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Roman History Book: Recommendations?

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Roman History Book: Recommendations?

Postby Lex » Mon Oct 06, 2003 3:07 pm

I have been reading a history of Greece from ancient times to Alexander. When I finish it, I would like to read about the history of the Romans as well. (I went to a lousy public high school that never covered this material, and I didn't have time in college while pursuing a technical degree, so this stuff is new to me.) But I haven't been able to find what I want. I am looking for a one-volume overview that covers everything from ancient times through the Republic to the fall of the (western) Roman Empire. Everything I can find in one volume either covers only the Republic or only the Empire, or is terribly expensive. Any suggestions? (I already have Durrant; I am looking for something more recent.)
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Postby MDS » Tue Oct 07, 2003 6:00 am

For a single volume text I would recommend A History of the Roman People by A. M. Ward. The 4th edition came out in Nov 2002 and is $65.33 on amazon.com

It covers the period from the origins of rome to 600 AD, thus giving you the scope you want. It is well-written, well-researched and used in a lot of universities here in Canada (or so my professor tells me).

Now that said, I am using it for my course now but purchased the 3rd edition of it (published in 1999) but the reasonable sum of $35 CDN.

I would suggest looking around in used bookstores and/or online for this third edition if you are not looking to spend $65.
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Postby benissimus » Tue Oct 07, 2003 6:09 am

Read Pliny or Livy :P

Actually your request for a 1 volume source makes me remember the joke from Catullus I in which he mocks Cornelius Nepos for trying to write all of the Italian history in just 3 volumes.
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Postby Keesa » Tue Oct 07, 2003 11:59 am

Livy is good-well, excellent, really-and I would highly reccomend him, especially the translation I have, if you were looking to read about the history of Rome in some thirty+ volumes. Right now I'm a little more than halfway through the Early History of Rome, which is his first five books. Not quite what you're looking for, I'm afraid!

MDS, you mentioned that you had a one-volume text that covered all of that. How in-depth is is? With Livy, I'm getting a year-by-year account of the history of Rome, which is sometimes boring, sometimes amusing, often wonderful and always charming. I just can't see covering all Roman history in a single volume unless it was a couple of feet thick. Or have I just been spoiled by Livy, and Roman history can be made more concise without losing anything?
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Postby Lex » Tue Oct 07, 2003 1:27 pm

MDS wrote:For a single volume text I would recommend A History of the Roman People by A. M. Ward.


Hmmm...... I've seen that one on Amazon, but the price put me off. But other than that, it did look the most like what I was looking for.

MDS wrote:Now that said, I am using it for my course now but purchased the 3rd edition of it (published in 1999) but the reasonable sum of $35 CDN.


Unfortunately I don't have easy access to campus used book stores. I don't I don't suppose you'd be in need of money for next semester's books, and would be willing to sell your copy after you're done with it?
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Postby Lex » Tue Oct 07, 2003 1:30 pm

benissimus wrote:Read Pliny or Livy :P

Actually your request for a 1 volume source makes me remember the joke from Catullus I in which he mocks Cornelius Nepos for trying to write all of the Italian history in just 3 volumes.


I'll wait until I can read them in the original. :P

I understand that a single volume can't cover every nuance, but that's not what I'm looking for right now. I prefer to get the "big picture" first, and then tighten my focus after I have a clue what I want to focus on.
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Postby MDS » Tue Oct 07, 2003 7:11 pm

Keesa: It's fairly in-depth considering the limitations you automatically run into with it being one volume.

Now that said reading Livy, Tacitus and the like is obviously the best way to go about learning Roman history after you get a broad scope of the ideas.

I kinda automatically assumed that Lex was interested in a secondary source text as opposed to any of the Roman authors we could throw at him.

And it will indeed "tighten" your focus, you may find that certain aspects or time periods grab your interest more than others. Then you can go read the Roman authors who focus on what you decide to pick out.

Lex: Am I interested in making money by selling the book? Ya because I will be getting the 4th edition in December. (Which is my idea of a Christmas present.) PM me and lemme know about shipping a copy down to you.
And I do realize you already knew everything I wrote above, just wait on the Livy and such till you get grounded in it.
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Postby Keesa » Fri Oct 10, 2003 1:03 pm

Hey, Lex. I just found this link online; if you're looking for a very wide view of the Roman history that doesn't cost you anything, you might want to try this; http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/eutro ... 2_text.htm

It calls itself An Abrigement of Roman History, and appears to cover most of Roman history. I'm not sure quite how far it goes, but I do know that it starts with the founding of Rome. How good are you at reading from a computer screen? :wink: Anyway, take a look at it; it might be what you're looking for.

Hope this helps.
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Postby Keesa » Fri Oct 10, 2003 1:07 pm

Okay, I just checked, and it goes up through Jovian, whatever year that was. :oops:

"Such was the state of the Roman empire in the consulship of the Emperor Jovian and Varronianus, in the year one thousand, one hundred and nineteen from the foundation of the city. But as we have now come to illustrious and venerable princes, we shall here fix a limit to the present part of our work; for the things that remain must be told in a more elevated style; and we do not, for the present, so much omit them, as reserve them for higher efforts in writing. "
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Postby Lex » Fri Oct 10, 2003 2:44 pm

Keesa wrote:Hey, Lex. I just found this link online; if you're looking for a very wide view of the Roman history that doesn't cost you anything, you might want to try this; http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/eutro ... 2_text.htm


Thanks, but I'm looking for something that is backed up by modern research, so that I'm not (hopefully) reading legend and propaganda masquerading as history. Strange as it might sound, I'm not so sure that reading contemporaneous sources is always the best way to get an objective (as possible) grasp on history.

Besides, I'm in negotiations with MDS to buy her copy of Ward.
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Postby MDS » Fri Oct 10, 2003 7:48 pm

The 3rd edition of Ward that I own (and that Lex is about to!) was published in 1999. To be fair, the fourth edition (published 2003) does have the usual revisions one finds in any reprint, and several expanded chapters.

I am very very lucky to be near such a great campus bookstore and an even better campus used bookstore.

Thus I would also go with the academic text over an online abridgement. It does look to be a decent site though Keesa, and I have bookmarked the link.

Besides, I spent enough hours scanning online texts for courses and my monitor is an eyesore! :)
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Postby Keesa » Fri Oct 10, 2003 10:29 pm

Okay. :) I can't argue with that. I get a lot of my books from free online sources (but classics have always been my favorite kinds of books), and somehow reading online doesn't bother me...
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Postby klewlis » Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:26 am

Lex wrote:
Keesa wrote:Hey, Lex. I just found this link online; if you're looking for a very wide view of the Roman history that doesn't cost you anything, you might want to try this; http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/eutro ... 2_text.htm


Thanks, but I'm looking for something that is backed up by modern research, so that I'm not (hopefully) reading legend and propaganda masquerading as history. Strange as it might sound, I'm not so sure that reading contemporaneous sources is always the best way to get an objective (as possible) grasp on history.

Besides, I'm in negotiations with MDS to buy her copy of Ward.


c'mon, *all* history is simply legend and propoganda... with the occasional artifact to add verity to the legend. There's no such thing as an "objective" history.

;)
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Postby Keesa » Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:17 pm

klewlis wrote:
c'mon, *all* history is simply legend and propoganda... with the occasional artifact to add verity to the legend. There's no such thing as an "objective" history.

;)


So I just prefer reading free legends to buying them? :wink: That sounds like me.... :D
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Postby Lex » Sun Oct 12, 2003 1:46 am

klewlis wrote:c'mon, *all* history is simply legend and propoganda... with the occasional artifact to add verity to the legend. There's no such thing as an "objective" history.

;)


Post-Modernist! :x :wink:

Well, there may be no such thing as a completely objective history, but some are more objective than others. And I like to kid myself into believing that people today don't have such a vested interest in bending the truth about classical cultures as the people of those times did. Of course, I have never spent much time in a classics dept. (one 200 level class at college), or I would probably know better. :cry:
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Postby Keesa » Sun Oct 12, 2003 12:21 pm

I try to read from a variety of sources. Learning more about the authors helps to evaluate them a little better, I feel, since it gives you an idea of what their motives may have been. (If they wrote during the reign of a certain Emperor, for example, they may not have been completely unbiased in describing that emperor or rules or descisions from any previous emperors that affected that one...

At the same time, that's a check I do on all historians, regardless of when they happen to be living. I think-and it's only my opinion-that ancient historians are just as good as modern ones, at least in some ways, but I don't really trust either of them. :wink:
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Postby klewlis » Sun Oct 12, 2003 4:34 pm

all people bend the facts to suit their agendas... that's perfectly human and unavoidable.

i'm not a complete postmodernist... i believe strongly in tradition and that there is right and wrong and truth that doesn't depend on how one feels about it.

but there are certain facets of postmodernism that i accept, and one of those is the fact that we shape history to suit our purposes, and *that's ok*. we have this idea that we need to reduce everything to a formula, and I hate that. art, love, life, and even politics cannot be reduced to a formula, and *should* be a story told by people for people. :)
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Postby Keesa » Tue Oct 14, 2003 11:54 am

klewlis wrote:but there are certain facets of postmodernism that i accept, and one of those is the fact that we shape history to suit our purposes, and *that's ok*. we have this idea that we need to reduce everything to a formula, and I hate that. art, love, life, and even politics cannot be reduced to a formula, and *should* be a story told by people for people. :)


I think I pretty much agree with that. I just like reading more than one version of the story. If nothing else, it's fun. :D
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