less...
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Amazon Says: Acclaimed author Anthony Everitt, whose Augustus was praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “a narrative of sustained drama and skillful analysis,” is the rare wri more...
Amazon Says: Acclaimed author Anthony Everitt, whose Augustus was praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “a narrative of sustained drama and skillful analysis,” is the rare writer whose work both informs and enthralls. In Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome–the first major account of the emperor in nearly a century–Everitt presents a compelling, richly researched biography of the man whom he calls arguably “the most successful of Rome’s rulers.” Born in A.D. 76, Hadrian lived through and ruled during a tempestuous era, a time when the Colosseum was opened to the public and Pompeii was buried under a mountain of lava and ash. Everitt vividly recounts Hadrian’s thrilling life, in which the emperor brings a century of disorder and costly warfare to a peaceful conclusion while demonstrating how a monarchy can be compatible with good governance. Hadrian was brave and astute–despite his sometimes prickly demeanor–as well as an accomplished huntsman, poet, and student of philosophy. What distinguished Hadrian’s rule, according to Everitt, were two insights that inevitably ensured the empire’s long and prosperous future: He ended Rome’s territorial expansion, which had become strategically and economically untenable, by fortifying her boundaries (the many famed Walls of Hadrian), and he effectively “Hellenized” Rome by anointing Athens the empire’s cultural center, thereby making Greek learning and art vastly more prominent in Roman life. With unprecedented detail, Everitt illuminates Hadrian’s private life, including his marriage to Sabina–a loveless, frequently unhappy bond that bore no heirs–and his enduring yet doomed relationship with the true love of his life, Antinous, a beautiful young Bithynian man. Everitt also covers Hadrian’s war against the Jews, which planted the seeds of present-day discord in the Middle East. Despite his tremendous legacy–including a virtual “marble biography” of still-standing structures–Hadrian is considered one of Rome’s more enigmatic emperors. But making splendid use of recently discovered archaeological materials and his own exhaustive research, Everitt sheds new light on one of the most important figures of the ancient world. less...
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Amazon Says: A fascinating survey of the life and enduring legacy of perhaps the greatest and most unjustly ignored of the Roman emperors-written by a richly gifted historian. In 312 A.D more...
Amazon Says: A fascinating survey of the life and enduring legacy of perhaps the greatest and most unjustly ignored of the Roman emperors-written by a richly gifted historian. In 312 A.D., Constantine-one of four Roman emperors ruling a divided empire-marched on Rome to establish his control. On the eve of the battle, a cross appeared to him in the sky with an exhortation, "By this sign conquer." Inscribing the cross on the shields of his soldiers, Constantine drove his rivals into the Tiber and claimed the imperial capital for himself. Under Constantine, Christianity emerged from the shadows, its adherents no longer persecuted. Constantine united the western and eastern halves of the Roman Empire. He founded a new capital city, Constantinople. Thereafter the Christian Roman Empire endured in the East, while Rome itself fell to the barbarian hordes. Paul Stephenson offers a nuanced and deeply satisfying account of a man whose cultural and spiritual renewal of the Roman Empire gave birth to the idea of a unified Christian Europe underpinned by a commitment to religious tolerance. less...
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Caesar: Life of a Colossus by Adrian Goldsworthy
Amazon Says: Tracing the extraordinary trajectory of the great Roman emperor’s life, Goldsworthy covers not only the great Roman emperor’s accomplishments as charismatic orator, conque more...
Amazon Says: Tracing the extraordinary trajectory of the great Roman emperor’s life, Goldsworthy covers not only the great Roman emperor’s accomplishments as charismatic orator, conquering general, and powerful dictator but also lesser-known chapters during which he was high priest of an exotic cult, captive of pirates, seducer not only of Cleopatra but also of the wives of his two main political rivals, and rebel condemned by his own country. Ultimately, Goldsworthy realizes the full complexity of Caesar’s character and shows why his political and military leadership continues to resonate some two thousand years later. In the introduction to his biography of the great Roman emperor, Adrian Goldsworthy writes, “Caesar was at times many things, including a fugitive, prisoner, rising politician, army leader, legal advocate, rebel, dictator . . . as well as husband, father, lover and adulterer.” In this landmark biography, Goldsworthy examines Caesar as military leader, all of these roles and places his subject firmly within the context of Roman society in the first century B.C. less...
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Amazon Says: He found Rome made of clay and left it made of marble. As Rome’s first emperor, Augustus transformed the unruly Republic into the greatest empire the world had ever seen. Hi more...
Amazon Says: He found Rome made of clay and left it made of marble. As Rome’s first emperor, Augustus transformed the unruly Republic into the greatest empire the world had ever seen. His consolidation and expansion of Roman power two thousand years ago laid the foundations, for all of Western history to follow. Yet, despite Augustus’s accomplishments, very few biographers have concentrated on the man himself, instead choosing to chronicle the age in which he lived. Here, Anthony Everitt, the bestselling author of Cicero, gives a spellbinding and intimate account of his illustrious subject. Augustus began his career as an inexperienced teenager plucked from his studies to take center stage in the drama of Roman politics, assisted by two school friends, Agrippa and Maecenas. Augustus’s rise to power began with the assassination of his great-uncle and adoptive father, Julius Caesar, and culminated in the titanic duel with Mark Antony and Cleopatra. The world that made Augustus–and that he himself later remade–was driven by intrigue, sex, ceremony, violence, scandal, and naked ambition. Everitt has taken some of the household names of history–Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Antony, Cleopatra–whom few know the full truth about, and turned them into flesh-and-blood human beings. At a time when many consider America an empire, this stunning portrait of the greatest emperor who ever lived makes for enlightening and engrossing reading. Everitt brings to life the world of a giant, rendered faithfully and sympathetically in human scale. A study of power and political genius, Augustus is a vivid, compelling biography of one of the most important rulers in history. From the Hardcover edition. less...
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Amazon Says: The death of the Roman Empire is one of the perennial mysteries of world history. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Peter Heather proposes a stunning new solution: Centuries o more...
Amazon Says: The death of the Roman Empire is one of the perennial mysteries of world history. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Peter Heather proposes a stunning new solution: Centuries of imperialism turned the neighbors Rome called barbarians into an enemy capable of dismantling an Empire that had dominated their lives for so long. A leading authority on the late Roman Empire and on the barbarians, Heather relates the extraordinary story of how Europe's barbarians, transformed by centuries of contact with Rome on every possible level, eventually pulled the empire apart. He shows first how the Huns overturned the existing strategic balance of power on Rome's European frontiers, to force the Goths and others to seek refuge inside the Empire. This prompted two generations of struggle, during which new barbarian coalitions, formed in response to Roman hostility, brought the Roman west to its knees. The Goths first destroyed a Roman army at the battle of Hadrianople in 378, and went on to sack Rome in 410. The Vandals spread devastation in Gaul and Spain, before conquering North Africa, the breadbasket of the Western Empire, in 439. We then meet Attila the Hun, whose reign of terror swept from Constantinople to Paris, but whose death in 453 ironically precipitated a final desperate phase of Roman collapse, culminating in the Vandals' defeat of the massive Byzantine Armada: the west's last chance for survival. Peter Heather convincingly argues that the Roman Empire was not on the brink of social or moral collapse. What brought it to an end were the barbarians. less...
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Amazon Says: “All ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher combined.” —John Adams He squared off against Caesar and was friends with young Brutus. He more...
Amazon Says: “All ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher combined.” —John Adams He squared off against Caesar and was friends with young Brutus. He advised the legendary Pompey on his somewhat botched transition from military hero to politician. He lambasted Mark Antony and was master of the smear campaign, as feared for his wit as he was for exposing his opponents’ sexual peccadilloes. Brilliant, voluble, cranky, a genius of political manipulation but also a true patriot and idealist, Cicero was Rome’s most feared politician, one of the greatest lawyers and statesmen of all times. Machiavelli, Queen Elizabeth, John Adams and Winston Churchill all studied his example. No man has loomed larger in the political history of mankind. In this dynamic and engaging biography, Anthony Everitt plunges us into the fascinating, scandal-ridden world of ancient Rome in its most glorious heyday. Accessible to us through his legendary speeches but also through an unrivaled collection of unguarded letters to his close friend Atticus, Cicero comes to life in these pages as a witty and cunning political operator. Cicero leapt onto the public stage at twenty-six, came of age during Spartacus’ famous revolt of the gladiators and presided over Roman law and politics for almost half a century. He foiled the legendary Catiline conspiracy, advised Pompey, the victorious general who brought the Middle East under Roman rule, and fought to mobilize the Senate against Caesar. He witnessed the conquest of Gaul, the civil war that followed and Caesar’s dictatorship and assassination. Cicero was a legendary defender of freedom and a model, later, to French and American revolutionaries who saw themselves as following in his footsteps in their resistance to tyranny. Anthony Everitt’s biography paints a caustic picture of Roman politics—where Senators were endlessly filibustering legislation, walking out, rigging the calendar and exposing one another’s sexual escapades, real or imagined, to discredit their opponents. This was a time before slander and libel laws, and the stories—about dubious pardons, campaign finance scandals, widespread corruption, buying and rigging votes, wife-swapping, and so on—make the Lewinsky affair and the U.S. Congress seem chaste. Cicero was a wily political operator. As a lawyer, he knew no equal. Boastful, often incapable of making up his mind, emotional enough to wander through the woods weeping when his beloved daughter died in childbirth, he emerges in these pages as intensely human, yet he was also the most eloquent and astute witness to the last days of Republican Rome. On Cicero: “He taught us how to think." —Voltaire “I tasted the beauties of language, I breathed the spirit of freedom, and I imbibed from his precepts and examples the public and private sense of a man.” —Edward Gibbon “Who was Cicero: a great speaker or a demagogue?” —Fidel Castro less...
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The World of Rome by Michael Grant
Amazon Says: Grant is "justly recognised as an expert and civilized guide to the ancient world."--The Economist. The Romans changed the Western world and theirs became the first golden age more...
Amazon Says: Grant is "justly recognised as an expert and civilized guide to the ancient world."--The Economist. The Romans changed the Western world and theirs became the first golden age. This is their empire of magnificence and corruption; the republic, the dictators and the slaves; the civilization and the Pax Romana, the brutality and the collapse. less...
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