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Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of An Empire…
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Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of An Empire (edició 2007)

de Simon Baker

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365569,242 (4.04)2
This is the story of the greatest empire the world has ever known. Simon Baker charts the rise and fall of the world's first superpower, focusing on six momentous turning points that shaped Roman history. Welcome to Rome as you've never seen it before-awesome and splendid, gritty and squalid. From the conquest of the Mediterranean beginning in the third century BC to the destruction of the Roman Empire at the hands of barbarian invaders some seven centuries later, we discover the most critical episodes in Roman history: the spectacular collapse of the "free" republic, the birth of the age of the "Caesars," the violent suppression of the strongest rebellion against Roman power, and the bloody civil war that launched Christianity as a world religion. At the heart of this account are the dynamic, complex, and flawed characters of some of the most powerful rulers in history: men such as Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero, and Constantine. Putting flesh on the bones of these distant, legendary figures, Baker looks beyond the dusty, toga-clad caricatures and explores their real motivations and ambitions.… (més)
Membre:bigdaddymerk
Títol:Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of An Empire
Autors:Simon Baker
Informació:BBC Books (2007), Paperback, 448 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of An Empire de Simon Baker

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Es mostren totes 5
There is no way that you are going to get a full history of the Roman Empire in 400 pages but this is a very good introduction that hits on six points in time that were important to said empire. I highly recommend it. ( )
  everettroberts | Oct 20, 2023 |
An excellent book, very popular amongst students at the university were I work, they told me to read this book. ( )
1 vota Claire5555 | Jan 5, 2015 |
Despite my interest in its subject this book (clearly) didn't hold my interest. The writing was dry and the narrative lacked ... oomph? a hook? cohesion?
  ljhliesl | May 21, 2013 |
If you, like me, don't know much about the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire it spawned, or the impact of Roman culture on the subsequent millennia beyond what you saw on television when men in golden breastplates flogged and stapled history's most successful anarchist to a cross of wood between Paul and Jan Crouch's sobs and pleas for money, you could do worse than read this book. Though largely artless, it is not naively so, and proves as unrelenting as any anonymous, sweaty, bloodthirsty beefcake in fish scale bikini briefs in its presentation of the epochal moments that gave form to that lodestar of classical civilization.

Rome, at least mythological Rome, was founded first on murder, and then as a sanctuary for the detritus of other societies -- criminals, exiles, refugees, their tired, their poor, their huddled masses. Then these castoffs invited their neighbors to the city, ostensibly in observance of a religious festival, only to steal their womenfolk so they could make babies. Babies that would grow up not to invite neighbors to do anything other than to submit to Rome or be put to the sword. With such violent origins, one is moved to wonder if their hymns would keep time with the Star Spangled Banner.

A popular history from BBC Books, I cannot help but think that author Simon Baker is, at times, addressing the United States in a roundabout fashion. Perhaps this is self-consciously nationalistic of me because the paranoid Puritanical founding of my own country casts such a long shadow. Maybe he has merely succeeded in touching upon the overarching themes native to all civilizations with the conceit to aspire to imperialism. It amounts to the same.

Romans, like Yankees, soon tired of their kings (Etruscan, by the bye, from whom we inherit the word fascism because they would carry a bundle of elm or birch branches bound together with an axe at its center called a fasces), ran them off and founded that most remarkable and fragile of things, a republic. A republic that gave lip service to the political freedom of its citizens, but nevertheless vested the power of the kingship in two elected consuls that would share power for a set period of time and that, in practice, came from the wealthiest two percent of adult Roman males. Yet even so, the memory of one man rule would stay with Romans and, in times of crisis, dictatorial powers would be ceded to that one happy man to do as he saw fit to restore order and preserve the republic.

But Rome would succumb to triumphalism despite its high mindedness. Riding the wave of its economic and military successes -- made almost exclusively on the backs of the middle and lower classes and through the strategic application of pre-emptive wars of self-defense -- Baker notes:

In becoming a superpower, Rome, so it was said, abandoned the very values with which it had won its supremacy. At the pinnacle of its achievement, the virtues that had made the Roman republic so successful failed it and were lost forever.

An idealistic man by the name of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, a military hero and the grandson of Scipio Africanus, himself famous for having saved the young republic from the wrathful genius of Carthage's Hannibal, would attempt to redistribute lands he perceived as unjustly taken from the citizen militia who, while fighting Rome's wars of conquest, would see their properties go untended, fall into arrears, and then bought up on the cheap by the aristocracy.

In the first politically motivated murder of the republic, Tiberius would be killed and his mangled body unceremoniously dumped in the Tiber River.

Then would come the Caesars, the obsolescence, the decline, and the monotheistic statism. As I write these last words, my eyes wander to a Roman coin that I purchased some months ago and which I have worked at cleaning nearly daily. The profile of some emperor or other adorns one side; the image of an entire man holding what appears to be a bow, or perhaps even a plough, the other. One day I will set to examining it more closely in the hopes of dating it. Maybe I'll even try to decipher the Latin that haphazardly rings it. However, I will only do these things in the vein of an antiquarian. Our history cannot be found on any coin or written in any book. It can only be found in us, and I sometimes despair that it will never be overcome. ( )
  KidSisyphus | Apr 5, 2013 |
An excellent book that keeps the reader fascinated from the foundation of Rome and the Roman empire through the multitude of historical events eventually leading to its descent into disintegration. The vivid style puts you in the middle of the struggles between Senate, emperors and the military. You can look over the shoulders of great figures like Julius Caesar, Augustus or Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, better known as Nero. But in the end not a Roman emperor keeps the upper hand, instead the 'barbarian' king Odovacar brings the Western half of the Roman empire to its ultimate conclusion. ( )
1 vota ThomasK | Sep 10, 2008 |
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This is the story of the greatest empire the world has ever known. Simon Baker charts the rise and fall of the world's first superpower, focusing on six momentous turning points that shaped Roman history. Welcome to Rome as you've never seen it before-awesome and splendid, gritty and squalid. From the conquest of the Mediterranean beginning in the third century BC to the destruction of the Roman Empire at the hands of barbarian invaders some seven centuries later, we discover the most critical episodes in Roman history: the spectacular collapse of the "free" republic, the birth of the age of the "Caesars," the violent suppression of the strongest rebellion against Roman power, and the bloody civil war that launched Christianity as a world religion. At the heart of this account are the dynamic, complex, and flawed characters of some of the most powerful rulers in history: men such as Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero, and Constantine. Putting flesh on the bones of these distant, legendary figures, Baker looks beyond the dusty, toga-clad caricatures and explores their real motivations and ambitions.

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