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The World of Rome (Phoenix Press) Paperback – December 31, 2000
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“Scholarly and exciting . . . After reading this illuminating account of the prevalent conditions, beliefs and superstitions, we feel that we know how the ordinary people really lived and felt.”—New York Times Book Review
“[Grant is] justly recognized as an expert and civilized guide to the ancient world.”—The Economist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Michael Grant is a highly successful and renowned historian of the ancient world. He has held many academic posts including those of Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; Professor of Humanity at Edinburgh University; Vice Chancellor of The Queen's University, Belfast and Vice Chancellor of the University of Khartoum. He is a Doctor of Letters at Dublin and a Doctor of Laws at Belfast. He has also been President of the Classical Association of England, the Virgil Society and the Royal Numismatic Society, and is a Medallist of the American Numismatic Society. He lives and writes in Italy.
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Top Customer Reviews
Grant does have a slightly annoying habit of someone who has had lots of time to read and sometimes feels the need to make a comparison to a modern writer like Kipling for no apparent reason. A look at the long list of books he has written is indicative of a man who is indeed very well-read but perhaps has written too much. Yet in discussing Rome, Grant is clearly at the core of his expertise.
The Senate monopolized power in Rome. Sulla used his power to shape up of the Senate oligarchy. After him political affairs were corrupt, chaotic, violent. Caesar became dictator for life, Augustus managed to institute a constitutional settlement. The Senate of the emperors undertook a good deal of business. Most rulers tried to maintain the republican facade.
Communication in the empire was possible because there was an amazingly comprehensive network of roads. Tax collection in the provinces was delegated to tax farmers. Xenophobia was not prevalent in Rome. People of the western provinces became Romanized. Roman rule was tolerable because it carried with it the gift of peace. Greeks welcomed the imperial system. The Romans found it convenient to retain the city-states. Military crises caused Rome to interfere with the self-government of the provincial cities in 300 A.D. There was interregional commerce. Trade joined agriculture as primary factors in the economy. The social pyramid was high and steep. Roman citizenship had been held by the free Romans. It was extended to all Italians living south of the Po. Retired soldiers were made civilian settlers in the empire.
The Romans treated law in a scientific way. The classical period of Roman law came later than the classical period of literature. At the end of the republic there was anarchy. Democracy was out of the question when Augustus controlled the empire. Imperial policy was to make the people happy with cheap food and spectacle. Towns and cities depended on the countryside. Tempers frayed. There was industry and there were labor disputes. The Roman will to power was expressed in cruelty. The gladitorial contests were of Etruscan origin. More cruel were contests between humans and wild animals.
In Rome patriotism and state religion were indistinguishable. Augustus used religion to support his political acts. Romans wanted something more. They feared fate and believed in astrology. There were mystery cults. Dionysus, Aesculapius, Isis, and Cybele were the focus of cults. There were also Mithraic traditions. Mithras, the renewer of life, was associated with the seasons. In philosophy Epicurians and Stoics contended with each other. Circero and Seneca leaned in the direction of Stoicism. Marcus Aurelius's writings show a frequent mood of melancholic resignation. Latin literature has a quality of intimate self-revelation. Roman education concentrated on Greek and Roman poetry. Virgil and Horace were imcomparable Roman poets. And then there is Ovid, the last of the poets of Rome's Golden Age. Romans were among the world's greatest art patrons.
Grant provides a striking and detailed portrait of an ancient world which seems as fresh as yesterday. A reader's journey through this book supplies both a review of events and facts and themes learned in school and a supplement to such an endeavor.