End Of The Past / Edition 1

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Overview

This searching interpretation of past and present addresses fundamental questions about the fall of the Roman Empire. Why did ancient culture, once so strong and rich, come to an end? Was it destroyed by weaknesses inherent in its nature? Or were mistakes made that could have been avoided—was there a point at which Greco-Roman society took a wrong turn? And in what ways is modern society different?
Western history is split into two discontinuous eras, Aldo Schiavone tells us: the ancient world was fundamentally different from the modern one. He locates the essential difference in a series of economic factors: a slave-based economy, relative lack of mechanization and technology, the dominance of agriculture over urban industry. Also crucial are aspects of the ancient mentality: disdain for manual work, a preference for transcending (rather than transforming) nature, a basic belief in the permanence of limits.
Schiavone’s lively and provocative examination of the ancient world, “the eternal theater of history and power,” offers a stimulating opportunity to view modern society in light of the experience of antiquity.
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Editorial Reviews

Booklist - Jay Freeman
In the middle of the second century A.D., the brilliance of Graeco-Roman civilization and the relative stability provided by the Pax Romana seemed to promise a benign, even glorious, future. With hindsight, we can see the ultimately fatal fissures that lay beneath the surface. In this difficult but often fascinating work, Schiavone examines the extent to which our own civilization is an heir to that glittering age. Did the long decline of the empire, which is generally assumed to have begun late in the second century, result in a permanent rupture in the thread of history? If so, does our cultural heritage own far more to the medieval world than to the classical? This is an important and complicated question, and to appreciate and comprehend Schiavone's thesis, knowledge of classical history is essential. Readers with the necessary background should find this a stimulating and provocative work.
New York Times - Paul Mattick
Why did the Roman Empire decline and fall instead of developing into some version of the world as we know it? This is the question Aldo Schiavone…asks, and answers, in this fascinating book… The association of work with slavery transformed the aristocratic disdain for labor into an inability even to think about improving productivity… The result, Schiavone argues in prose both readable and learned…was an institutional and intellectual gulf between the ancient and modern worlds so deep that it took a catastrophe—the fall of Rome—to pass from one to the other.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674009837
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2002
  • Series: Revealing Antiquity Series , #13
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 0.66 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Aldo Schiavone is Full Professor in Roman Law at the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane, of which he was the founder, and the Director from 2006 until 2010.
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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

1. A Golden Age

2. Why Not Then?

3. The Hidden Form

4. Optical Effects

5. The Rhythms of the Economy

6. Dual Equilibria

7. The Roman Miracle and Imperial Rationality

8. Nobles and Merchants

9. Slaves, Nature, Machines

10. Ancient and Modern Work: Three Philosophers

11. A Blind Alley between Economics and Politics

12. How History Works

Notes

Index

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