Astoundingly broad and ambitious in scope, this brilliant history begins with Homer and ends with Hadrian. With a new introduction by the author.
When Julius Caesar, crossing the Rubicon, said, ‘The die is cast,’ he was quoting the Greek poet Menander. With this act, he was initiating a civil war between himself and his rival general Pompey that would engulf the Roman world. ‘He thought, it is said, of the enormous evils which would follow for mankind if he crossed and of the reputation of the crossing among posterity.’
This is just one of the pivotal moments brought before us in vivid detail in this brilliant history of ancient Greece and Rome. Astoundingly broad and ambitious in scope, it begins with Homer, and ends 900 years later with Hadrian – the last emperor of the classical age. Robin Lane Fox combines concise accounts of events such as the Persian Wars and the war with Hannibal with thematic chapters that explore subjects such as ‘The Peace of the Gods’ and ‘Ruling the Provinces’. He also foregrounds the themes which preoccupied classical historians: freedom, justice and luxury. Freedom and justice were ‘passionately defended and variously interpreted’ in wars between the Spartans and the Athenians, while during the reigns of Tiberius, Claudius and Nero, ‘luxury, as personal extravagance, continued to increase remorselessly’. Lane Fox is a lively, witty guide, explaining that the bones of Orestes carried by the Spartans were probably those of a big prehistoric animal (‘Orestesaurus Rex’) and commenting on Rome’s ‘most un-Athenian readiness to grant citizenship to outsiders’.
‘Hugely entertaining … ancient history lives for Robin Lane Fox and he makes it live for his audience’
One of the pre-eminent classical scholars of his generation, Lane Fox is the author of numerous books including Pagans and Christians, also published by The Folio Society. This edition of The Classical World contains a new introduction by the author and a dazzling selection of pictures chosen from sources including the Hermitage and the Rijksmuseum.
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