Friday, December 26, 2014

Reasoning: Roman History Resources

I'm back to the land of the living!

I've just finished up my first term of teaching undergrads Roman history and just completed my first set of PhD exams (including a Roman history exam-- which I passed with very high marks!). For those of your who have read the blog at all, you know that this is not even close to my area of expertise. As such, this was quite the victory for me.

So, I thought I'd list, with some comments, the resources I used for studying. Some are from my reading list, some are my own additions.

  • Boatwright, Mary, Daniel J. Gargola, Noel Lenski, Richard J. A. Talbert. The Romans: From Village to Empire. 2nd edition, 2012. (The second edition has a shorter section on early Rome, which is sad, but it expands so that it has information on the end of the Western empire and a little bit on the Byzantine empire, which I think is something that was extremely necessary). Many of the sections were far too short, but it's a fairly decent overview of everything.
  • Brown, Peter. The World of Late Antiquity. I think this book is mostly useless. It is far too broad an overview. However, the pictures are really fantastic and it gives some idea of the broad strokes of what Late Antiquity looks like.
  • Cameron, Averil. The Later Roman Empire. This is a good introduction to Late Antiquity.
  • Cornell, T.J. The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars, 1000-264 BCE. This book is an absolutely fantastic resource on early Rome. However, it is heavily academic, so I would suggest another introduction first, or perhaps even ignoring it altogether if you don't have to know this pre-Punic War period thoroughly.
  • Crawford, Michael. The Roman Republic. 2nd edition. 1993. I read this because it was on my reading list but I think it is absolutely terrible. It assumes that you already know this period in history with some degree of competence, so it fails to explain a lot of the important events. Beyond this, it spends the entirety of the post-Gracchi period with a seriously Marxists interpretation of history (specifically that the Gracchi excited the class tensions between the senatorial and the lower classes). Moreover, I found that the earlier half of the book completely useless and rather antiquated.
  • Wells, Colin. The Roman Empire. This book was quite good. The explanation of the political system of the Roman Republic in the Introduction is quite fantastic. Also, although this book is also a short introduction to the empire, I found it was quite useful.

Popular History:
  • Everett, Anthony. The Rise of Rome. I used this for information on early Rome. It had a lot of detail. I listened to the version from Audible.
  • Gwynn, David. Roman Republic: A Very Short Introduction. I thought this was a really great introduction to the subject and a nice synthesis of Republican history. 
  • Holland, Tom. Rubicon. This was an incredible helpful and detailed portrait of the Late Republic. I listened to the Audible edition.

Podcasts and Lectures:
  • Duncan, Mike. The History of Rome. (or iTunes). There are small errors scattered throughout the history.
  • Fagan, Garrett G. The History of Ancient Rome. From the Great Courses. Helpful, especially for the Republic. However, it cuts off right after the accession of Vespasian and then goes onto thematic history.
  • -----------. The Emperors of Rome. From the Great Courses. This lecture series is very helpful, especially when paired with Fagan's other series. However, Fagan has a taste for the sensationalist.
  • Noble, Thomas F.X. Late Antiquity: Crisis and Transformation. From the Great Courses. Most of this is rather late material-- far beyond the scope of most Classics courses. Much of it, also, is out of chronological order so it can be hard to follow at points. However, I found it really helpful when I took my Late Antique education class.

I'm considering posting some timelines and other resources as well, but I haven't gotten around to fixing my paper versions.

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