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"Flower's analysis of the early republican institutions, the breakdown of constitutional rule after 133 BCE, and the republic of Sulla is provocative and insightful. She demonstrates how the Roman political elite adapted and reinvented their republican institutions in the face of successive crises. A lucid, imaginative analysis that is required reading for all serious students and scholars of Rome."--Choice

"Roman Republics is a highly readable, highly persuasive volume intended to revitalize the study of the republican period in Rome. The volume is not aimed exclusively at beginners or experts; both will find much of value in the reassessment presented."--Colin Bailey, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"This book is highly recommended. It is rich and thought provoking, beautifully written and argued. It touches on and weaves together a remarkable number of topics in Roman republican history and historiography. Most welcome is the emphasis on evolution and change over time, sometimes dramatic, of Roman political institutions and culture. I am largely persuaded by Flower's conclusion that late republican authors are not trustworthy guides to Roman republican culture since they themselves had never witnessed a properly functioning republican system."--Michael P. Fronda, New England Classical Journal

"There is little doubt that Harriet Flower's book has opened up a field which has been more intensively studied than any other in ancient history. She has given us a new way to look, and new questions to ask. For those reasons alone, this is an important book."--David Rafferty, Melbourne Historical Journal

"Flower deserves full credit for the boldness of her challenge to the traditional approaches. [Her] exciting and illuminating study will long remain essential reading for everyone with a serious interest in what I shall persist in calling the Roman Republic."--John Rich, Journal of Roman Studies

"The book is very well produced. . . . Flower's book, which offers stimulating insights, will doubtless contribute to the ongoing discussion on the nature of republican government."--Rachel Feig Vishnia, Scripta Classica Israelica

From the Back Cover

"Written in a lively generalist's style, Roman Republics is a major contribution to the study of the Roman republic that will appeal to readers far beyond the field of classics. Harriet Flower proposes a stunningly original reconceptualization of the almost 500-year period that has traditionally been called the 'Roman republic.' Her book also provides an unexpected bonus as an ultra-readable, reliable, and brief guide to five centuries of Roman history. Accessible yet challenging, Roman Republics will persuade many and (thankfully) infuriate some. It should cause quite a stir."--T. Corey Brennan, Rutgers University

"This is a very good and extremely stimulating book that reflects an unusual level of creative and original thinking and that will become a must-read for undergraduate and graduate seminars on Roman history. I for one have already decided to reorganize my own course along the lines Harriet Flower proposes. I am not aware of any other book that makes the same claims or that even questions the traditional periodization of the Roman republic."--Kurt A. Raaflaub, Brown University

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A solid re-reading of the Roman Republic. 14 May 2011
By The Historian - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is a solid, brief and challenging history of the Roman Republic. I always thought of the period 509-31BC as a single aggressive republic, increasing its territories, money and population and dealing with the pros and cons this expansion bought and building a civilization within laws and protocols. The author sets out 3 parts; part 1 deals with the development of the framework of the Republic, then part 2 deals with innovation and change and the last part is concerned with the breakdown and aftermath from Sulla to Octavian. The author ends up detailing thirteen periods of time including six republics.

The period 509 to 451 BC consists of a pre republic and a proto republic, so the first Republic starts around 450 BC. l am just a lay historian but l thoroughly enjoyed this book, crisply written and logical with a deep insight into the multi layered history of Rome, and a joy to read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Smart, well-written reanalyis 6 Jun. 2013
By David Kn. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Flower's thesis is that the Roman Republic is best understood as a sequence of very different republics, punctuated with more-or-less tumultuous transitional periods, and finally collapsing, not so much in one specific crisis, but in a long, explicable process of increasing disruption and violence, the old structures failing, and the Romans unwilling to adapt and compromise to meet changing conditions. Flower points out that this very unwillingness to adapt was a novelty in a society that had been willing and able to peaceably compromise and reform its republic, sometimes quite radically, in ages past.

Flower is very perceptive and modern in her political analysis. Her characters seem real and believably complex in their motivations, not the cardboard cut-outs with confusingly repetitive names of some Roman histories. If there is one flaw in her book it is that it is (as she admits) a bare outline of concept and method, and does not go into her analysis of these crucial political events in detail.

This is not an introductory, or probably even an intermediate-level book. Flower assumes that you know the facts (and not just the "basic" ones) of Roman history; she is primarily interested in presenting her interpretation. As a reasonably well-read layman, I struggled at times, and had to look more than a few things up. But if you have a strong interest in Republican Roman history and politics, I strongly recommend this book.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Many republics 23 Oct. 2010
By Seth Williams - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great read. I like how she tries to think through problems in periodization, in sorting out the details of the structure of the Republic as it is altered through time. To me it makes more sense of how events worked. The Republic after Sulla was unlike the Republic of Maruis, and even more, of the Gracchi. That helps us understand the quickening pace of events as they spin toward empire.
4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Not as important as the author thinks 6 Mar. 2012
By Dr Garry - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a revision of my earlier review, in which I upgrade my opinion of this work.

I tend to agree with the reviewer Jared Branch. This work adds somewhat to my understanding of the Roman republic: Prof Flower does make a few points of interest that had never occured to me (such as that traditional Republican politics was effectively killed by the 1st triumvirate), but her grand re-periodisation scheme is not as helpful as she makes out. However, I grant her that her concept of the "Republic of the Nobiles" is an excellent concept.

Prof Flower proposes a new periodisation of the Roman republic, which she claims to be a radical new way of looking at the republic(s). She annoyingly keeps using the word "nuanced" to describe her new scheme: I would substitute the word "confusing".

Prof Flower puts before us a few dates of her own choosing (450, 366, 300, 180, 139 BC) which she claims mark changes so critical that they create new republics. She claims that these dates are vastly more important than the dates silly old traditionalists have deemed important (such as the sack of Rome by the Gauls, or the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus).

Moreover, Prof Flower does her argument no favours in her prose and her structure. She sets out her reasons for each demarcation in throwaway sentences (it was the Lex Villia Annalis!), and never sets out a solid argument to justify her decisions. Then rather than explicating her new scheme, with one chapter for each of her new periods, she dances around for 200 pages, coyly proferring a clue here and there as to why Republic X ended and Republic Y started.

I had earlier written that this book was worthless. I retract that, but I think Prof Flower could have done a better job.
0 of 11 people found the following review helpful
For a class 18 Feb. 2013
By Nicole - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I only had to read the first three chapters and that was all that was required as per my course syllabus...
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