The very idea of empire was created in ancient Rome and even today traces of its monuments, literature, and institutions can be found across Europe, the Near East, and North Africa–and sometimes even further afield.
In Rome, historian Greg Woolf expertly recounts how this mammoth empire was created, how it was sustained in crisis, and how it shaped the world of its rulers and subjects–a story spanning a millennium and a half of history. The personalities and events of Roman history have become part of the West’s cultural lexicon, and Woolf provides brilliant retellings of each of these, from the war with Carthage to Octavian’s victory over Cleopatra, from the height of territorial expansion under the emperors Trajan and Hadrian to the founding of Constantinople and the barbarian invasions which resulted in Rome’s ultimate collapse. Throughout, Woolf carefully considers the conditions that made Rome’s success possible and so durable, covering topics as diverse as ecology, slavery, and religion. Woolf also compares Rome to other ancient empires and to its many later imitators, bringing into vivid relief the Empire’s most distinctive and enduring features.
As Woolf demonstrates, nobody ever planned to create a state that would last more than a millennium and a half, yet Rome was able, in the end, to survive barbarian migrations, economic collapse and even the conflicts between a series of world religions that had grown up within its borders, in the process generating an image and a myth of empire that is apparently indestructible. Based on new research and compellingly told, this sweeping account promises to eclipse all previously published histories of the empire.
About Greg Woolf
Greg Woolf is Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews. He is the author of Et Tu, Brute?: A Short History of Political Murder and editor of The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Roman World.
“Rome: An Empire’s Story” by Greg Woolf
The Washington Post Book Review – June 29, 2012 (Excerpt)
Greg Woolf, a professor of history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, has spent his entire career studying Roman history, yet even at this point he can barely disguise the incredulity he obviously feels when he writes that the story of Rome is a “fifty-generation tale of rise and fall [that] is an epic one in human terms.” Yes, that “is the blink of an eye” in geological terms, but in human ones there is simply nothing to compare with it. There have been other great empires — Chinese, Spanish, British, to name only three — but none had anything like the staying power of the one based in Rome, and it seems as sure as sure can be that there will be none like it in the future.
His subject in “Rome: An Empire’s Story,” Woolf writes, is not a conventional account of Rome’s rise and fall but “empire itself” and the many questions it raises: “How did it grow? What enabled it to resist defeats and capitalize on victories? Why did Rome succeed when its rivals failed? How did empire survive crises, dig itself in, and replace chaotic campaigns of conquest with stability?. . . What institutions, habits, and beliefs suited Rome for the role? And what did the fact of empire do to all the beliefs, habits, and institutions with which the world had been conquered?” There are no final answers to these questions, not least because documentation of the empire is surprisingly sparse, especially for the half-millennium B.C., but Woolf speculates intelligently and interestingly. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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