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Review: The Rise of Rome. The Making of the World’s Greatest Empire

Anthony Everitt

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

The Rise of Rome. The Making of the World's Greatest Empire

The book “The Rise of Rome. The Making of the World’s Greatest Empire” by Anthony Everitt is a position telling the history of the Roman state from the founding of Rome to the triumph of Pompey in 61 BCE. The author in the book focuses not only on legends and historical facts, but also reflects on the path and development of the “Eternal City” toward an Empire covering all the shores of the Mediterranean.

As far as I have been able to read, this British author has so far written several ancient biographies, including those of Cicero, Emperor Augustus and Hadrian. He lectured at Nottingham Trent University and specializes in European culture. In his works, we can also mention the just presented “Glory of Rome” and “Glory of Athens”, which in turn tells the story of the Greek city-state, whose civilization and achievements had an impact on the entire Mediterranean area. Personally, the author has not been known to me so far and I have not had the opportunity to read his works; For this reason, I reached for the book published by the REBIS publishing house with greater interest.

The main assumption of the author was not to put forward unique hypotheses and to describe the history of Rome dictated by a specific thesis. Mr. Anthony Everitt decided to present the fate of Rome from its very beginnings to the middle of the 1st century BC, when the supremacy of the Republic in the ancient world was undeniable. We learn about the legendary siege of Troy and the escape of Aeneas to his new homeland. The author repeatedly emphasizes the attachment of the ancient Romans to Troy, the place where they were supposed to come from. Other legends and stories left to us by historians are also discussed – the story of the brothers Romulus and Remus (descendants of Mars), the kidnapping of the Sabines, the rivalry between the Horatii and the Curatians, and the reign of most of the kings of Rome. It must be admitted that the author very pleasantly and understandably describes the events and assumptions of myths, and the content is colored with numerous quotes from the main ancient sources.

Of course, the author not only devotes himself to the mythical beginnings of Roman statehood but also supplements them with probable or certain historical facts that determined the subsequent fate of Rome. Subsequent legendary or historical characters are presented in a comprehensive manner, capturing the necessary aspects for the plot. The language is not full of scientific nomenclature, and the story is told in an understandable way, which allows practically anyone to explore the content – even a person who is not “everyday” with ancient history.

We get to know Rome, which from a small city-state grows into an important political entity in central Italy. All internal and external conflicts can be resolved peacefully or by force – always to the benefit of Roman statehood. The outbreak of the First Punic War leads Rome to a new role – hegemon in the Mediterranean Sea. Over time, Rome becomes the peacemaker of conflicts and becomes politically and militarily involved in new territories. Ultimately, ambitious politicians and leaders, as well as successive victories, lead Rome to the top, which is crowned with the assumption of power by Octavian Augustus and the establishment of a new system of power in practice.
Moving on to the structure of the book – the position has an introduction in which the author defines the rules he uses when naming, defining characters and dating. The reader in the book has the opportunity to get acquainted with three maps and the plan of the very center of ancient Rome. What’s more, in the middle part we will find photos showing interesting objects and paintings that refer to important events in the history of Rome. This is a really nice addition that, along with the maps, complements the book and content very nicely. At the end of the book, you will also find a chronological table, footnotes, bibliography, description of historical sources and an index, which adds professionalism to the position.

What may be disturbing, however, is the small number of dates in the content. Sometimes this causes situations where the action slips out of chronology and the reader can get lost.

Despite the extensive subject matter, I can confidently say that the book is a valuable position. The reader receives a professionally written and published book that will trace the changes – in accordance with the scientific approach – that took place in the Roman state over the centuries. In addition to the legends and ancient stories that color the plot, we learn numerous facts and analyses of historical events. The book is certainly recommended.

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