The History of Ancient Rome : The Great Courses: Ancient History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Garrett G. Fagan
  • Series: The Great Courses: Ancient History
  • 22 hrs and 42 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Even today, the influence of Ancient Rome is indelible, with Europe and the world owing this extraordinary empire a huge cultural debt in almost every important category of human endeavor, including art, architecture, engineering, language, literature, law, and religion. At the peak of its power, Rome's span was vast. In the regional, restless, and shifting history of continental Europe, the Roman Empire stands as a towering monument to scale and stability, unified in politics and law, stretching from the sands of Syria to the moors of Scotland. And it stood for almost 700 years.
In this series of 48 spirited lectures, you'll see how a small village of shepherds and farmers rose to tower over the civilized world of its day and left a permanent mark on history. In telling Rome's riveting story, Professor Fagan draws on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, including recent historical and archaeological scholarship, to introduce the fascinating tale of Rome's rise and decline, including the famous events and personalities that have become so familiar:

Horatius at the bridge
Hannibal crossing the Alps during Rome's life-or-death war with Carthage
Caesar being assassinated before a statue of his archrival Pompey
The doomed lovers Antony and Cleopatra
The mad and venal emperors Nero and Caligula
The conversion of Constantine.

The course also addresses one of history's greatest questions: Why did the Roman Empire fall? And you'll learn why most modern scholars believe that the empire did not "fall" at all, but, rather, changed into something very different - the less urbanized, more rural, early medieval world.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Prof. Fagan was able to rekindle my love of ancient history. Having been out of undergrad for many years now, I had forgotten how much fun "otium cum dignitate" can be. We all find ourselves drawn into our respective specialities (for me, medicine), only reading those books or papers directly relevant to our jobs. We forget what it is like to learn for the sake of learning.

This course took me back to the Western Civ, Latin and Philosophy courses in my undergrad years, which were wonderful for their own sakes. Not because I _need_ to know this stuff, but because I _want_ to.

The courses are laid out very well with a clear outline, concise topics and a logical progression. Each lecture can stand on its own, yet it builds on those before it. The storytelling employed is exemplary and draws you in. It made my daily commute much more productive and entertaining. The hour per day I sit in my car becomes my "otium cum dignitate" again.

Next step: relearn Latin!

I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in renewing their own curiosity. It you have a trip to Rome planned, it certainly can have practical uses as well.

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- Sad Donkey "Dr_Crazy"

A Fine But Very General Overview of Roman History

Any additional comments?

This is a good read for anyone who wants a broad overview of the history of Rome. The lecturer does a great job delivering his content and he covers Roman history from its origins in myth, legend, and archaeology as a series of settlements on the banks of the Tiber and continues its journey through its monarchical period, the Roman Republic, the Imperial period, and ends around the fall of the Western part of the Roman empire in the 5th century AD. He is thorough and roughly chronological in his presentation.

However, anyone who considers listening to this should understand that this audio book is "broad" in the fullest sense of the word. The lecturer makes no attempt at being comprehensive and tells his listeners time and again that he cannot and does not make an attempt to treat any topic in great depth. This means that anyone looking for a thorough overview of any aspect of Roman history and culture, such as literature, art, architecture, religion, military history, political history, or even the careers of indispensable figures such as Caesar himself should look elsewhere. This was my only "disappointment" with this book. I entered into it hoping to learn much more about many of these specific elements, but left feeling like I had learned only a very little about a very lot of material. I do not think this is any fault of the book or the lecturer though. There is so much potential content to cover that one has go to more specialized studies if you want to go into any depth. So in summary this book will give you a good overview, but only an overview. Those who already know a lot about Roman history will find little to learn here, but those who don't or have only a vague sense of it will definitely benefit.

All told this is a good overview of Roman history and a worthwhile listen. Enjoy your travels to the ancient Mediterranean!

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- Mike

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses