Rome: A Living Portrait of an Ancient City

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Stephen L. Dyson has spent a lifetime studying and teaching the history of ancient Rome. His unparalleled knowledge is reflected in this magisterial overview of the Eternal City.

Rather than look only at the physical development of the city-its buildings, monuments, and urban spaces-Dyson also explores its social, economic, and cultural histories. This unique approach situates Rome against a background of comparative urban history and theory, allowing Dyson to examine the dynamic society that once thrived there. In his reconstruction of the city, Dyson populates its streets with the hurried politicians, hawking vendors, and animated students that once lived, worked, and studied there, bringing the ancient city to life for a new generation of students and tourists.

Dyson follows Rome as it developed between the third century BC and the fourth century AD, dividing the great megalopolis into distinct neighborhoods and locals. He shows how these communities, each with its own unique customs and colorful inhabitants, eventually grew into the great imperial capital of the Italian Empire.

Dyson integrates the full range of sources available-literary, artistic, epigraphic, and archaeological-to create a comprehensive history of the monumental city. In doing so, he offers a dramatic picture of a complex and changing urban center that, despite its flaws, flourished for centuries.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Roman Studies - Jerry Toner

This book successfully manages to link the tangible remains to the wider themes of Roman history.


An important addition to the literature on classical Rome... Highly recommended.


An important addition to the literature on classical Rome... Highly recommended.

Oxbow Book News

This exploration of Rome and what happened there seeks not only to examine the physical and structural evolution of the city from earliest times until the early Christian era, but also to explore its social and cultural history.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801892547
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 5/17/2010
  • Series: Ancient Society and History Series
  • Pages: 488
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen L. Dyson is a professor of classics at the University at Buffalo and has spent his career writing about archaeology and Roman history. His numerous books include In Pursuit of Ancient Pasts: A History of Classical Archaeology in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, The Roman Countryside, and Community and Society in Roman Italy, also published by Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

Preface xv

1 Approaching the Ancient City 1

2 The Creation of the Ancient Megalopolis of Rome 17

3 Rome after Hannibal 44

4 From Sulla to Octavian 79

5 The Creation of the Imperial City 117

6 The Consolidation of the Imperial City 156

7 The Antonine City 192

8 Neighborhoods, Pathways, and Rituals of the Imperial City 214

9 Supply, Service, and Productivity: The Urban Economy of Ancient Rome 241

10 The People of Imperial Rome 264

11 On the Fringe: Rome beyond the Pomerium 295

12 The Prelude to the Christian City 335

Notes 363

Glossary of Latin Terms 421

Bibliography 427

Index 451

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