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The History of Ancient Rome Lecture

The History of Ancient Rome

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Audible Editor Reviews

One of the most powerful and influential Empires of the Ancient world, the Roman Empire, is explored in The Great Courses' The History of Ancient Rome. This historical audiobook is skillfully narrated by Professor Garrett G. Fagan, who takes listeners through the major events and noteworthy figures, as well as a cultural exploration of this vast and resilient Empire. This book informs listeners of the historical significance this mighty Empire had on shaping the modern world we know today. It is engaging as much as it is educational. Available now from Audible.

Publisher's Summary

Even today, the influence of Ancient Rome is indelible, with Europe and the world owing this extraordinary empire a huge cultural debt in almost every important category of human endeavor, including art, architecture, engineering, language, literature, law, and religion. At the peak of its power, Rome's span was vast. In the regional, restless, and shifting history of continental Europe, the Roman Empire stands as a towering monument to scale and stability, unified in politics and law, stretching from the sands of Syria to the moors of Scotland. And it stood for almost 700 years.

In this series of 48 spirited lectures, you'll see how a small village of shepherds and farmers rose to tower over the civilized world of its day and left a permanent mark on history. In telling Rome's riveting story, Professor Fagan draws on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, including recent historical and archaeological scholarship, to introduce the fascinating tale of Rome's rise and decline, including the famous events and personalities that have become so familiar: Horatius at the bridge; Hannibal crossing the Alps during Rome's life-or-death war with Carthage; Caesar being assassinated before a statue of his archrival Pompey; The doomed lovers Antony and Cleopatra; the mad and venal emperors Nero and Caligula; the conversion of Constantine.

The course also addresses one of history's greatest questions: Why did the Roman Empire fall? And you'll learn why most modern scholars believe that the empire did not "fall" at all, but, rather, changed into something very different - the less urbanized, more rural, early medieval world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©1999 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1999 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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  •  
    Jim Vaughan 30/10/2013
    Jim Vaughan 30/10/2013 Member Since 2012
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    "Nilli secundus! Great history, and great value!"

    What have the Romans ever done for us?

    I struggled both in Latin and History at school. The thought then of twenty four hours of lectures on Roman history would have filled me with horror!

    However, I really enjoyed this course - more like a good fireside epic of the story of Rome, the habits and customs of the Roman people, the political intrigues, religious beliefs (including conversion to Christianity) and the final decline - all of which has determined the ground of so much of our own civilisation.

    Professor Fagan tells the story with charm and occasional wit, never lapsing into simply repeating dull facts, but always tying it together in a narrative that bounces along enjoyably, making it always a pleasure to look forward to the next lecture. Although it is forty eight lectures long, my feeling at the end was of having only scratched the surface of this massive subject.

    However, to have such a course, containing so much good teaching, for a single audiobook credit is fantastic value.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 20/02/2015
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    "Really great it makes me want more detail."
    Would you listen to The History of Ancient Rome again? Why?

    I'm doing an OU course and this is great for background info and I can listen in the car. The lecturer makes it so interesting and the characters from so long ago come alive. He doesn't attempt to portray everyone as their myth and where we don't know information he says so.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Spartacus and his rebellion hold a fascination for me, however he is told here as simply a side character in the lecture on Crassus, which is a shame.


    What about Professor Garrett G. Fagan’s performance did you like?

    His timing and ironic comments on the chatracter of some of the people, he brings them to life.


    Any additional comments?

    Would definitely recommend for anyone with a love of history.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Leicester, United Kingdom 13/01/2014
    Andy Leicester, United Kingdom 13/01/2014 Member Since 2010
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    "Very good history"
    If you could sum up The History of Ancient Rome in three words, what would they be?

    Informative, well structure and interesting


    What about Professor Garrett G. Fagan’s performance did you like?

    Very informative an easy style to listen to, some of the asides are quite funny.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Its too huge a subject (and too long) to do in one sitting. There is so much to absorb that I listened one or two lectures at a time.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    john abertillery, United Kingdom 20/07/2017
    john abertillery, United Kingdom 20/07/2017 Member Since 2017
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    "Great Roman history"

    I must say i thoroughly enjoyed these lectures,I have never been to a university lecture in my life before only college lectures on engineering so I didn't really know how I would cope with this Roman history course,I must say I was most impressed with the narration and the content of the lectures,I have read quite a bit of Roman history so I was acquainted with the subject but these lectures seem to make the issues much clearer to me now.
    Highly recommended

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Edinburgh, United Kingdom 03/01/2015
    Jonathan Edinburgh, United Kingdom 03/01/2015 Member Since 2016
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    "An Excellent Account of a Fascinating Story"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this course and recommend it highly. Professor Fagan is not one of the very top lecturers of the Great Courses (e.g. Bob Brier, Kenneth Vickery, Robert Greenberg) but his low-key style grew on me very quickly and I became absolutely captivated by this course. Detail is given where appropriate but also omitted where it gets in the way. There is a very good mixture of historical narrative and discussions of social issues (the "thematic lectures" as Professor Fagan calls them) and these components are well integrated. As with all Great Courses I recommend looking at the Great Courses web site for more information about content. One final comment -- Professor Fagan has another Great Course, on Emperors of Rome. I made the mistake of listening to that first; although the Emperors course works as a freestanding item, it would have been better as a follow-up to this course. (Also the Emperors course is not as good in my view). If you want a thorough and detailed introduction to Ancient Rome, this course is absolutely perfect.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Davey Crockett Norfolk, England 14/05/2014
    Davey Crockett Norfolk, England 14/05/2014 Member Since 2015

    I am 60 yrs old an avid reader and listener of literature. Since my spinal disability has worsened I find listening to audio books easier

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    "Great help in Studying Ancient history"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The History of Ancient Rome to be better than the print version?

    This audible, I found very interesting and helpful in increasing my knowledge of Rome. I have a degree in Ancient History from the OU and this recording gave me further insight into the power struggle that existed throughout the time of Rome as a player in World Politics.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Probably, Julius Caesar. However, he was merely one of the catalysts that led to the rise of Rome under the emperors. Although, Octavian / Augustus Caesar was the first Emperor / self declared god of the Romans.


    What about Professor Garrett G. Fagan’s performance did you like?

    Yes, it made the audio easy to listen to and made Rome seem almost come to life.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Emotional reactions do not come into the subject matter. However, Professor Fagan's style did cement my feeling that certainly from the triumvirate on Rome was gradually falling into the ways of a degenerating empire and finally collapsed in on itself, making it fairly easy for opposing forces to defeat and gradually remove the force that was Rome from any of the World Powers


    Any additional comments?

    I would recommend this audio to anyone wanting to study Rome.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacqui Bray 05/05/2017
    Jacqui Bray 05/05/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "an encyclopedia of Ancient Roman history "

    I am not a history scholar but have developed a fascination for ancient history and myths.
    This series of lectures forms an excellent foundation to lead the way into more detailed exploration.
    The depth of knowledge of Professor Fagan is immense and the construction of the lectures must have taken considerable time and thought.
    I will miss hearing the Irish accent and will definitely search out more of his work.
    Now need to decide on my next sojourn into the past - British history or Chinese perhaps, or maybe Indian...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan 25/01/2017
    Ryan 25/01/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "The very best of the Great Courses."
    What did you like best about this story?

    The lectures were very well structured, a necessity considering the grand scale of the course. Narrative lectures were regularly separated by those focussing on more detailed discussion.


    What about Professor Garrett G. Fagan’s performance did you like?

    Professor Fagan came across as very enthusiastic throughout, regularly throwing in amusing anecdotes and matching the tone of his subject matter perfectly. I have since bought all of his work with the Great Courses and hope he will do another soon.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    If I could I would, as a lecture series it's far too long for that.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Chadwick 26/08/2016 Member Since 2016
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    "brilliant story"

    easy to follow and brilliant narrating all the way through. absolutly superb a a a

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jon Dickenson 21/04/2016
    Jon Dickenson 21/04/2016 Member Since 2013
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    "Absorbing"

    Totally enjoyed the performance and the material. Detailed enough to be thoroughly interesting but not so detailed that you get bored. Very much recommended

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Sean
    Allora, Australia
    05/10/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Accessible"
    Any additional comments?

    As an amateur with a long interest in Roman History I found this series highly engaging and incredibly informative.<br/>Professor Fagan has an easy style and the content is simply brilliant. The flow of the narrative is superb and the connection to the thematic section of the course is well constructed.<br/>I have read bits of Pliny and currently I am reading Gibbon. I feel these are works that require a solid base in Roman History prior to attacking and I now feel like I am armed to teeth thanks to this course.<br/>Thoroughly recommended to anyone with anything from a passing interest to a life long love affair with Roman History.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Sad Donkey
    Wedemark, Germany
    27/10/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic"

    Prof. Fagan was able to rekindle my love of ancient history. Having been out of undergrad for many years now, I had forgotten how much fun "otium cum dignitate" can be. We all find ourselves drawn into our respective specialities (for me, medicine), only reading those books or papers directly relevant to our jobs. We forget what it is like to learn for the sake of learning.

    This course took me back to the Western Civ, Latin and Philosophy courses in my undergrad years, which were wonderful for their own sakes. Not because I _need_ to know this stuff, but because I _want_ to.

    The courses are laid out very well with a clear outline, concise topics and a logical progression. Each lecture can stand on its own, yet it builds on those before it. The storytelling employed is exemplary and draws you in. It made my daily commute much more productive and entertaining. The hour per day I sit in my car becomes my "otium cum dignitate" again.

    Next step: relearn Latin!

    I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in renewing their own curiosity. It you have a trip to Rome planned, it certainly can have practical uses as well.

    20 of 21 people found this review helpful
  • Megan Clanton
    Nashville, TN, United States
    28/07/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So Much Better Than Reading a History Book!"

    ... And I do love to read!

    I'm currently about halfway through Professor Fagan's "The History of Ancient Rome" in Audible's Great Courses, and it's been well-worth every minute. I am a high school Latin teacher, and I needed a good refresher course on Roman history, as it's been a long time since college. Not only is the material fantastic (despite early attempts to just listen while doing laundry, etc., I've planted myself in front of my laptop because I can't stop taking notes), but Dr. Fagan is an entertaining speaker. (He has a wonderful accent.) The combination has made Roman history far easier to get through than would be a traditional textbook.

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Deep Reader
    Earth
    27/11/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brings Roman History to Life"

    As a fan of history, you cannot get much better than this. This Great Courses offering paints a vivid picture of Rome based on the information available today, and presents various academic opinions when trying to fill in the blanks.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Mike
    New Jersey
    27/02/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Fine But Very General Overview of Roman History"
    Any additional comments?

    This is a good read for anyone who wants a broad overview of the history of Rome. The lecturer does a great job delivering his content and he covers Roman history from its origins in myth, legend, and archaeology as a series of settlements on the banks of the Tiber and continues its journey through its monarchical period, the Roman Republic, the Imperial period, and ends around the fall of the Western part of the Roman empire in the 5th century AD. He is thorough and roughly chronological in his presentation.<br/><br/>However, anyone who considers listening to this should understand that this audio book is "broad" in the fullest sense of the word. The lecturer makes no attempt at being comprehensive and tells his listeners time and again that he cannot and does not make an attempt to treat any topic in great depth. This means that anyone looking for a thorough overview of any aspect of Roman history and culture, such as literature, art, architecture, religion, military history, political history, or even the careers of indispensable figures such as Caesar himself should look elsewhere. This was my only "disappointment" with this book. I entered into it hoping to learn much more about many of these specific elements, but left feeling like I had learned only a very little about a very lot of material. I do not think this is any fault of the book or the lecturer though. There is so much potential content to cover that one has go to more specialized studies if you want to go into any depth. So in summary this book will give you a good overview, but only an overview. Those who already know a lot about Roman history will find little to learn here, but those who don't or have only a vague sense of it will definitely benefit.<br/><br/>All told this is a good overview of Roman history and a worthwhile listen. Enjoy your travels to the ancient Mediterranean!

    16 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • Joey
    Avondale Estates, GA, United States
    04/02/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Terrific Overview"
    Where does The History of Ancient Rome rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The best


    What did you like best about this story?

    Well paced, with narrative giving way to thematic discussions toward the end; professor is extremely knowledgeable with sense of humor that leavens the topic just enough


    Have you listened to any of Professor Garrett G. Fagan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    no, but 1-1.5 hours at a time was not uncommon


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Michael J Canning
    12/04/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Like listening to the Cliffs Notes version"

    I was disappointed with this course. I found it a superficial and unsatisfying listen. There were a few really excellent and perceptive lectures, but that was more the exception than the rule. I don't think the shortcomings are Fagan's, but more due to the format, which consists of lectures that average about 20 min each, and don't allow for much analysis. Even Fagan seems frustrated by this - constantly reminding listener of and apologizing for the many things that he will not have time to mention on the course.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Ark1836
    02/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well-Done"

    Let me first preface my review by saying that I was a history major in college, and I have long had an interest in Ancient Rome. I have read many books and watched many documentaries on the topic over the decades. So, I am not a newcomer to this topic, but I still learned things in this course. The professor is cogent and organized and provides a good timeline. My main complaint is that this is a little too much of a broad survey course for such a nuanced and important part of history. The later part of Roman history especially gets short shrift, though, to his credit, the professor warns the listeners at the beginning of his intent. He justifies this at least somewhat by arguing there is a nebulous line between the end of late Roman period and the beginning of the early Medieval period. While there is an argument to be made for his approach, I wish this one of the Great Course's 60 lesson classes to give enough time to do more justice to the Imperial and late Roman periods. That being said, I will give the professor the benefit of the doubt that he did not have a say as to the length of the course.

    I really liked the professor's tempo of switching between political and social history. He struck a very nice balance, which is often hard to do with many courses becoming overly dominated by one or the other.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Micky_spanish
    Houston
    18/04/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Incredibly Interesting"

    Prof. Fagan tells it in a great narrative way to make you want to keeps coming back for more.

    P.S. look up "ad hoc" if you don't know what it means, he'll say it a lot.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mika
    16/03/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Concise, Entertaining, and Educational"

    An excellent series of lectures that is well delivered and sufficiently thorough in each lesson to provide understanding, while concise enough to still get through the breadth of the topic without boring the audience. Very clear and well-spoken narrator who is personable and addresses more than just one side of history or his opinion.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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