Roman Realities

Roman Realities

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Roman Realities recalls the experiences of the ancient Romans through a thousand years of their history, emphasizing the problems produced by their successes and the lessons to be learned from their failures. It is based on the major primary sources of Roman history, with illuminating paralells between ancient and modern times. As FinleyHooper says in his introduction, "Anyone concerned about present problems will profit from reading about how the Romans went about solving theirs-with the added advantage of knowing how it all turned out." Although scholars will find the events in this book familiar, they will not necessarily share its insights or agree with its interpretations. This is a book to read, enjoy-and argue aboutshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 584 pages
  • 139.7 x 215.9 x 35.56mm | 793.78g
  • Wayne State University Press
  • Detroit, MI, United States
  • English
  • 0814315941
  • 9780814315941
  • 2,033,358

About Finley Hooper

Born in London, Ontario, Finley Hooper attended the University of Chicago, Purdue University, and the University of Michigan, where he received his Ph. D. degree in 1951 under the direction of the late Professor A. E. R. Boak. He has been professor of history at Wayne State University since 1966, where his courses in ancient history are enhanced by his wide-ranging knowledge of art and archaeology. His Greek Realities, published originally by Scribner's in 1967, has been reissued by the Wayne State University Press as a companion to this more

Review Text

Finley Hooper's history of Rome covers the usual ground from Rome's origins to the death of the Western Empire. But it sparkles with lucidity, grace, insight, and confident learning. Not merely a scholarly narrative, Roman Realities plays off modern scholarship against what the Romans (e.g., Livy, Polybius, Cicero, Plutarch) said of themselves and their past, thereby drawing the reader directly into the historical issues and drama and into disparate Roman minds. With an awareness of what evidence is reliable, Hooper interweaves Roman reportage and philosophy, anecdotes and analyses to provide a rich version of human character, social life, politics, and culture in Rome through periods of vitality and decay, renewal and ultimate decline. We see Hannibal, unsurpassed military tactician, defeated finally by Roman resilience; Julius Caesar, brilliant, charming, confident, strong, and popular, undone by lack of tact and self-discipline; Cicero, an orator of genius, a moralist of traditional virtues, victimized by his vanity; Augustus, austere, decisive, capable of cruelty and good sense, who set a precedent impossible to follow. Hooper's manner is well-suited to his interpretation of Rome's fall. From the late years of the Republic onward, respect for constitutional political life lessened: some citizens took the law into their own hands, and finally the power of the military and the emperor and the influence of the rich subverted the strong political spirit which had sustained Rome for centuries. At the same time, the Empire also lost the allegiance of the intellectuals, who had nourished the Roman spirit through meditations on law, history, and philosophy: thinkers now became theologians and turned toward the other world. Hooper's survey (a successor to Greek Realities, 1967) breathes life into a subject easily made dull, and thus serves as a fine introduction and synthesis. (Kirkus Reviews)show more