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Review: Early Rome to 290 BC

Guy Bradley

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Early Rome to 290 BC

The book “Early Rome to 290 BC. The Beginnings of the City and the Rise of the Republic” by Guy Bradley is a book about the earliest period of the Roman state. The reader gets to know Rome from the Late Bronze Age to 290 BCE. The book was published by Edinburgh University Press.

The book is divided into 10 appropriate chapters: the first tells about ancient sources, historians and dating the earliest events in Rome; the second about the period before classical antiquity (Bronze Age); the third about the founding myths of Rome; the fourth on the kingdom period; the fifth on urbanization and the formation of the city; the sixth on the economy and social division; the seventh on Rome in the early republic; the eighth on Rome’s international relations with other countries; the ninth about the conquest of Italy by Rome; tenth about Rome around 300 BCE. Finally, the author puts a summary that neatly collects information from previous chapters into one.

At the end of the book, we can also find a chronology, a bibliography or an index of expressions or characters. The item is enriched with numerous black and white graphics, sketches and maps, which additionally give us, for example, an image of which areas the Romans subordinated to themselves in a given period and how the surrounding other Latin cities were located.

The book covers a multitude of different issues on ancient and Roman topics in an extremely interesting way. The period of the kingdom and the early Roman republic for the Romans themselves from the times of Cicero or Livius were extremely enigmatic. This is evidenced by the fact that the determination of the date of the foundation of Rome was difficult, and ancient historians relied on various sources or assumed their own probable dates. Interestingly, archaeological discoveries have made it possible to establish that human centres in Latium existed already at the end of the Bronze Age, so before the middle of the 8th century BCE – this is a great help for modern researchers in the matter.

In the book, the author repeatedly refers to the sources he cites and with which he complements the issues raised. We get to know different types of Rome’s founding myth, the transformation processes in Roman society, the formation of religion, the development of the settlement next to the Tiber, rivalry in the middle of Italy, the first trade and political agreements (including with Carthage). Probably the Romans also sent, like the Etruscans and other peoples of Italy, a diplomatic mission to Alexander the Great after his victory over the Persians.

Reading the book “Early Rome to 290 BC” I really couldn’t believe many times how valuable book I got to my hands. What especially captivates me is the author’s very frequent use of sources and credible reliance on his messages. For people who would like to broaden their knowledge about the origins of Rome and at the same time get acquainted with numerous messages, I strongly encourage to reach for the book.

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