In case you’ve ever believed that the study of ancient Rome is a daunting drudgery, you’re probably not alone. Maybe you studied ancient history in school, but haven’t retained very much of it. Perhaps your curiosity about the Roman Republic has been piqued because of recent political events at home and abroad. If any or all of these statements apply to you, professor Anthony Everitt has written just the book for you.
It’s been a few decades since I’ve studied college level ancient history courses. Still, I’ve retained an interest in Rome, the republic and the later Roman Empire. So, when I stumbled upon The Rise Of Rome: The Making of the World’s Greatest Empire, at the Norfolk Public Library, I was ecstatic.
The Rise Of Rome is a condensed history of pre-empire Rome. The book tells of the primitive, backwater hill town and its history up to the assassination of emperor, Julius Caesar. This is a span of around 700 years. In so far that Romans considered themselves as the mythical descendants of Troy, Everitt also details the fall of the city of Troy predating Rome by some 300 years.
The struggles of the tiny cluster of hilly villages to consolidate into a city under the rule of kings is the start of this epic tale. The story only gains momentum as plots and intrigues crop up among the major players and their rivals.
By 509 BCE, the last of the kings was overthrown and the formation of the Roman Republic was underway. Most of the book deals with this portion of Rome’s history. Wars among the neighboring Italian tribes are many. The subjugation of them became the basis of future alliances that made expansion across the peninsula possible. These allies were very valuable in the wars against Rome’s major foes, the Illyrians, Greeks, Gauls, Celts, Carthagians and Iberians.
Even though I have been familiar with Rome’s struggle against the Empire of Carthage, I found Everitt’s telling of the First Punic War to be breathtaking. My attention was focused and my heart was pounding at his descriptions of battles between the two arch-enemies. With arrival of Carthage’s Hannibal, the excitement became heated up to fever-pitch. As a matter of fact, all of Everitt’s Punic Wars text is quite compelling and enjoyable.
A careful reading of The Rise Of Rome will make the reader find many alarming parallels between the Roman Republic and the American Republic/Empire worth considering. The disdain for compromise and domestic diplomacy that appeared later in the squabbles of the Roman Senate find ready comparison with the partisan fueding within the United States’ Congress of today. Other parallels can be found by an alert reader, as well.
If you only want a very enjoyable, entertaining book, you’ll find the story in Anthony Everitt’s book to satisfy your desires. You will have the side benefit of an educational experience that will hopefully spark your curiosity for more detailed studies of the ancient world.
The Rise Of Rome–The Making of the World’s Greatest Empire by Anthony Everitt; published by Random House; ISBN: 978-1-4000-6663-6
The Blue Jay of Happiness enjoyed the maps, photos, and timeline that were included in the book.