Friday, January 6, 2012

Why scholars are always talking about Rome

There can surely be nobody so petty or so apathetic in his outlook that he has no desire to discover by what means, and under what system of government, the Romans succeeded in less than 53 years, in bringing under their rule almost the whole of the inhabited world—an achievement which without parallel in human history.
—Polybius (220-118 BC).  The Rise of the Roman Empire.

In his Great Courses lectures, when remarking on explanations modern authors have given towards Rome's success, Garrett Fagan makes the insightful observation than modern author's explanations say as much about the authors themselves as they do Rome, especially the age in which the author lived. For example, authors today are not likely to sympathize with Rome's expansions and conquests like British authors in the Victorian Era.