24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 2008
The early history of Rome was a big mystery to me. I could recall some of the names and deeds of the early mythological kings, but when it came to the Early Republic I was at a loss when the subject wasn't about Lucius Brutus or Cincinnatus. This book helped introduce me to the key players of this period.
Rather than being a narrative history of the Republic, this book covers the biographies of some of the great and lesser known politicians and generals of the years 753 BC to 31 BC. It starts with a look at Rome's founder, the mythological hero Romulus, and ends with a look at Octavian, the man who would become Emperor Augustus.
The book is divided into four sections - The Age of Kings 753-509 BC; Founders of the Republic 509-264 BC; Romans of the Mid-Republic 264-100 BC; and the Last Republicans 100-31 BC. Each section covers the lives of some of the notables of the age, for instance in the Founders of the Republic we have 10 biographies including a look at the lives of Horatius Cocles, Coriolanus, and Appius Claudius the Decemvir.
Every section is beautifully illustrated and packed with information. Charts give you the basic facts about a certain individual's family, achievements etc, a running timeline at the bottom of the page allows you to put these lives into the context of the period, while maps, photographs and illustrations adorn the pages. There are 293 illustrations in all, and they cover things such as portraits, art and archaeology, and diagrams and battle plans.
As well as the biographical sections, there also other shorter sections that include information on daily life in the Republic. These include a look at Gladiators, Vestal Virgins, Roman Roads, The Twelve Tables, Romans Farms and so on. These shorter sections give you a basic understanding of the Republic's society and culture.
All in all this a fascinating, well written, copiously illustrated, and well edited introduction to the Republic. Interested amateurs will find this a brilliant introduction to the period, while dedicated Romanophiles will no doubt find this book an excellent supplement and reference guide to the Classical accounts. Highly Recommended!
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2005
This book is a great introduction for those seeking to gain some insight into who the leaders of the early Roman republic were. each person is given from one to a couple of pages where their achievements and failures are presented. The book conatins many illustrations, and several sidebars with information about life in the Roman republic.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 July 2014
This is probably the best account that will be written of the personalities and political activities of one of the most fascinating and best documented periods of ancient times. The time scale accepted in it is that of Livy, who lived and wrote at the very end of the period. He certainly pushes the history, as against the antiquity, of Rome a good deal further back than the early days of the period merit. There is a problem in that encyclopaedias have accepted and perpetuated much that is false in time scales and personal assessments of some major figures. The personal assessments are largely those of the protagonists, in the case of Cicero and Caesar in particular. Livy endeavoured a time scale for Rome commensurate with the Olympic calendar in use in his day. He missed by a decade or two. There is much fictive material of this kind included, which has all been dogmatised by classics departments. It is for that reason the book is a must for any one with examinations to sit. Lucid, readable, attractively presented, both author and publishers have done themselves proud. A good buy but keep your questioning antennae focused.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2013
This well-written book gives a detailed summary of Roman history from the mythological accounts of its founding fathers Romulus and Remus, through to the Dynastic Period and Octavian, who was to become Emperor Augustus. There is also a wealth of illustrations - from maps of the time to busts / statues of the individuals described. The information is presented in a chronological order and although each chapter can be read separately, there is consequently a degree of overlap / repetition if the publication is read sequentially from start to finish. Nevertheless, this work will prove to be a major reference source for an introduction to Roman History for both formal study and personal interest alike.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Great book that takes you from Romulus-Octavian (750 BC-14 AD). There's a biography of each emperor and many illustrations, maps, information on Roman life etc, giving the reader an excellent knowledge of this era. Characters who were just names to me, now have meaning! Incidentally this volume is followed by the equally good Chronicle of the Roman emperors covering the subsequent dynasties
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2010
This is an excellent addition to any person's library that is interested in Roman history. It starts with the myth of Romulus and Remus and ends with the reign of Augustus.
The section of each personality is written in a balanced, objective view and there are some nice supporting paragraphs with notes on subjects such as Hannibal, to the correct way to fit a toga.
My only problem with this book is that the section on Caesar seems to have lost all objectivity and Matyszak goes out of his way to discredit and personally blame Caesar for all the faults of the late Republic.