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Pax Romana: War, Peace, and Conquest in the Roman World

Pax Romana: War, Peace, and Conquest in the Roman World

by Adrian Goldsworthy
Pax Romana: War, Peace, and Conquest in the Roman World

Pax Romana: War, Peace, and Conquest in the Roman World

by Adrian Goldsworthy


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The leading ancient world historian and author of Caesar presents “an engrossing account of how the Roman Empire grew and operated” (Kirkus).

Renowned for his biographies of Julius Caesar and Augustus, Adrian Goldsworthy turns his attention to the Roman Empire as a whole during its height in the first and second centuries AD. Though this time is known as the Roman Peace, or Pax Romana, the Romans were fierce imperialists who took by force vast lands stretching from the Euphrates to the Atlantic coast. The Romans ruthlessly won peace not through coexistence but through dominance; millions died and were enslaved during the creation of their empire.
Pax Romana examines how the Romans came to control so much of the world and asks whether traditionally favorable images of the Roman peace are true. Goldsworthy vividly recounts the rebellions of the conquered, examining why they broke out, why most failed, and how they became exceedingly rare. He reveals that hostility was just one reaction to the arrival of Rome and that from the outset, conquered peoples collaborated, formed alliances, and joined invaders, causing resistance movements to fade away.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300222265
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 09/06/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 545
Sales rank: 285,552
File size: 22 MB
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About the Author

Adrian Goldsworthy has a doctorate in ancient history from Oxford University. His first book, The Roman Army at War, was recognized by Sir John Keegan as an exceptionally impressive work, original in treatment and impressive in style. He has gone on to write several other books, which have sold more than a quarter of a million copies and been translated into more than a dozen languages. A full-time author, he regularly contributes to TV documentaries on Roman themes.


Why this book?
Peace is always a rare and precious thing and this makes the “Roman Peace” all the more remarkable, and I wanted to understand how it came about. I wanted also to understand what the Roman Empire meant to the people who lived in it. What was it like for the other peoples in the ancient world who found themselves living next to the Roman Empire, or were incorporated into it, whether by force or choice? It is simplistic to demonize empires—just as it once was to celebrate them uncritically—and there is a danger of turning conquered peoples into passive and virtuous victims of imperialist aggression. The truth is more complicated, and looking at Roman power from the viewpoint of Romans and outsiders provides many relevant insights to our own world.

But wasn’t "Pax Romana" the peace imposed by the victors, whose conceit was that they were bringing civilization to barbarians?

The Romans fought a lot of wars, and never granted other peoples equal status. Other kingdoms and states were either allies or real or potential enemies. Peace made Rome and its allies safe. Only once they were well on their way to establishing a large and permanent empire did the Romans begin to talk of a duty to bring peace, order, and the rule of law to a wider world. This was not achieved solely or even primarily by force. People wanted to be Roman. Peace became a reality, even if imperfect.

Praise for Caesar:

"This book makes and insightfully explains the leap from Caesar the soldier and general to Caesar the statesman and nation builder. It's better than any book I've ever read on him, and more incisive."—Wall Street Journal

"An authoritative and exciting portrait not only of Caesar but of the complex society in which he lived."—Steven Coates, New York Times Book Review

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