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The Roman Empire, 27 BC-AD 476: A Study in Survival

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In this probing study, Starr covers the whole sweep of imperial Roman history, analyzing the binding forces of government & the army as initiated by Augustus, the maturing of these forces under subsequent emperors & the eventual collapse of this network in the western provinces. Not simply a chronological summary, the book explores in piquant, telling detail the elements & In this probing study, Starr covers the whole sweep of imperial Roman history, analyzing the binding forces of government & the army as initiated by Augustus, the maturing of these forces under subsequent emperors & the eventual collapse of this network in the western provinces. Not simply a chronological summary, the book explores in piquant, telling detail the elements & institutions that shaped the empire's history.


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In this probing study, Starr covers the whole sweep of imperial Roman history, analyzing the binding forces of government & the army as initiated by Augustus, the maturing of these forces under subsequent emperors & the eventual collapse of this network in the western provinces. Not simply a chronological summary, the book explores in piquant, telling detail the elements & In this probing study, Starr covers the whole sweep of imperial Roman history, analyzing the binding forces of government & the army as initiated by Augustus, the maturing of these forces under subsequent emperors & the eventual collapse of this network in the western provinces. Not simply a chronological summary, the book explores in piquant, telling detail the elements & institutions that shaped the empire's history.

30 review for The Roman Empire, 27 BC-AD 476: A Study in Survival

  1. 4 out of 5

    William

    4+ stars. This is an outstanding and concise yet comprehensive study of the factors that kept an extensive empire together for 500 years. Starr calls the conditions impossible but through the established pillars of strength: the army, administration, aristocracy, urban organization, and eventually Christianity, Rome survived.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Perron

    This book was required reading in my Roman history course I took in the early 2000s with Professor Gary Johnson. It is a study of Rome during the imperial period from the rise of Emperor Augustus to the fall of Emperor Romulus Augustus. This book was favored by my professor for looking at the Roman Empire and asking not `why did if fall' but rather `why did it last for so long?' What this book really is, is a political science study on the Roman Empire reviewing everything from the emperors to th This book was required reading in my Roman history course I took in the early 2000s with Professor Gary Johnson. It is a study of Rome during the imperial period from the rise of Emperor Augustus to the fall of Emperor Romulus Augustus. This book was favored by my professor for looking at the Roman Empire and asking not `why did if fall' but rather `why did it last for so long?' What this book really is, is a political science study on the Roman Empire reviewing everything from the emperors to the subjects. The book examines imperial succession, administration, the aristocratic Senate, the provisional commanders, and the people who lived in the Empire. Since most emperors were legally all-powerful and the only way to get rid of them was assassination, often a new emperor would allow his predecessor to be condemned for a brief time period. Starr compares this to Henry Kissinger's analysis on Marxist states. However, Starr points out that they were still very different. "The Roman Empire, however, was not encumbered with the weight of Marxist-Leninist doctrine, nor was it the heir of Russian tsars; rather it emerged out of the Roman Republic and was very poorly equipped with political theory. If we turn and look at the emperors themselves, it quickly becomes apparent that they did not act like Republican consuls, elected in pairs for only one year and fettered by the Senate and by ancestral custom; in many ways their role resembles that of a provincial governor in the Republic, essentially absolute in his province and adulated by his subjects (at least in the Greek East). The summation of a Republican governor's position applies equally well to the Roman Caesars: `A Roman governor was either a wonderful success or a gigantic failure; and the opportunities of harm possessed by a vicious and incompetent administrator were beyond calculation." p. 47 This work is an excellent examination into how the Roman Empire actually functioned as a state (to use a modern term), detailing how the Empire functioned under the emperors, what it was like for the subjects who lived under it, and why it managed to exist as long as it did. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, under two hundred pages it will not take much time and it will greatly increase your understanding of the Roman Empire.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    This is an interesting corrective on the Gibbonite, Marxist, and Postcolonial interpretations of the rise and fall of the Roman empire. The author disputes the idea that the Empire born with the reign of Augustus was in fact a military dictatorship and discusses the main forces in society that had to be balanced in order to maintain power. It was not strictly the power of the praetorian guard that maintained the power of the emperor at least until the 3rd century. It lays the decline at an histo This is an interesting corrective on the Gibbonite, Marxist, and Postcolonial interpretations of the rise and fall of the Roman empire. The author disputes the idea that the Empire born with the reign of Augustus was in fact a military dictatorship and discusses the main forces in society that had to be balanced in order to maintain power. It was not strictly the power of the praetorian guard that maintained the power of the emperor at least until the 3rd century. It lays the decline at an historical process that was both moral and economic and born of the exhaustion of Greco-Roman culture by the fourth century and the rise of Christian culture (similar to Gibbon but not couched as a decline in virtue). The economic explanation includes a graduate depopulation of urban areas and the rise of proto-medieval polity, as central authority declined and a concomitant inability to maintain miltary forces on a weaker productive base.

  4. 5 out of 5

    R.

    In a brief number of pages, the author provides an excellent overview of the Empire’s history. Where he truly excels is in going beyond description to an analysis of what forces were at work and how they managed the delicate balancing act of survival.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Διόνυσος Ελευθέριος

    I’ve always enjoyed Chester Starr’s books on ancient history in part because of their brevity. In a few sessions, one can gather up many of the important details spanning many centuries. That has always seemed helpful to me, being reminded of this event or that one and being able to consider many of them in their relations to the others. In these respects, this book of his was no exception. So, a nice treat. On the other hand, this book on the Roman Empire, subtitled “A Study in Survival,” also I’ve always enjoyed Chester Starr’s books on ancient history in part because of their brevity. In a few sessions, one can gather up many of the important details spanning many centuries. That has always seemed helpful to me, being reminded of this event or that one and being able to consider many of them in their relations to the others. In these respects, this book of his was no exception. So, a nice treat. On the other hand, this book on the Roman Empire, subtitled “A Study in Survival,” also carries a thesis: the Roman Empire survived only so long as a finite set of institutions functioned well (the army, the relationship between the aristocratic class and imperial, etc.). And of course, all of these claims seem quite plausible in his presentation. However, this book is much too small to make that argument well, or with much depth (this thesis does, after all, have a kind of unfalsifiable obviousness to it). Its brevity virtually guarantees that: the events in this slim study do just happen to be the very events that would confirm his thesis. Better, it seems to me, to use this book for what it is more properly suited for: a nice and accessible survey of the important historical events of the Roman Empire.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Liam

    "'Make haste slowly.'" (saying of Augustus, 12) "Outward urbanity and surface respect for legality by Augustus combined with weariness of chaos on the part of the aristocracy to produce political stabilization." (16) "'Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?'" (quoting Augustine, 68) "'I must regard the most learned of men the one who has 30 legions.'" (quoting Favorinus, 109) "Heads of figures tilted upward in the late second and still more in the third century, as if "'Make haste slowly.'" (saying of Augustus, 12) "Outward urbanity and surface respect for legality by Augustus combined with weariness of chaos on the part of the aristocracy to produce political stabilization." (16) "'Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?'" (quoting Augustine, 68) "'I must regard the most learned of men the one who has 30 legions.'" (quoting Favorinus, 109) "Heads of figures tilted upward in the late second and still more in the third century, as if seeking communion with Heaven. Men's mouths closed, instead of opening in breathless emotion. Physical activity meant less and less, inner incorporeal emotion more and more; one cannot avoid using the term transcendental to describe the resulting 'sphinx-like calm of a never-ending vision.'" (quoting H.P. L'Orange "Apotheosis in Ancient Portraiture", 137)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nick Pannone

    This book served its purpose, which to describe the survival of the Roman Empire rather than reasons for its fall (though it was touched on). This book displays itself as a type of RE introduction, but I found that it would be helpful to be familiar with some terms, people, and maps of the RE to truly appreciate what the author is reporting. Also, have a Latin to English dictionary handy. The best this book did was tickle my curiosity to read more of the RE, specifically the Caesars themselves. I This book served its purpose, which to describe the survival of the Roman Empire rather than reasons for its fall (though it was touched on). This book displays itself as a type of RE introduction, but I found that it would be helpful to be familiar with some terms, people, and maps of the RE to truly appreciate what the author is reporting. Also, have a Latin to English dictionary handy. The best this book did was tickle my curiosity to read more of the RE, specifically the Caesars themselves. I'm glad it was a short read but it also warrants further explanation.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Louis Shalako

    Good first year college or university text, which examines the height of Empire and some of the manifold reasons for its downfall. "Other than the fact that it declined and fell, people really don't know much about the Roman Empire and the reasons for its fall," which is a parapharse but it is in there somewhere. I liked the book, especially the breakdown of Imperial armed forces, speculations as to pay and taxation, the evolution of the law. The questions concerning the economic basis of Empire i Good first year college or university text, which examines the height of Empire and some of the manifold reasons for its downfall. "Other than the fact that it declined and fell, people really don't know much about the Roman Empire and the reasons for its fall," which is a parapharse but it is in there somewhere. I liked the book, especially the breakdown of Imperial armed forces, speculations as to pay and taxation, the evolution of the law. The questions concerning the economic basis of Empire is disturbing with some modern parallels.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Hallman

    An excellent look at the whole of the Roman Empire starting with Augustus and following through till the fall many centuries later. While the work has many useful and general facts, the author does have a certain thesis and has arranged the chapters to reflect this. Some chapters, particularly those one cities and towns, fall short in comparison to others in their depth and investigation. A very short read with a very "overview" feel, but informative and well worth a read. An excellent look at the whole of the Roman Empire starting with Augustus and following through till the fall many centuries later. While the work has many useful and general facts, the author does have a certain thesis and has arranged the chapters to reflect this. Some chapters, particularly those one cities and towns, fall short in comparison to others in their depth and investigation. A very short read with a very "overview" feel, but informative and well worth a read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    While Starr's work does ask why did the impossible Roman empire last as long as it did - *imperial unity*, the generalized focus of numerious topics leaves a reader wanting more for greater clarity of his overall argument. This is particularly evident in his quick summation of the final years during complete fall of the empire. While Starr's work does ask why did the impossible Roman empire last as long as it did - *imperial unity*, the generalized focus of numerious topics leaves a reader wanting more for greater clarity of his overall argument. This is particularly evident in his quick summation of the final years during complete fall of the empire.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    This is a clear, concise overview of the Roman Empire with a strong focus on the early emperors. I found it thoughtful and engaging, and it provides a wonderful framework for further reading in the area.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    This is a good, albeit very general, introduction to the history of the Roman Empire.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steven Raszewski

    Ok.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Oetken

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mart Bendici

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

  18. 4 out of 5

    Arch Grieve

  19. 4 out of 5

    Doug Morelly

  20. 5 out of 5

    Max

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  22. 5 out of 5

    Topher

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jared Ciocco

  24. 5 out of 5

    William Emery

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kelley

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robert Castle

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  28. 5 out of 5

    Keir R

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

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