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Imperial Rome AD 193 to 284: The Critical Century (The Edinburgh History of Ancient Rome) Hardcover – June 20, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0748620500 ISBN-10: 0748620508

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Clifford Ando is Professor of Classics, History and Law at the University of Chicago.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Edinburgh History of Ancient Rome
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Edinburgh University Press (June 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0748620508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0748620500
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,206,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gregory V. on February 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an interesting survey of a turbulent period in Roman History. Research into this period is hampered by the lack of good contemporary historical narrative. Dio Cassius' work for this period only survives in an abridged form and Dio himself died sometime around 230 AD. Herodian died perhaps ten years later. After that, we have the substandard Historia Augusta as a source history.

Professor Ando's book is not as detailed or as good, in my opinion, as David S. Potter's "The Empire at Bay" but it offers some interesting insights regarding administrative/legal history for the period and it offers a good chapter on religion in the third century empire including a discussion of the Roman government's evolving attitude toward the early Christian movement.

On actual political history as it regards the emperors, he is less detailed than Potter or Pat Southern's 'Roman Empire' which covers roughly the same period but extends beyond 284 AD to the death of Constantine (337 AD). He offers different insights regarding certain key emperors during this period (Gallienus - less sympathetic - and Aurelian). For example, his suggested reasons for the assassination of Gallienus are interesting but, for me, unconvincing. Still, to be fair, he doesn't have good contemporary histories to work with and he is making deductions on sketchy evidence at best.

Overall, I think the book is a good survey and for those interested in this period of the Roman Empire's history, it is a good addition to one's library. However, I would still strongly recommend consulting David Potter's work on this period and Pat Southern's as well to complement Ando's presentation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
This book is the sixth volume of “the Edinburgh History of Ancient Rome” series. It covers the history of Imperial Rome from the beginning of the reign of Septimius Severus (AD 193) to the accession of Diocletian (AD 284). As such, it covers the so-called “Third century crisis” which the author prefers to term “the critical century”.

As part of a series, this volume insists on continuities and changes, with specific chapters devoted to the main turning points. These include evolutions in Roman law and, in particular, on the huge long-term impact of the Edict of Caracalla, whereby all inhabitants of the Empire became Roman citizens.

Another chapter deals with religion and presents some fascinating insights on the Edict of Decius requiring all Romans to display through sacrifice their adherence and support to the Empire and its ruler. I found this chapter particularly interesting and rather thought provoking if only because it makes a strong case for the Roman government’s relative indifference and tolerance with regards to the beliefs of the Empire’s inhabitants, Christians included, as long as all citizens displayed taken support. It also shows that this is exactly what most Christians seem to have done, with only a handful of “fanatics” staunchly refusing any such display of support. Even then, however, the author shows rather clearly that Roman authorities were rather reluctant to punish them for it. In other words, the so-called “persecutions” that took place under Decius according to later Christian authors seem to have been vastly exaggerated, while the Edict was not even directed against the Christians to begin with.

A third thematic chapter deals with government.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ipsaruinadocet on May 9, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered the paperback edition, which I knew from a library copy. I could directly compare the library copy with the one I ordered with Amazon. The Amazon copy looks indeed very different from the library copy: it is obviously a cheap reprint, probably the printout of a PDF, on a much cheaper and less glossy paper, resulting in a considerable loss of quality in the maps and illustrations: all images look greyish, are lacking contrast, and show smudges, hazing and streaks in the printing. A simple photocopier would have done a better job - definitely not worth the money.
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