A provocative and contrarian religious history that charts the rise of Christianity from the point of view of traditional" religion from the religious scholar and critically acclaimed author of Augustine.
Pagans explores the rise of Christianity from a surprising and unique viewpoint: that of the people who witnessed their ways of life destroyed by what seemed then a powerful religious cult. These "pagans" were actually pious Greeks, Romans, Syrians, and Gauls who observed the traditions of their ancestors. To these devout polytheists, Christians who worshipped only one deity were immoral atheists who believed that a splash of water on the deathbed could erase a lifetime of sin.
Religious scholar James J. O'Donnell takes us on a lively tour of the Ancient Roman world through the fourth century CE, when Romans of every nationality, social class, and religious preference found their world suddenly constrained by rulers who preferred a strange new god. Some joined this new cult, while others denied its power, erroneously believing it was little more than a passing fad.
In Pagans, O'Donnell brings to life various pagan rites and essential features of Roman religion and life, offers fresh portraits of iconic historical figures, including Constantine, Julian, and Augustine, and explores important themes--Rome versus the east, civilization versus barbarism, plurality versus unity, rich versus poor, and tradition versus innovation--in this startling account.
Professor Jones discusses the career of Augustus in the context of the turbulent times of the breakdown of the Roman Republic into civil war. He shows how dependent Augustus' rise to power was upon his adoption by Julius Caesar, and traces the ruthless and unscrupulous way in which Augustus exploited his unique position as Caesar's heir. But he demonstrates that Augustus's continuing success was all his own: the adopted son succeeded in solving the political crisis which, because he had failed to do so, had cost the father his life. For Augustus was a consummate politician, and it was his great achievement to establish a form of government which proved more or less stable for over two centuries.
The exciting, dramatic story of one of history's most famous events--the death of Julius Caesar--now placed in full context of Rome's civil wars by eminent historian Barry Strauss.Thanks to William Shakespeare, the death of Julius Caesar is the most famous assassination in history. But what actually happened on March 15, 44 BC is even more gripping than Shakespeare's play. In this thrilling new book, Barry Strauss tells the real story. Shakespeare shows Caesar's assassination to be an amateur and idealistic affair. The real killing, however, was a carefully planned paramilitary operation, a generals' plot, put together by Caesar's disaffected officers and designed with precision. There were even gladiators on hand to protect the assassins from vengeance by Caesar's friends. Brutus and Cassius were indeed key players, as Shakespeare has it, but they had the help of a third man--Decimus. He was the mole in Caesar's entourage, one of Caesar's leading generals, and a lifelong friend. It was he, not Brutus, who truly betrayed Caesar. Caesar's assassins saw him as a military dictator who wanted to be king. He threatened a permanent change in the Roman way of life and in the power of senators. The assassins rallied support among the common people, but they underestimated Caesar's soldiers, who flooded Rome. The assassins were vanquished; their beloved Republic became the Roman Empire. An original, fresh perspective on an event that seems well known, Barry Strauss's book sheds new light on this fascinating, pivotal moment in world history.
"Searingly passionate...Nixey writes up a storm. Each sentence is rich, textured, evocative, felt... A] ballista-bolt of a book." --New York Times Book Review
In Harran, the locals refused to convert. They were dismembered, their limbs hung along the town's main street. In Alexandria, zealots pulled the elderly philosopher-mathematician Hypatia from her chariot and flayed her to death with shards of broken pottery. Not long before, their fellow Christians had invaded the city's greatest temple and razed it--smashing its world-famous statues and destroying all that was left of Alexandria's Great Library.
Today, we refer to Christianity's conquest of the West as a "triumph." But this victory entailed an orgy of destruction in which Jesus's followers attacked and suppressed classical culture, helping to pitch Western civilization into a thousand-year-long decline. Just one percent of Latin literature would survive the purge; countless antiquities, artworks, and ancient traditions were lost forever.
As Catherine Nixey reveals, evidence of early Christians' campaign of terror has been hiding in plain sight: in the palimpsests and shattered statues proudly displayed in churches and museums the world over. In The Darkening Age, Nixey resurrects this lost history, offering a wrenching account of the rise of Christianity and its terrible cost.
If the grandeur that was Rome has long since vanished, the impact of the Eternal City can still be felt in virtually every corner of Western culture. Students of speech and rhetoric to this day study the works of Cicero for guidance. We find Roman Law setting the model for legal systems from the twelfth century to the present. And Latin itself, far from being a "dead language," lives on not only in the Romance languages, but also in English vocabulary and grammar. Rhetoric, language, law--these are just a small part of the great Roman influence that has lasted throughout the centuries.
The Legacy of Rome has long been considered the standard introduction to the achievements of the Roman world. Now in a completely new edition, this classic work brings together the latest scholarship in the field from some of the world's leading classical scholars. Unlike the previous version, which focused on such narrow topics as commerce and administration, the new edition broadens the spectrum of influence, showing the impact, for example, of Roman literature, art, politics, law, and language on western civilization. Jasper Griffin, for instance, looks to the works of Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, and Wordsworth, among others, to trace the lasting influence of the great Roman poet Virgil on the development of poetic forms such as the pastoral, epitomized by Virgil's Eclogues, and the epic poem, exemplified by the Aeneid. A.T. Grafton shows how Renaissance intellectuals such as Machiavelli and Guicciardini looked to Rome's past for political enlightenment, and found models of military strategy in the works of Tacitus and Livy. Editor Richard Jenkyns dispels the misconception of the Romans as purely imitative of the Greeks; he points out such uniquely Roman concepts as jurisprudence and citizenship, and architecture based on the round arch and the vault, as evidence of Roman innovativeness. Other contributors--George A. Kennedy, Robert Feenstra, and Nicholas Purcell--discuss the importance of the study of Roman rhetoric in preparing speakers for public life, the lasting influence of the Justinian code on Western legal development, and the impact on future civilizations of the romanticized notion of an imperial Rome and its magical ruins.
Ranging from the pastoral tradition, to the development of the comedy, to the lasting influence of the Latin language, The Legacy of Rome provides a much-needed new appraisal of the richness of the great civilization which gave rise to a large part of Western heritage.
"This book will be of the greatest service . . . a scholarly and convenient presentation of a vast array of facts." -Times Literary Supplement
In this well-written and well-researched social history, F. R. Cowell succeeds in making Life in Ancient Rome alive and dynamic. The combination of acute historical detail and supplementary illustrations makes this book perfectly suited for the student preparing to explore classics, as well as the tourist preparing to explore twentieth-century Rome. Lucid and engaging, Life in Ancient Rome is for anyone seeking familiarity with the greatness that was Rome.