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The History of Ancient Rome

Narrated by: Garrett G. Fagan
Length: 22 hrs and 40 mins
Categories: History, Ancient
4.5 out of 5 stars (259 ratings)

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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.

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

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Lecture Titles

1 Introduction
2 The Sources
3 Pre-Roman Italy and the Etruscans
4 The Foundation of Rome
5 The Kings of Rome
6 Regal Society

7 The Beginnings of the Republic
8 The Struggle of the Orders
9 Roman Expansion in Italy
10 The Roman Confederation in Italy
11 The International Scene on the Eve of Roman Expansion
12 Carthage and the First Punic War

13 The Second Punic (or Hannibalic) War
14 Rome in the Eastern Mediterranean
15 Explaining the Rise of the Roman Empire
16 “The Captured Conqueror” - Rome and Hellenism
17 Governing the Roman Republic, Part I - Senate and Magistrates
18 Governing the Roman Republic, Part II - Popular Assemblies and Provincial Administration

19 The Pressures of Empire
20 The Gracchi Brothers
21 Marius and Sulla
22 “The Royal Rule of Sulla”
23 Sulla’s Reforms Undone
24 Pompey and Crassus

25 The First Triumvirate
26 Pompey and Caesar
27 “The Domination of Caesar”
28 Social and Cultural Life in the Late Republic
29 Antony and Octavian
30 The Second Triumvirate

31 Octavian Emerges Supreme
32 The New Order of Augustus
33 The Imperial Succession
34 The Julio-Claudian Dynasty
35 The Emperor in the Roman World
36 The Third-Century Crisis

37 The Shape of Roman Society
38 Roman Slavery
39 The Family
40 Women in Roman Society
41 An Empire of Cities
42 Public Entertainment, Part I - The Roman Baths and Chariot Racing

43 Public Entertainment, Part II - Gladiatorial Games
44 Roman Paganism
45 The Rise of Christianity
46 The Restoration of Order
47 Constantine and the Late Empire
48 Thoughts on the “Fall” of the Roman Empire

ps. Come on Audible update the website so chapters titles are published !!

15 people found this helpful

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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.

15 people found this helpful

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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.

5 people found this helpful

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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.

4 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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.

4 people found this helpful

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Informative and Thought provoking

I thought this audio book was brilliantly done, rather than a chronological tick box exercise the speaker is adept at explaining wider themes and explaining the different narratives that make up the history of the Roman Empire without just listing dates and events.

He also has a good sense of humour at points when going into some of the more bizzare events that happened.

1 person found this helpful

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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 person found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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Rome wasn't built in a day - It takes 22hrs 42mins

Where does The History of Ancient Rome rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This title is definitely in my top 3 amongst some very stiff competition. I was enthralled from start to finish. Some audiobooks I've read, I just can't wait to end but I have to finish them - once this book started I was dreading it!

What was one of the most memorable moments of The History of Ancient Rome?

As a City Councillor, I was amazed at how similar politics was then as it is today - both in terms of the political set-up and the behaviour of politicians!

What does Professor Garrett G. Fagan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Professor Fagan is a very good narrator. He is an expert in his field with a sense of humour that comes across throughout the lectures. Professor Fagan's humour and comments throughout often reflect his personal opinions on certain actions of behaviour, which gives you a perspective to think about and consider, whether you agree with him or not. I don't often write reviews, but felt that his personality and emotional input was deserving of a cracking review. I would like others to share the fantastic experience. Professor Fagan is my hero.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This book was a shock to the system. I enjoyed it so much that I have even sometimes reflected that I wish I'd studied the topic at University as an undergraduate; I read Politics.

Any additional comments?

I listened to another audiobook on Ancient Rome before this one and really did not enjoy it too much. That book was only redeemed by one top-notch chapter on Rome in Numbers, using stats and figures to give a perspective of the Ancient World. I almost gave up on the topic, then this Lecture series caught my eye. If you're considering learning about Ancient Rome and haven't tried the Great Lecture Series - cross the Rubicon, 'cast the die' and give Professor Fagan a chance.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ark1836
  • 02-05-17

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.

34 people found this helpful

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  • George
  • 26-04-15

Fascinating Journey!

Would you listen to The History of Ancient Rome again? Why?

The material was compelling and a journey into the past by a great professor.

What did you like best about this story?

The profound amount of change and struggle on how Rome evolved. I never knew and so glad I bought this.

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

I thought he spoke very well and for the amount of info I had to learn his cadence and tone was very good and I was hooked and attentive throughout and would buy another w/him.

Any additional comments?

I missed out on this history during HS and College and my curiosity led me to this book. I listened on way to work for about 4 weeks, one lesson each day, before my trip to Italy. I always wanted to know about this history and found it truly fascinating and exciting to learn something I may have missed. I'd never go read this and audio made it the only way to go. I think worth the investment of time if you want to round out your knowledge base on the world this is a must.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Michael J Canning
  • 12-04-15

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.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 27-02-14

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.

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.

All told this is a good overview of Roman history and a worthwhile listen. Enjoy your travels to the ancient Mediterranean!

29 people found this helpful

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  • Sean
  • 05-10-13

Accessible

Any additional comments?

As an amateur with a long interest in Roman History I found this series highly engaging and incredibly informative.
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.
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.
Thoroughly recommended to anyone with anything from a passing interest to a life long love affair with Roman History.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Joey
  • 04-02-14

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

4 people found this helpful

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  • Megan Clanton
  • 28-07-13

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.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Sad Donkey
  • 27-10-13

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.

22 people found this helpful

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  • EmilyK
  • 04-07-17

Favorite intro to Ancient Rome

This is my favorite of the Great Courses. I find all their history series enjoyable but this is truly superb.
- It holds up well and is understandable even if you have little to no background knowledge, but is also enjoyable even if you know much of the material.
- Fagan has an excellent balance of covering the facts and the story, yet also alerting the listener to major schools of interpretation. (Some of the teaching company courses assume a basic knowledge of the information, which can then make them difficult for the beginner.)
- Fagan has a wonderful accent and delivery style, and even a bit of dark humor.

This was so good I'm looking for his other courses and might re-listen to this one. I was so very sorry to see that he died recently, much too soon.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Micky_spanish
  • 18-04-17

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.

3 people found this helpful