By Stephen Kershaw
During this full of life and intensely readable historical past of the Roman Empire from its institution in 27 BC to the barbarian incursions and the autumn of Rome in advert 476, Kershaw attracts on a number facts, from Juvenal's Satires to fresh archaeological unearths. He examines impressive personalities akin to Caligula and Nero and seismic occasions reminiscent of the conquest of england and the institution of a 'New Rome' at Constantinople and the break up into japanese and western empires. alongside the best way we come across gladiators and charioteers, senators and slaves, attention-grabbing girls, extraordinary sexual practices and gruesome acts of brutality, frequently obvious via eyes of a few of the world's maximum writers. He concludes with a short examine how Rome lives on within the modern global, in politics, structure, paintings and literature.
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Additional info for A Brief History of the Roman Empire: Rise and Fall
A novel element of the projects of Augustus was his use of huge quantities of marble from the quarries at Carrara (ancient Luni) in Tuscany. Marble had been much less used as a building material in the Republican period, when it was normally imported from Greece. Most buildings in the Forum at that time were of tufa, a rough porous stone, brown in colour, or of travertine, a textured cream limestone from the Tiber Valley near Rome – both materials being generally covered with stucco. It is only [ 22 ] during the reign of Augustus that the Forum begins to take on the appearance familiar to us from modern re-creations of the city, as he replaced the provincial building materials with gleaming white marble.
No less importantly, it established a precedent for subsequent emperors to build monuments celebrating the cult of divine emperors, thus completely altering the character and role of the Republican Forum, previously defined by its temples to the mysterious god Saturn (the Greek Cronos), and to the twin gods, Castor and Pollux, heroic young cavalrymen. [ 23 ] Nonetheless, the Forum in the imperial age retained the general pattern laid out in the Republic, although many of its monuments were now sumptuously rebuilt and temples of imperial gods added, notably of Antoninus and Faustina and of Vespasian.
He subsequently did much to emphasise the west–east axis of the Forum by rebuilding, as we shall see, the Rostra at the western end of this axis, and by building the Basilica Julia, principally consisting of law courts, along its south side to replace, in much more impressive style, the Basilica Sempronia. In 54 bc, Caesar began to construct a new forum named after himself, immediately to the north of the old Roman Forum. This was the start of a now confusing range of new fora, which from this point on took over some of the functions [ 21 ] of the old civic centre – though they never rivalled it in symbolic power.
A Brief History of the Roman Empire: Rise and Fall by Stephen Kershaw