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Roman Republics Hardcover – September 13, 2009

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691140438 ISBN-10: 069114043X

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Editorial Reviews


"Flower's analysis of the early republican institutions, the breakdown of constitutional rule after 133 BCE, and the republic of Sulla is provocative and insightful. She demonstrates how the Roman political elite adapted and reinvented their republican institutions in the face of successive crises. A lucid, imaginative analysis that is required reading for all serious students and scholars of Rome."--Choice

"Roman Republics is a highly readable, highly persuasive volume intended to revitalize the study of the republican period in Rome. The volume is not aimed exclusively at beginners or experts; both will find much of value in the reassessment presented."--Colin Bailey, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"This book is highly recommended. It is rich and thought provoking, beautifully written and argued. It touches on and weaves together a remarkable number of topics in Roman republican history and historiography. Most welcome is the emphasis on evolution and change over time, sometimes dramatic, of Roman political institutions and culture. I am largely persuaded by Flower's conclusion that late republican authors are not trustworthy guides to Roman republican culture since they themselves had never witnessed a properly functioning republican system."--Michael P. Fronda, New England Classical Journal

"There is little doubt that Harriet Flower's book has opened up a field which has been more intensively studied than any other in ancient history. She has given us a new way to look, and new questions to ask. For those reasons alone, this is an important book."--David Rafferty, Melbourne Historical Journal

"Flower deserves full credit for the boldness of her challenge to the traditional approaches. [Her] exciting and illuminating study will long remain essential reading for everyone with a serious interest in what I shall persist in calling the Roman Republic."--John Rich, Journal of Roman Studies

"The book is very well produced. . . . Flower's book, which offers stimulating insights, will doubtless contribute to the ongoing discussion on the nature of republican government."--Rachel Feig Vishnia, Scripta Classica Israelica

From the Back Cover

"Written in a lively generalist's style, Roman Republics is a major contribution to the study of the Roman republic that will appeal to readers far beyond the field of classics. Harriet Flower proposes a stunningly original reconceptualization of the almost 500-year period that has traditionally been called the 'Roman republic.' Her book also provides an unexpected bonus as an ultra-readable, reliable, and brief guide to five centuries of Roman history. Accessible yet challenging, Roman Republics will persuade many and (thankfully) infuriate some. It should cause quite a stir."--T. Corey Brennan, Rutgers University

"This is a very good and extremely stimulating book that reflects an unusual level of creative and original thinking and that will become a must-read for undergraduate and graduate seminars on Roman history. I for one have already decided to reorganize my own course along the lines Harriet Flower proposes. I am not aware of any other book that makes the same claims or that even questions the traditional periodization of the Roman republic."--Kurt A. Raaflaub, Brown University


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (September 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069114043X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691140438
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,134,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By The Historian on May 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is a solid, brief and challenging history of the Roman Republic. I always thought of the period 509-31BC as a single aggressive republic, increasing its territories, money and population and dealing with the pros and cons this expansion bought and building a civilization within laws and protocols. The author sets out 3 parts; part 1 deals with the development of the framework of the Republic, then part 2 deals with innovation and change and the last part is concerned with the breakdown and aftermath from Sulla to Octavian. The author ends up detailing thirteen periods of time including six republics.

The period 509 to 451 BC consists of a pre republic and a proto republic, so the first Republic starts around 450 BC. l am just a lay historian but l thoroughly enjoyed this book, crisply written and logical with a deep insight into the multi layered history of Rome, and a joy to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Kn. on June 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Flower's thesis is that the Roman Republic is best understood as a sequence of very different republics, punctuated with more-or-less tumultuous transitional periods, and finally collapsing, not so much in one specific crisis, but in a long, explicable process of increasing disruption and violence, the old structures failing, and the Romans unwilling to adapt and compromise to meet changing conditions. Flower points out that this very unwillingness to adapt was a novelty in a society that had been willing and able to peaceably compromise and reform its republic, sometimes quite radically, in ages past.

Flower is very perceptive and modern in her political analysis. Her characters seem real and believably complex in their motivations, not the cardboard cut-outs with confusingly repetitive names of some Roman histories. If there is one flaw in her book it is that it is (as she admits) a bare outline of concept and method, and does not go into her analysis of these crucial political events in detail.

This is not an introductory, or probably even an intermediate-level book. Flower assumes that you know the facts (and not just the "basic" ones) of Roman history; she is primarily interested in presenting her interpretation. As a reasonably well-read layman, I struggled at times, and had to look more than a few things up. But if you have a strong interest in Republican Roman history and politics, I strongly recommend this book.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Seth Williams on October 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great read. I like how she tries to think through problems in periodization, in sorting out the details of the structure of the Republic as it is altered through time. To me it makes more sense of how events worked. The Republic after Sulla was unlike the Republic of Maruis, and even more, of the Gracchi. That helps us understand the quickening pace of events as they spin toward empire.
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