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Fifty-two years, five editions , , , , , and more than as many reprints since it first appeared, From the Gracchi to Nero is still praised by some of the greatest contemporary scholars of Roman history, whose laudes are listed on the first page of the front matter of the edition here under review. It is in fact four and a half pages long.
Scullard is judicious and learned, yet also unassuming and generally accessible; and, finally, he writes well. Style, after all, abides. Rathbone does not really make good his promise to estimate the impact of From the Gracchi to Nero ; nor is it necessary to do so. It is, unsurprisingly, a traditional history that dwells on the politics and campaigns of Great Men. The advocacy of individual freedom also appears in the condemnation of statist control.
Much more could and should be said about From the Gracchi to Nero as a textbook in the twenty-first century. Obviously, there is much dated content in a book last revised in The manner in which Scullard writes a brief epitaph after the death of a famous Roman in passages that might serve well as English texts for Latin translation exercises harkens back to the ancients themselves.
The reader watches the Republic fall like a tall building that comes crashing down as its leaders succumb to decadence and vice. This story of virtue and vice simplifies the history of a troubled age. This tendency is related to one of the less edifying qualities of the work. Scullard advocates throughout a kind of Italian nationalism that is surprising from an author writing after the rise and fiery collapse of fascism in Europe:. A Livy or Sallust might think so. Augustus himself is transformed into a model of good-old-fashioned Italian or perhaps English?
Modern readers should also be warned that From the Gracchi to Nero is very much a pre-colonial work of scholarship. Scullard at times betrays a complacency toward imperialism that is unthinkable today. Finally, one of the less obvious characteristics of the work: From the Gracchi to Nero might better be called From the Gracchi to St. The selflessness expected of the Romans suggests a Christian message, and Christian coloring throughout the book seems to confirm it: Ti.
Later, Scullard is explicit:. Few contemporaries…can have realized that the most important event for the future of the Roman empire as well as for the later world…was the life and teaching of Jesus Christ in Palestine under the procuratorship of Pilate who, yielding to the hatred of the Jews, ordered his crucifixion. The book ends with the evangelism of St. Paul, whose mission to the gentiles is facilitated by the pax Romana and whose life is saved initially anyway by possession of Roman citizenship The teleological urgency of Italian unification and the harmony of the Roman Empire become intelligible, as St.
Augustine argued long ago. Every great history eventually becomes a nuisance to contemporary historians. Many things made and make From the Gracchi to Nero a great book: The lengthy chronological table in the front is ideal for study. The work breathes an air of confident, competent scholarship, and the extensive notes give a veritable snapshot of a great generation of English scholarship on Rome, with a touch of continental learning.
Sertorius 76 , Spartacus 80 , Mithridates 86 , Pompey f. The days of the city-state were over, and Rome must recognize her responsibilities to the non-political orders in Italy and the provinces. As Rathbone notes xxv , even this reprint of the edition still contains untranslated snippets of Vergil and other phrases, e.
Skip to content BMCR Routledge Classics. Preview Fifty-two years, five editions , , , , , and more than as many reprints since it first appeared, From the Gracchi to Nero is still praised by some of the greatest contemporary scholars of Roman history, whose laudes are listed on the first page of the front matter of the edition here under review.
Scullard advocates throughout a kind of Italian nationalism that is surprising from an author writing after the rise and fiery collapse of fascism in Europe: …many of the more remote country towns of central Italy must have retained a more untouched Italian way of life, and it was from this healthier source, rather than from the older Hellenized aristocracy or urban mob in Rome that Augustus was to seek regenerative powers for Roman society.
Later, Scullard is explicit: Few contemporaries…can have realized that the most important event for the future of the Roman empire as well as for the later world…was the life and teaching of Jesus Christ in Palestine under the procuratorship of Pilate who, yielding to the hatred of the Jews, ordered his crucifixion.
From the Gracchi to Nero: A History of Rome from 133 BC to AD 68
Reflection on the existing number of histories of Rome might well raise doubt about the desirability of adding to them. But since research does not stand still and its more assured results often take long to reach the handbook, there may be a place for a brief account of this period which lays no claim to originality of interpretation but which attempts to benefit from the work of recent years and to put the reader on the track of some of this for further study. I am conscious of the risks involved in trying to include much in small compass, but present-day production-costs suggest that an author owes a debt of reasonable brevity to both publisher and reader. If some of my younger readers should feel that this book might profitably have been still shorter, I can only assure them that I have tried to be ever mindful of a phrase of Cicero: 'ut brevissime potui'.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review
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