Hand-drawn maps and a new image selection illustrate the Folio Society edition of Persian Fire – the bloodthirsty clash of civilisations by the master of classical history, Tom Holland.
The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic
Introduced by the author
A gripping account of the twilight of the Roman Republic and its bloody transformation into empire; the story of Caesar’s generation, thrillingly told.
‘The blood-stained drama of the last decades of the Roman Republic… is told afresh with tremendous wit, narrative verve and insight… What characters there were in this drama!’
- Christopher Hart, Independent on Sunday
Bound in blocked buckram, printed with a design by Kent Barton
Set in Spectrum with Castellar display
Frontispiece and 32 pages of colour plates
10˝ x 6¾˝
An engrossing history of a pivotal era
In 49 BC, 704 years since the founding of Rome, Julius Caesar (then a Roman general and governor of Gaul) crossed a small river in the north of Italy called the Rubicon and knowingly plunged Rome into civil war. Placing the reader in the midst of the action, Holland tells the story of Caesar and his generation, which was to witness the twilight of the Republic and its bloody transformation into an empire. Here, legendary historical figures are brought thrillingly to life, from eloquent Cicero and wily Cleopatra to brave Spartacus, the slave who dared to stand against the mighty superpower.
Holland pictures Rome as a disciplined and ambitious predator, a state willing to commit acts of shocking barbarism to preserve its freedom. It is also a state ’as unsettlingly familiar as it is strange’ – its citizens enjoyed all-night dances, were intrigued by the cult of celebrity and had a fascination for unusual pets. Holland’s is a story of intrigue, triumph, cruelty and violence, an exciting retelling of a moment in history that still echoes with significance. As Holland describes it, ’so fateful was Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon that it has come to stand for every fateful step taken since’.
Time and again Caesar had hazarded his future – and time and again he had emerged triumphant. This, to the Romans, was the very mark of a man. In less than a decade he had forced the surrender of eight hundred cities, three hundred tribes and the whole of Gaul – and yet excessive achievement to the Romans might be a cause for alarm as well as celebration. They were the citizens of a republic, after all, and no man could be permitted to put his fellows forever in the shade.
Combining verve and clarity with scrupulous scholarship, Rubicon is not only an engrossing history of this pivotal era but a resonant portrait of a great civilisation in all its extremes of self-sacrifice and rivalry, decadence and catastrophe, war and world-shaking ambition. This lavishly illustrated edition features 32 pages of colour plates, revealing the artefacts that help further our understanding of Rome. The binding is blocked with a striking image of Caesar, by Kent Barton.
About Tom Holland
Tom Holland is one of Britain’s foremost writers on the ancient world. He is the author of Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic (2003); Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom (2008); In the Shadow of the Sword (2012), which covers the collapse of Roman and Persian power in the Near East and the rise of Islam; Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar (2015), and Athelstan: The Making of England (2016). Persian Fire won the Anglo-Hellenic League’s Runciman Award, and Rubicon was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History. Holland has also published a translation of Herodotus’ Histories (2013) and has adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Virgil for BBC Radio. In 2007, he was the winner of the Classical Association prize, awarded to ‘the individual who has done most to promote the study of the language, literature and civilisation of Ancient Greece and Rome’.