A History of the Roman People

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9780138965983: A History of the Roman People

Extensively revised, this survey of Roman history takes readers on a fascinating journey from prehistoric Italy to the death of Justinian (565 A.D.). Centered around a traditional political and military narrative core, it presents in-depth coverage of social, economic, and cultural developments, making continual references throughout of supporting evidence and providing up-to-date explanations based on the evidence and current scholarship.Considers new archaeological evidence, advances in historical demography, and recently excavated and restudied artifacts to shed new light on our understanding of the origins and early development of Rome. Provides source analyses at the beginning of all major chronological periods, constant cross-references to other relevant pages, and chronological reminders to keep readers oriented. Rewrites sections on the Regal, early Republican, and late Imperial periods to incorporate latest research and provide more social and cultural history, with major sections added on women and the growth and impact of Christianity. Also includes additional, upgraded maps throughout. For historians.

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From the Publisher:

This survey of Roman history -- from prehistoric Italy to the death of Justinian (565 A.D.) -- presents extensive coverage of social, political, economic, and cultural developments.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The third edition of A History of the Roman People sought to incorporate recent research that had reshaped our understanding of Rome's origins and early development and had put the history of the late Roman Empire in a completely new light politically, socially, economically, and culturally. It also incorporated new themes, paradigms, and perspectives produced in fields such as women's studies, social history, literary criticism, and art history in order to present a more complete understanding of Roman society and culture in all periods. Accordingly, women, slaves, common citizens, provincial subjects, and other marginalized groups occupied a much larger share of the text beside the highly educated and articulate aristocratic males who monopolized historians' attention in the past. The third edition also adopted a multicultural perspective and emphasized the constant interaction between Romans and non-Romans that constituted one of the major dynamics in the evolution of Roman civilization.

While reinforcing these features in the fourth edition, I have tried to eliminate any earlier errors of fact or typography. I hope that I have strengthened and clarified the presentation of the difficult and often problematical material on early Rome. Chapter II places the origin of Rome as a city and a state more squarely i1i the broad context of early first-millennium B.C. developments in the Mediterranean world by giving the Phoenicians equal emphasis beside the Greeks and Etruscans. Chapters III and IV have been reworked to clarify the nature of classes in Roman society, the thorny issues surrounding the identity of the patricians and plebeians, and the complexities of constitutional development.

This edition gives greater coverage to Rome's activities in the East from 88 B.C. to A.D. 96, which shaped the important role that the eastern provinces and kingdoms played during the subsequent history of the Empire. The chapters covering the political history of the first three centuries A.D. have been extensively revised to present a much more balanced and sophisticated understanding of the relevant emperors and events in the light of recent scholarship. I have also tried to streamline the narrative of the third-century anarchy and highlight the general trends that the unfortunately large number of emperors illustrates.

Throughout the book, the emphasis remains on people within the larger historical context. People make and experience history. Readers are interested in how people contributed to and were affected by historical trends and events. I have tried, therefore, to present enough factual data and biographical information to enable the reader to find answers to the basic questions of who, what, where, and when without the use of other books; to demonstrate the why and how of larger political, social, economic, and cultural developments; and to make understandable the behavior of the people involved. The result, admittedly, is a large amount of specific information. Students will find it less daunting if they keep in mind that the most important things to remember are the general ideas and themes, which, once grasped, can be supported by selecting only some of the specific evidence necessary to make the case in the text.

The great strength of history as a discipline is its insistence that the general be supported by the specific and that the specific is r meaningful only in the context of the general. Therefore, I have tried always to strike a balance between the two, even at the expense of brevity. I have also maintained and even reinforced the previous editions' chronological organization and frequent citation of dates. My experience is that students are not familiar enough with the basic sequence of events to avoid being confused by a purely topical or thematic presentation. They need frequent repetition of chronological signposts to make the important ones familiar.

I have elected to retain the traditional Western B.C. and A.D. eras that some scholars have abandoned under the influence of those who fear that their historical links with Christianity may be offensive to people of other faiths and non-Western backgrounds. As a witty colleague once said to me, however, it is easy to avoid the first offense by explaining A.D. as "Anno Dionysiaco", in reference to Dionysius Exiguus, who made the original miscalculation on which the B.C.-A.D. system is based, and by translating B.C. as "Backwards Counting." Moreover, the B.C.E.-C.E. system is really no improvement over the old system, since it can mean "Before the Christian Era-Christian Era" just as easily as "Before the Common Era-Common Era." As for the second offense, the B.C.E.-C.E. system is still based on the Occidental assumption that the Western calendar should be considered in common use throughout the world. Here, it would serve no purpose other than imposing on the vast majority of students who will be as signed this text an unnecessary dissonance between the system commonly used in their culture and another used in textbooks, the reading of which they already consider an imposition.

I have also opted to continue to treat political and military topics in chapters separate from those that treat social, economic, and cultural matters. History is, of course, a seamless web, but historical analysis is not. Each major section of the text begins with an explanatory narrative of major political and military developments and events in order to provide a clear framework for the subsequent analysis of contemporary social, economic, and cultural features and trends. These major topics are treated under separate headings so that students will not have to unravel a densely interwoven narrative before they can get an overview of long-term changes with respect to the major categories of historical analysis. Students should then be able to acquire a clear understanding of the topics within these categories and discuss them singly or in any combination ultimately desired.

I have kept the writing as clear and as succinct as the nature of the subject allows without "dumbing down" the text to the point of pandering instead of educating. In addition, I have tried to aid the reader with parenthetical explanations of unfamiliar words and terms and as many new charts, tables, maps, and illustrations as possible without prohibitively raising costs. How successful I have been will be for the reader to decide.

Many deserve my gratitude, not least my teachers, colleagues, and students, who have given me a lifetime of learning. Again, the University of Connecticut and its Department of History, my professional home for 33 years, have generously provided the facilities and support without which my task would have been immeasurably more difficult. Special praise goes to Messrs. Geoffrey Meigs, Jeffrey Mathieu, and Timothy Ruggieri of the Computer Support Group in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. On substantive matters, I have profited greatly from the thorough and thoughtful reports rendered by the Prentice Hall reviewers of the third edition: Valerie French, American University; Ronald Mellor, UCLA; Kurt A. Raaflaub, Brown University, and two anonymous colleagues. Except on some points already discussed, the failure to follow a suggestion does not signify disagreement or stubbornness, but rather limits of time or space.

I am also grateful to the editors and staff at Prentice Hall, particularly Barbara DeVries, for their patience and professionalism in bringing this project to a successful conclusion.

Finally, I must express my abiding gratitude to my good friend Wilda Van Dusen not only for her unfailing moral support but also for tenaciously reading every word and making me look much better than I deserve.

Allen M. Ward
Storrs, Connecticut

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