The Roman Empire at Bay: Ad 180-395 / Edition 1

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David S. Potter's comprehensive survey of two critical and eventful centuries traces the course of imperial decline, skillfully weaving together cultural, intellectual and political history.

Particular attention is paid throughout to the structures of government, the rise of Persia as a rival, and the diverse intellectual movements in the empire. There is also a strong focus on Christianity, transformed in this period from a fringe sect to the leading religion.

Against this detailed background, Potter argues that the loss of power can mainly be attributed to the failure in the imperial elite to respond to changes inside and outside the empire, and to internal struggles for control between different elements in the government, resulting in an inefficient centralization of power at court.

A striking achievement of historical synthesis combined with a compelling interpretative line, The Roman Empire at Bay enables students of all periods to understand the dynamics of great imperial powers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415100588
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 6/17/2004
  • Series: Routledge History of the Ancient World Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 784
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. 1 The shape of the Roman Empire 1
Ch. 1 Culture, ecology and power 3
Ch. 2 Government 38
Pt. 2 Reshaping the old order 83
Ch. 3 Crisis in government 85
Ch. 4 The army in politics; lawyers in government 125
Ch. 5 Intellectual trends in the early third century 173
Pt. III The Roman Empire and its neighbors : 225-99 215
Ch. 6 The failure of the Severan empire 217
Ch. 7 The emergence of a new order 263
Pt. IV The Constantinian empire 299
Ch. 8 Alternative narratives : Manichaeans, Christians and Neoplatonists 301
Ch. 9 Rewritings of the Tetrarchy : 300-13 333
Ch. 10 Restructuring the state : 313-37 364
Ch. 11 Constructing Christianity in an imperial context 401
Pt. V Losing power 441
Ch. 12 Church and state : 337-55 443
Ch. 13 The struggle for control : 355-66 485
Ch. 14 The end of hegemony : 367-95 526
Conclusion : change in the Roman Empire 576
Notes 582
Bibliography 715
Index 752
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2004

    A postmodern empire?

    This is a very uneven piece of work. At one moment it can be very helpful -- e.g., the author's comments on Elagabalus' behaviors, the nature of the Decian 'persecution,' or the place of Christianity within the Constantinian empire -- or merely quirky, as in his habit of referring to the principate as 'the monarchy.' The book's greatest flaw, however, is that although its author avoids the jargon and tortured language of the so-called postmodern criticism, enough of the former (narrative, text, encoding) is included to warn the reader of the methodology being used. The result is a dreary account which, typically, reduces the history of the later Empire to a series of power games between rival groups and its telling to the identification of the winners' propagandas. Not surprisingly, then, the author's own 'subtext' emerges from time to time, as in his evenomed critique of Ambrose of Milan. In the end, one is left with the impression that he himself feels no empathy with those whose history he writes and would prefer his readers to have none, too. I am surprised that Professor Millar would agree to the inclusion of a work like this in an otherwise excellent series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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