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Daily Lives of Romans, Annotated Bibliography Example

Pages: 9

Words: 2391

Annotated Bibliography

Aldrete, G. (2004). Daily life in the Roman city. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

This work spans the three primary eras of Roman history, from the centuries of monarchy through the founding of the Roman Republic to the subsequent rise of the Roman Empire. Aldrete begins by examining the lives of Romans as the republic was taking shape, with an emphasis on the social structure of paterfamilias that placed men at the heads of families, businesses, and government. This is followed by a discussion about how Roman culture spread (and in some cases did not spread) into the provinces as the empire was born and began to envelop much of the Western world. The author provides a broad overview of the daily lives of the members of various social, political and economic classes, while also detailing specific social rituals, such as the manner in which children were treated by society and how they were raised in Roman households.

Ando, C. (2000). Imperial ideology and provincial loyalty in the Roman Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press.

This work considers the nature of Roman political and social ideologies with the intention of exploring the degree to which these ideologies were adapted by Roman citizens in the provinces. At issue for the author is the question of whether the Roman Empire was concerned with “altering the indigenous culture(s)” of the territories they conquered, and the extent to which any notable cultural assimilation was purposefully driven by Roman political and legal enforcement. Ando argues that it was the willingness of Rome to offer citizenship to conquered peoples that was the primary impetus behind the willingness of inhabitants of the provinces to adopt or mimic many aspects of Roman culture.

Beard, M. (2008). Pompeii. London: Profile.

Pompeii offers a detailed discussion of what life may have been like in the doomed city in the years just before it was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. The author relies on a number of sources, including written documents from the historical record; archaeological studies from the past several centuries, and contemporary explorations of the ruins and extant structures and other features in Pompeii. This information combines to form a portrait of a vibrant, bustling metropolis that in many ways exemplified urban life in the Roman Empire at the time.

Casson, L. (1998). Everyday life in ancient Rome. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

While the title of the book ostensibly covers many centuries of Roman history, the author’s emphasis is on the period of time from the decline of the Roman Republic through the advent and apex of the Roman Empire. Casson discusses the transition from republic to military empire, noting that “before Augustus, Roman armies and navies had been called up as needed; Augustus created a standing army and navy, with himself…as commander-in-chief…the rulers in the first two centuries AD used the armed forces with care and intelligence.” This army was populated with soldiers from the provinces, a policy Rome used in lieu of complete subjugation of newly-minted citizens. As Casson explains, this was one of many ways in which the Roman Empire both encouraged and coerced support for its way of life, and much consideration is given to the day-to-day lives of Roman soldiers as well as the members of the aristocracy, the plebs, and those who held political office. According to Casson, Rome had a symbiotic relationship with the provinces, relying on them for resources and in turn providing political and economic stability.

Everitt, A. (2001). Cicero. New York: Random House.

In this work, Everitt uses the life of Cicero as a lens through which to view a much broader cross section of life in Rome during his day. One striking passage in the book helps to set the context for the author’s discussion, with a vivid description of life in the Roman Empire: “There were shopping malls and bars and a lively cultural scene with theater and sport” and society was stratified in much the same manner as it is in contemporary Western society. Such strata included the aristocracy that wielded economic power and political influence, and the plebs which comprised “the broad mass of people” who populated much of the early empire. These details help to establish the author’s goal of humanizing the historical figure of Cicero and shine a light on some lesser-known aspects of his biography, and the political, social and cultural circumstances that shaped the course of his life.

Fagan, G. (1999). Bathing in public in the Roman world. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

According to Fagan, public bathing began as a relatively uncommon activity in Rome during the era of the republic before becoming a distinctive and widely-practiced activity in the time of the Roman Empire. Fagan argues that “one of the chief values of studying Roman bathing culture lies in those inferences that can be drawn from the bathes and set of the wider stage of Roman social history.” Fagan posits that the advent and growth of bathing culture was both a symptom and a cause of the rapid expansion of urbanization throughout the empire. The adoption of bathing culture in the provinces, for example, was a bellwether for the adoption of other Roman cultural and social practices. At the same time, the behavior of social bathing was a motivating force behind urbanization itself, as well as a means by which the ideologies and practices of the empire could be disseminated in other areas. As Fagan writes, the spread of bathing culture “underpinned the spread of the larger Roman lifestyle and culture.” In addition to taking a sociological and anthropological approach to the discussion of Roman bathing culture, Fagan also offers a wealth of archaeological and historical information that helps clarify the significance of such practices and the extent to which they spread over the centuries.

Fear, A. (1996). Rome and Baetica. Oxford [England]: [New York].

This author examines the issue of life in the Roman Empire by looking at the specific iterations of such life in the province of Baetica and in other parts of the Iberian Peninsula. Like other researches and historians, Fear is interested to explore the mechanisms by which Roman culture was disseminated in the provinces. While Roman culture was not adopted uniformly among all the regions of the empire, there is no question that various aspects of such cultures were adopted or adapted throughout. Central to Fear’s line of inquiry are the questions of why people in the provinces would have wanted to adopt Roman culture and lifestyles, and what advantages as well as potentially negative consequences awaited based on how quickly and completely they did so. As Fear writes, “in the absence of a policy to actively promote urbanization” on the part of the empire (which the author claims was the case), there must have been other motivating factors. The author’s main thesis is that Roman leadership largely allowed cultures to remain extant in the provinces, provided that taxes were paid and other civic obligations met. At the same time, asserts the author, the empire developed and established as streamlined a system as possible for ensuring such economic and civil fealty, thereby making cultural assimilation as much a matter of convenience as a matter of heartfelt interest in or loyalty to the culture of the Roman Empire.

Flower, H. (2010). Roman republics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Flower begins Roman republics with the following quote: There can surely be nobody so petty or so apathetic in his outlook that he has no desire to discover by what means and under what system of government the Romans succeeded in less than fifty-three years (for him it was the period from 220, just before the outbreak of the Second Punic War, to 167, the conclusion of the Third Macedonian War against Perseus) in bringing under their rule almost the whole of the inhabited world, an achievement which is without parallel in human history.

This sentiment, though attributed to Polybius in the second century BC, also informs the author’s focus in this book. From an historical perspective the author provides details about life in Rome in the republic era, while paying strict attention to the evolution of the republic and the various stages of growth and attrition it underwent on the way from monarchy to empire. Flower’s book largely runs on three tracks: the first is that which is particularly concerned with the development of the political and philosophical ideologies that gave rise to the concept of a republic. The second is the manner in which these ideologies were put into practice to form the basic frameworks of the world’s first republics. The third and final line of inquiry in the book entails a discussion of how the republic eventually underpinned the growth of an empire, and the characteristics of republicanism as practiced in the region that were cast aside as the empire grew.  Throughout the book, specific details are provided about the daily lives of Roman citizens and non-citizens in the republic, while consideration is also given to the broader roles that existed in the period between the nadir of the republic and the birth of an empire.

Gerrard, J. (2013). The Ruin of Roman Britain: An Archaeological Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press.

This book examines the decline of the Roman Empire by examining the historical and archaeological records of Britain in particular and Western Europe in general. As the author asserts, “identifying a specific point or event in time when the Western Roman Empire ended is a fruitless task,” as the end of the empire was a slow war of cultural, political, and economic attrition. Britain was both geographically and psychologically distant from the heart of the Roman Empire, and archaeological evidence from the first five centuries AD shows that the island was slowly but inexorably drifting from the empire, while the political and military leaders faced mounting challenges in protecting their interest there. The author provides a great amount of detail gleaned from archaeological research that shows the ways in which Roman culture had been disseminated in Britain, as well as the increasingly-significant cultural influence of the Germanic peoples that would sever the ties between Britain and the empire. Simply put, argues Gerrard, the Roman Empire eventually declined to the degree that it could no longer impose its will on such a far-flung province, leaving Britain to the barbarians that would plunge it and Western Europe into the Dark Ages.

Goodman, R., & Soni, J. (2012). Rome’s last citizen. New York: Thomas Dunne Books.

This book focuses on the primary subject of Marcus Porcius Cato the Younger, though it does so for the purpose of illuminating the social and political conditions that led to the fall of the Roman Republic. According to Goodman and Soni, “Cato’s world was the Roman Republic, a state at the apex of its power, able to make foreign kings tremble with a single decree, and rotting from the inside out.” At the same time, however, the Roman Senate was “the symbol of Rome’s republican heritage, and a body crippled by personality politics, rigged elections, ritualized barbarity, and sex scandals.” It was in this context that Cato rose to prominence in his day, and embodied opposition to the growing power of Julius Caesar and the excesses of the burgeoning empire. As the authors describe it, “Roman politics was well-oiled with bribes; Cato’s vote famously had no price.” The book explores Cato’s life and death, and also provides discussion and consideration to the influence that Roman republicanism had on the subsequent development of modern-day republics centuries later.

Heather, P. (2006). The fall of the Roman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press.

In the introduction to The Fall of the Roman Empire the author succinctly states the reason for its decline: “The same freedoms Rome allowed for provinces were eventually its undoing.” Unlike many of its challengers and historical antecedents, Rome made the acquisition of citizenship a relatively low hurdle to leap. Citizenship was granted more or less freely, provided that able-bodied men serve the Roman military as needed and required taxes and administrative fees were dutifully paid. For this the Roman Empire provided a stable social, political, and physical infrastructure, while also allowing those in the provinces to maintain some or even most of their cultural practices. Such an approach served the empire well in its period of growth, as it was relatively easy for Rome to expand its sphere of influence in the absence of enforced cultural assimilation. As the empire reached its greatest heights, however, the relative freedom it had allowed its farthest-flung provinces became problematic, and the empire could no longer maintain a modicum of control over populations it had never fully controlled in the first place.

Johnson, S. (1980). Later Roman Britain. New York: Scribner.

Like many previous researchers, Johnson discusses life in Britain towards the end of the Roman Empire, when the influences of invaders was undermining what remained of Roman influence and control in the region. As the author states: “From the capital, Britain would have appeared to be on the wild frontier of the Roman Empire,” and its geographical location helped to reinforce the psychological view of Britain as a distant land that held much value but was perhaps not worth keeping. The Roman leadership exerted influence and control in Britain by encouraging local native leaders with already-established social roles to take on the tasks of administering the empire’s demands. With this in mind, the daily lives of British Romans shared many commonalities with those in other provinces while also exhibiting its own characteristics that set it apart from more centrally-located (and more thoroughly-assimilated) provinces.

Rogers, A. The archaeology of Roman Britain.

This book examines the archaeological record in Britain to determine the extent “to which a Roman lifestyle was adopted in Britain under the Empire.” The author places particular emphasis on architecture, building materials, roads, and other physical constructs and examples of infrastructure that remain in Britain. These examples are compared to similar examples in other provinces for the purpose of measuring the degree to which the Roman Empire included their development and use. Rogers argues that the historical record bears witness to an evolution of Roman influence in Britain, during which the materials and techniques developed by the Romans were assimilated by the people of Britain, and adapted to the traditional uses and needs of the local peoples. Moreover, many of these influence waned during the Dark Ages, only to reemerge as if from cultural stasis centuries later.

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