Looking for a good History of the Roman Empire

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by iamdanthemansta, Sep 21, 2009.

  1. iamdanthemansta

    iamdanthemansta Edward of Woodstock

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    I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good history of the Roman Empire. I'm more interested in the Empire than the Republic but am open to any suggestion. Thanks.
     
  2. Maxxie

    Maxxie Chieftain

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    Try Livy’s history of Rome. Its available online in various places. There are six links under "Livius, Titus" here
    http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/modeng/modengL.browse.html

    Here is the first book: http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/Liv1His.html

    To read about Livy himself and about the incomplete latter books see

    http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/344974/Livy/4249/Livys-history-of-Rome

    There is a problem with Roman historians though. All of them mix myth and the political myths of their time with actual records. So, be sure to double check everything before you do anything more than just reading it.
     
  3. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Reading the originals is all well and good for scholars, but most people tend to be more interested in what actually happened, especially for casual reading. Livy, Polybius, Ammianus, and so on don't really tell you that, especially not in a format that's easy for most modern readers to get through, and of course they lack the vast amount of archaeological and documentary evidence (much less literary criticism of places where they get the facts wrong) that goes into composing modern histories of a given subject. Besides, Livy isn't actually a historian of the Empire, he's a historian of the Kingdom and Republic, and the very beginning of the Principate. :p

    I myself am far more familiar with the Later Western Empire than that of the pax Romana period, and for that I would recommend four books. For the most casual readers, Adrian Goldsworthy's Why Rome Fell is probably the best. A more involved one would probably be better off with Peter Heather's The Fall of the Roman Empire or, if you're looking for something a little more 'provocative' for somebody who's already a little familiar with the period, James O'Donnell's The Ruin of the Roman Empire. I hear Bryan Ward-Perkins' The Fall of the Rome is quite good as well, but I haven't gotten around to reading that particular bastion of catastrophism quite yet.
     
  4. SG-17

    SG-17 Deity

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  5. Maxxie

    Maxxie Chieftain

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    I focused a bit on the "open to any suggestion" part. Something past copyright and available online at least can be reviewed immediately.
     
  6. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Fair enough, but Dio and Suetonius are superior to Livy in the fact that they actually cover the relevant period.
    Jesus Christ, doesn't anybody listen to me? Ignore the bloody older works. Gibbon in particular is atrociously moralistic, verbose in frankly all the wrong areas, skips all the areas of the history of the relevant period that don't outright prove his thesis of a constantly declining Roman state (there are MANY of these), and doesn't include any archaeological evidence whatsoever. The study of the Later Roman Empire underwent a friggin' revolution in the twentieth century, and it's a crime to ignore that in favor of reading the overly long books of a fat, bitter, old ex-monk who wrote centuries ago.
     
  7. Lillefix

    Lillefix I'm serious. You can.

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  8. Squonk

    Squonk Deity

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    Can it be in polish?
     
  9. iamdanthemansta

    iamdanthemansta Edward of Woodstock

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    Dachs you have some interesting suggestions. Are there any books more focused on the heyday of Empire than the fall?
     
  10. holy king

    holy king Deity

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    which books about the roman empire are available in polish only?

    also, i suspect that people in Changzhou, China very rarely learn polish.
     
  11. Julian Delphiki

    Julian Delphiki Anton's key

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    When was Gibbon a monk?
     
  12. Squonk

    Squonk Deity

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    The ones by historians from Poland.

    They should start.
     
  13. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Come on Docks, we both know why people read the old history, and it has nothing to do with the quality of the scholarship. I'll echo my previous thoughts:

     
  14. Counterclaw

    Counterclaw Prince

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  15. SG-17

    SG-17 Deity

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    I enjoyed Gibbon's book. I enjoyed comparing and contrasting the views of the "first" Roman historian with those of modern historians. It was quite insightful.
     
  16. holy king

    holy king Deity

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    they cant be important if they havent been tranlated to english.

    why?
     
  17. Squonk

    Squonk Deity

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    of course they can. Most of the scientific works, especially in fields such as history, is not and never will be translated into english. Some because they deal with subjects not interesting to english speakers, some because there are many books on the same subject written by english author and publishers feel no need to publish a book by a foreign, unknown author: it's more complicated, more expensive (translation), lesser chance of becoming popular, and the english publishers most likely won't know about them anyway. There are thousands of languages, and almost two hundreds of states. English-speaking publishers will not look for non-english ones among them, especially since there are many publications in countries such as UK, USA, Austrialia, which are available in english.
    Not to mention that english is not the only international language. In Romania, books are more likely to be published in french than english; in Ukraine - russian than english. etc. Also, I think precise monohgraphies are more likely to be translated than big, synthetic works, because they are more unique, can cover fields not yet discussed in foreign languages, and because they are shorter and easier to translate.

    Your attitude is of great ignorance.
     
  18. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    :dunno: Most of what I know about the pax Romana is incidental, to be honest, focusing on certain books about certain periods (like the Year of the Four Emperors and the campaigns of Trajan) without a treatment of the period as a whole except in less...scholarly (?) works, like the for-kids summaries at the local public library or books on far more general periods. It's not really my field. I think innonimatu's probably read relevant books more recently than I have, to be honest, and probably of higher quality.
    Ah, good catch. I'd misremembered his short Catholic conversion as a brief spell in monastery. My mistake.
    :lol:, I remember reading that. It's a good point.
     
  19. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    Wouldn't this thread be more appropriate for the History forum?
     
  20. SunTzu

    SunTzu Hooah Retired Moderator

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