Beard shatters many of our misconceptions. Not that I did, of course. In short this book was both a fascinating insight in to Roman history but also exposed how certain forms of governance have not changed in all these years. Her her-insertion and importance mar the historical facts she should be presenting. I did my best, I really did, but. But she is right to stress that the Romans pioneered a revolutionary understanding of citizenship, and in making the concept more central to the whole story of Rome than previous historians have, she highlights its truly distinctive facets.
The book is well worth buying and consulting, but, first, it is worth reading for the sheer pleasure of seeing a first-class mind at work. Exemplary popular history, engaging but never dumbed down, providing both the grand sweep and the intimate details that bring the distant past vividly to life. I listened to the audio version of this, published by Recorded Books and read by Phyllida Nash, with the physical book on hand for reference the illustrations are certainly not necessary, but are nice to have , and enjoyed it tremendously. And she doesn't look at Rome out of admiration, or as a guide to how the world works the past repeats in the present, etc. And if you are in search of claims to be original or big striking ideas then that most middle of the road product - a conventional history of a conventional topic as this is might well be the worst place to look.
I mean, just think about all the stuff and gaps in the areas that are considered well documented. She chose to end her treatise during reign of Caracalla, but this is somewhat arbitrary as any details of his tyranny are given only in passing. Which is very optimistic, I must say. If you already know a lot about Roman literature and culture I can almost guarantee that there will be things either new, or approached in a novel light here. It broke little ground and seemed at times to be solid, just not amazing.
A really good survey of Ancient Roman History. And it evolved into just the kind of mixed system that sophisticated commentators like Aristotle and Polybius approved of. How, in reality, in the far-flung provinces, was Roman rule felt by the ruled, how in their daily life did they feel the presence of the Roman Empire not much, it turns out, in quite a few cases. Beard is a sure-footed guide through arcane material that, in other hands, would grow tedious. Illustrating how a classical democracy yielded to a self-confident and self-critical empire, S. It probably helped that the proscriptions of the second triumvirate killed off most of the opposition.
She isn't doing revisionist history --- neither of them emerges as being someone you would particularly like to know --- but Beard succeeds brilliantly in making the reader re-think alternative narratives for each emperor, interpretations that portray them in a less over-the-top way than usual. Beard explains how this new faith was at odds with Roman values. You could definitely read it for bed or at the beach without feeling bored at all. And yes, this book is a very slow read. Her lens focuses intently on Julius Caesar as one would expect , the civil wars that followed, and the reign of Augustus.
So in the end I walked away with a profound hole in my historical knowledge I am only now realising and trying to rectify. She writes fascinatingly on the growth of Rome from being a small village on the banks of the Tiber into a grand empire and on the evolution and the degeneration of the Roman institutions of government. An excellent history of Rome's first thousand years for the general reader I have always been fascinated as to how one small town in central Italy came to dominate the whole Mediterranean for centuries. While I enjoyed it well enough, I felt there was just enough disorganization within it to leave me slightly annoyed with Beard's process. When the alleged words of Boadicea come down to us, and we find out that the person who wrote them down lived 100 years after her, how can we trust them? The layout of the book is perhaps not intuitive, and people will wonder why Beard stops at Caracalla, when there was still life in the Roman Empire. Hopefully, some new synthesis historian will appear who will be able to truly integrate the findings from the archeological work of the last fifty years with the older school of history based on the analysis of contemporary historians and essayists. In a highly engaging style, Ms.
Mary Beard attended an all-female direct grant school. And the answer is fairly simply: it conquered one group of people in one country after another, taking their land and rebranding the people as Roman citizens. Not traditionally structured and it makes it that much fun and engaging to read. If you're looking for a linear history of Rome made up of events and dates then look away now: that's not what Beard gives us here. I highly recommend this book as a brilliant introduction to Roman history. Next to Gibbon and Syme, Beard is a miserable second rater. Mary Beard is an engaging author who is sometimes humorous or satirical.
Subsequent Roman legend played up the heroic action of the leading general, Camillus, who supposedly razed the town. The emperors were considered the representatives of the people. The meaning refers to a period where the Senate and the People exercised supreme power in the city of Rome, which was a city-state to begin with, then the capital city of Italy, and the capital of an Empire. Thanks for your input, Sarah. The ancient Romans, Beard shows, are relevant to people many centuries later who struggle with questions of power, citizenship, empire, and identity. In particular, Mary Beard carefully analyses the creation myth of Rome and finds it to be just that with no evidence for the existence of Romulus and Remus and not much more for its line of kings.
So he too allowed everyone to read what they wanted into him. I've also read a bunch of the more modern historians like Goldsworthy, Everitt, etc. Because of the publication of Cierco's speeches and the preservation of thousands of his letters we can get uniquely close, though only from one perspective, to events as they were happening. Y eso es lo que trata de examinar Mary Beard. How did Rome feed itself, where did it get its marble, where did the money come from, the people to populate the armies.
I found all this to be very well told and an aspect of Rome too often glossed over in favor of the more flashy tales of intrigue that pervaded imperial roman politics. It was slow going, yes, but that feeling of learning something just made me swell with happiness each time I opened the book. After citing the ambiguities for the researcher, Beard notes that careers have been lost and gained in this area. I suppose some of you are wondering about the book, and whether it was any good…if so, you should know better than to read my reviews for any sort of useful content. Starting with Romulus and Remus she gives exactly the background the general reader wants. In general, one of the great strengths of the book is its ingenious running combination of narrative, source analysis, and alertness to the connections between any single incident and its wider ramifications—social, political, cultural etc.