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The Augustan Aristocracy (Clarendon Paperbacks)

4 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198147312
ISBN-10: 0198147317
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Editorial Reviews


"[Written in] a style that resembles ancient stonework, where every word, small and plain in itself, is so finished that no mortar is needed. Between the seemingly abrupt sentences runs a current of feeling generated by Syme's profound understanding of the ironies of political history."--The Christian Science Monitor

"Any investigation of the period must now consider this expansion of Syme's earlier prosopographical research."--Religious Studies Review

"The detailed knowledge and ingenuity in this partial reconstruction are awesome. Ronald Syme's talents here are unmatched....Anyone commenting on the life or career of Augustan aristocrats will need to consult this book for revisions of standard views in order to avoid the sin of 'inadvertence.'...The theme is compelling, not only because of the mass of prosopographical detail but also because of Syme's exquisite sensitivity to the political culture of the Augustan age....A masterpiece."--American Historical Review

About the Author

Ronald Syme is at Wolfson College, Oxford.

Product Details

  • Series: Clarendon Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 568 pages
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press (June 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198147317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198147312
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,920,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Sir Ronald Syme, OM, was one of the great Classical historians of the 20th Century. Aside from the value of his researches and his introduction of novel and productive sociological methods into the writing of Roman History, he was a master of English prose. His love of Tacitus no doubt encouraged his writing of well-balanced periodic sentences, the 20th Century equivalent of those of Gibbon and Samuel Johnson.

Most of Sir Ronald's books are now out of print. Therefore it is all the more disgraceful that his longtime publisher, Oxford University Press should charge $137.00 for the paperback edition of one of the few of his books to remain in print. The
usual excuses for such price inflation are that the book has only limited appeal and the academic publisher must offset the expense. of publication by gouging the few readers expected to buy the book, and that the high cost of the book to the reader allows the press to offset the cost of publishing other similar commercially unviable but academically valuable titles. These arguments would be legitimate (however distasteful the result for the reader who may find it necessary to buy the book) if this book were published by, e.g, Southern Illinois University Press, but this is the OUP, for God's sake, whose popular editions of classics can be found on the shelves of every Barnes and Nobles and Borders throughout the world. Surely the OUP sells enough copies of Dickens, Mary Shelley etc. to be able to defray the expense of publishing Sir Ronald Syme at a reasonable price?
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Sir Ronald Syme's "Augustan Aristocracy" is a gem of high scholarship. It is the best book on Roman history that I have come across. I have no hesitation to state that he is one of the very few authors from whom I have learnt much and with whom I have found it difficult to disagree. His prose is matchless and his style is refreshingly different from that of E. Gibbon, who appears rather gullible, and to me Syme appears to be superior to even Th. Mommsen. His treatment of Augustus, in particular, is excellent. Even his Tiberius is scintillating. He praises both Asinius Pollio and Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus and I have identified them as associates of Jesus Christ (Amyntas of Galatia in my scheme). Syme writes with great insight that Augustus encouraged Roman authors to vilify Julius Caesar. Ovid did not fall in line and he was banished.
My only criticism is that he relied too much on Tacitus and did not understand Amyntas of Galatia. He knew that the Christian churches mentioned by St. Paul at Lystra, Derbe, Antioch in Pisidia etc. are the oldest known, but failed to see that Antioch and its sister cities, Lystra and Tavium were all centers of Amyntas, whose name may have been 'Amen' and whose palace was at Isauria. I also feel that the price of the book is exorbitant.
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