This was a period of remarkable personalities, from the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius to emperors like Diocletian, who portrayed themselves as tough, even brutal, soldiers. It was a time of revolutionary ideas, especially in religion, as Christianity went from persecuted sect to the religion of state and emperors. Goldsworthy pays particular attention to the willingness of Roman soldiers to fight and kill each other. Ultimately, this is the story of how an empire without a serious rival rotted from within, its rulers and institutions putting short-term ambition and personal survival over the wider good of the state.
|Publisher:||Yale Univ Pr|
|Publish Date:||Sep 2010|
|Number of Pages:||531|
|Shipping Weight (in pounds):||1.36|
|Product in Inches (L x W x H):||6.0 x 9.35 x 1.5|
|List of Maps||p. vii|
|List of Illustrations||p. ix|
|Introduction - The Big Question||p. 11|
|Crisis? The Third Century||p. 27|
|The Kingdom of Gold||p. 29|
|The Secret of Empire||p. 53|
|Imperial Women||p. 70|
|King of Kings||p. 86|
|The Queen and the 'Necessary' Emperor||p. 123|
|Recovery? The Fourth Century||p. 155|
|The Four - Diocletian and the Tetrarchy||p. 157|
|The Christian||p. 174|
|The Pagan||p. 223|
|East and West||p. 264|
|Fall? The Fifth and Sixth Centuries||p. 283|
|Barbarians and Romans: Generals and Rebels||p. 285|
|The Sister and the Eternal City||p. 299|
|The Hun||p. 314|
|Sunset on an Outpost of Empire||p. 335|
|Emperors, Kings and Warlords||p. 353|
|West and East||p. 370|
|Rise and Fall||p. 388|
|Conclusion - A Simple Answer||p. 405|
|Epilogue - An Even Simpler Moral||p. 416|
These two fine books about late Roman history bring to mind the current discussion of the worldwide economic debacle's impact on empire. Goldsworthy's popular history traces the three centuries leading up to the final collapse of the Western Empire in 476 C.E. In the shorter, more academic 428 AD, Traina follows a single year across the late empire from Egypt to Britannia. While Goldsworthy pursues large-scale trends over centuries, Traina describes life on the ground (as far as the historical record allows) through the leading figures of the day, including generals, emperors, and clerics.
Goldsworthy convincingly argues that the Roman state collapsed from within, showing that internal disorder and the ballooning bureaucracy (rather than barbarian invasion or Christianity) created the conditions leading to fall. Traina's focus on a single year, a half-century before the end of the Western Empire, reveals a world already more like the medieval period than ancient times, with Christian bishops arguing over heresy, ascetic monks perched atop columns, and Germanic tribes occupying much of Gaul and Spain (and preparing to invade Africa). The authors' complementary perspectives lead to similar conclusions: the empire's ever-so-slow collapse was almost unnoticeable to the Romans, for whom the concept of mighty Imperial Rome endured despite the reality simply because there was nothing to take its place.
Unusual for a popular historian, Goldsworthy always takes the time to share with readers his interpretive process with source materials, and he is more explicit than Traina about present-day parallels. Goldsworthy's book would satisfy any reader, while Traina's scholarly work makes a good follow-up for serious students.
-Stewart Desmond, New York
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In AD 200, the Roman Empire seemed unassailable. Its vast territory accounted for most of the known world. By the end of the fifth century, Roman rule had vanished in western Europe and much of northern Africa, and only a shrunken Eastern Empire remained. What accounts for this improbable decline? Here, Adrian Goldsworthy applies the scholarship, perspective, and narrative skill that defined his monumental Caesar to address perhaps the greatest of all historical questions—how Rome fell.
It was a period of remarkable personalities, from the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius to emperors like Diocletian, who portrayed themselves as tough, even brutal, soldiers. It was a time of revolutionary ideas, especially in religion, as Christianity went from persecuted sect to the religion of state and emperors. Goldsworthy pays particular attention to the willingness of Roman soldiers to fight and kill each other. Ultimately, this is the story of how an empire without a serious rival rotted from within, its rulers and institutions putting short-term ambition and personal survival over the wider good of the state.
How Rome Fell is a brilliant successor to Goldsworthy's "monumental" ( The Atlantic) Caesar.
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