Rome from the Ground Up

Rome from the Ground Up

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Rome is not one city but many, each with its own history unfolding from a different centre: now the trading port on the Tiber; now the Forum of antiquity; the Palatine of imperial power; the Lateran Church of Christian ascendancy; the Vatican; the Quirinal palace. Beginning with the very shaping of the ground on which Rome first rose, this book conjures all these cities, past and present, conducting the reader through time and space to the complex and shifting realities - architectural, historical, political and social - that constitute more

Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 144.8 x 226.1 x 22.9mm | 725.76g
  • The Belknap Press
  • Cambridge, Mass., United States
  • English
  • 100 color illustrations, 30 halftones, 10 maps
  • 0674022637
  • 9780674022638
  • 582,330

Review quote

This intricate, literary traveler's guide explores the contiguous cities of Rome built on the Tiber floodplain over the centuries. McGregor, co-head of the University of Georgia's department of comparative literature, chronologically traces the successive periods of intense architecture and planning that helped Rome achieve strategic greatness, from the Etruscan management of the Tiber Island ford 3,000 years ago, to the city's unparalleled artistic stamp by Bramante and Michelangelo during the Renaissance, to Mussolini's monumental Fascist vision, to the precarious repairs heralding the Jubilee Year of 2000. The ancient historian Strabo remarked that while Greek cities were esteemed for their beauty and wealth, Rome excelled in the construction of roads, aqueducts and sewers, and on this theme McGregor dwells expertly, giving readers an excellent tour of ancient landmarks. As an official residence of emperors until the fourth-century displacement of the capital to Constantinople, Rome gushed with water in the form of baths and fountains; with the return of the popes from Avignon in 1377, the Vatican assumed prominence, and Bramante's restructuring of Old St. Peter's became a beacon for Rome's new mission. Here is a walking tour in stately, inviting prose that renders wonderfully manageable a massive history lesson for the intellectually curious and adept. Publishers Weekly 20050718 A pleasing history of Rome from antiquity to the modern era, tied to monuments, buildings and other structures throughout the city...Well worth consulting before planning a tour of the Eternal City. Kirkus Reviews 20050815 Where history, architecture, and travel find common ground is where this author dwells... The text, peppered with crisp illustrations, is recommended for the erudite traveler. -- Brad Hooper Booklist 20050915 Despite the organized chaos of its streets and squares, Rome was not a planned city, but a group of cities that gradually became one. In Rome From the Ground Up, James H. S. McGregor describes how this happened in prose so clear you'll think it came from one of Rome's many springs. -- John Freeman Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 20051217 McGregor has written an informative architectural history of Rome, a cumulative portrait that can serve as a walking guide to the city as well. Some have described Rome as a palimpsest, a metaphor McGregor believes is of limited use. Rome was not a sequence of cities built on top of another, but a series of power centers that shifted location across the Tiber floodplain over some 2800 years. The author begins at Tiber Island, with its river ford, and at the river port that served this most ancient of Romes. After an excellent description of the structures in the area and the activities that took place around them, McGregor relates the changes that have occurred in the region over the centuries. This successful formula is applied through the end of the 20th century in chapters on the Roman forums, the imperial palaces, the early Christian churches, the Vatican, the Renaissance City, and the Baroque expansion of Rome. -- Robert Andrews Library Journal 20060201 This survey of Rome's past, as it evolved over 3,000 years from a string of small cities that sprung up along the Tiber into the seat of empire and finally today's city, is part history, part architecture, part travelogue...McGregor metaphorically digs into the soil beneath Rome's present-day monuments to 'reconnect the modern city with its ancient counterparts.' Each chapter considers the monuments in the order that a visitor would encounter them while walking through the city, resulting in a guide for the thoughtful traveler as well. Color photos, engravings, historical maps, architectural plans and drawings bring Rome's past to life. -- Christine Delsol San Francisco Chronicle 20060126 An important addition to the already jam-packed library of books on Rome...Unlike the standard Baedecker guide--which leads the reader through meticulously detailed tours of specific sites--McGregor takes on the whole magnificent sweep of Roman history, from Romulus to Rutelli (to quote my cicerone friend). In a novel approach, he tells the city's story by taking you on a neighborhood by neighborhood visit, starting with the oldest part, the Tiber Island and the Ancient Port, and then moving slowly away from the river and into the Forum, the Imperial City, the Vatican, Trastevere and the Quirinale hill...Rome from the Ground Up provides just the kind of overarching structure that the visitor to Rome needs, either on the way to or back from the Italian capital. It is also a beautifully-written work, providing a prose that is a very fitting tribute to the sights that it describes. So while the politicians are slugging it out in buildings with glorious names like Palazzo Madama and Montecitorio, why not take an excursion through history, in the comfort of your own armchair? -- Michael Moore US Italia Weekly 20060501 While no single book can ever do justice to such a city, McGregor's study provides an illuminating and practical introduction to Rome...For those lucky enough to find themselves in Rome for the first time, McGregor's integrated approach to the architecture, culture and history of the city would be a useful and reliable aid to understanding its manifold complexities. -- Peter Keegan Bryn Mawr Classical Review 20060528 I can't really have a favorite book on Rome, can I? No, but...well, this comes close. In three hundred pages of clean, muscular prose, McGregor has done the almost impossible task of pulling the glories of this city together in a neat, readable, incredibly well informed study. He takes us through the history of Rome as reflected through its physical presence, as he briskly describes with a wonderful eye what we can still see around us, and how we can place these wonders into a coherent sense of the city. -- Robert Barret SlowTravel The author chronicles Rome's evolution over 3,000 years from a group of small cities along the Tiber River, showcasing the architecture, history and culture that made it what it is today. The lush images and maps are unusually rich for a paperback edition. Planning a trip to Rome this year? Be sure to slip this book into your valise. -- Steve Goddard History Wire 20080519show more

Table of contents

Introduction 1. Tiber Island and the Ancient Port 2. The Roman Forum 3. The Imperial City 4. Early Christian Churches 5. Vatican Revival 6. Renaissance in the River Bend 7. Baroque Expansion 8. The Survival of History Information Further Reading Acknowledgments Illustration Credits Indexshow more

About James H. S. McGregor

James H. S. McGregor is Professor and Co-Head of the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of more