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Fb2 The Severans: The Roman Empire Transformed ePub

by Michael Grant

Category: Humanities
Subcategory: Other
Author: Michael Grant
ISBN: 0415620155
ISBN13: 978-0415620154
Language: English
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (February 16, 2011)
Pages: 160
Fb2 eBook: 1411 kb
ePub eBook: 1800 kb
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The Severans analyses the colourful decline of the Roman Empire during. In his learned and exciting style, Michael Grant describes the foreign wars waged against the Alemanni and the Persians, and the remarkable personalities of the imperial family. Thus the reader encounters Julia Domna's alleged literary circle, or The Severans analyses the colourful decline of the Roman Empire during the reign of the Severans, the first non-Italian dynasty.

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The Severans analyses the colourful decline of the Roman Empire during. Start by marking The Severans: The Roman Empire Transformed as Want to Read: Want to Read savin. ant to Read.

Michael Grant is one of the world's greatest writers on ancient history. His previous publications include: Art in the Roman Empire, Greek and Roman Historians and Who's Who in Classical Mythology all published by Routledge. Michael Grant is one of the world's greatest writers on ancient history. He was formerly a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Professor of Humanities at the University of Edinburgh and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Khartoum and the Queen's University of Belfast. He has published over fifty books.

American Classical League. This book filled in some gaps in my knowledge, as my knowledge of the Roman Empire does not extend much later than 200 . This was a short book without much detail or narrative structure, but that is because the ancient sources reveal so little about this period. The period evidently saw a decline in literary output and quality as well as in military, political, and economic power.

This is a brand new book at a great price. Author Michael Grant. Publication Year 1996.

The Severans analyses the colourful decline of the Roman Empire during the reign of the Severans, the first non-Italian dynasty.

The Antonines is essential reading for anyone who is interested in ancient history, as well as for all students and teachers of the subject.

The Severans: The Roman Empire Transformed (Hardback). Michael Grant (author). With its beautifully selected plate section, maps and extensive bibliography, this book will appeal to the student of ancient history as well as to the general reader.

The Severans analyses the colourful decline of the Roman Empire during the reign of the Severans, the first non-Italian dynasty. In his learned and exciting style, Michael Grant describes the foreign wars waged against the Alemanni and the Persians, and the remarkable personalities of the imperial family. Thus the reader encounters Julia Domna's alleged literary circle, or Elagabalus' curious private life - which included dancing in the streets, marrying a vestal virgin and smothering his enemies with rose petals.With its beautifully selected plate section, maps and extensive bibliography, this book will appeal to the student of ancient history as well as to the general reader.Michael Grant is one of the world's greatest writers on ancient history. His previous publications include: Art in the Roman Empire, Greek and Roman Historians and Who's Who in Classical Mythology all published by Routledge.
Comments to eBook The Severans: The Roman Empire Transformed
Querlaca
This book filled in some gaps in my knowledge, as my knowledge of the Roman Empire does not extend much later than 200 A.D. This was a short book without much detail or narrative structure, but that is because the ancient sources reveal so little about this period. The period evidently saw a decline in literary output and quality as well as in military, political, and economic power. It is amazing that the empire limped along for over two hundred years after the Sevaran dynasty. The decline of the Roman Empire has provoked many analogies, but the empire lasted far longer than the United States has lasted so far, so the jury of history is still out.
Hugifyn
In the aftermath of the strange reign of Commodus, the odd son of Marcus Aurelius came a period of chaos. This is the period which begins Gibbon's Decline and Fall. Into this breach stepped the Severan dynasty which managed to halt the problems that plagued the empire, at least the founder of this dynasty, Lucius Septimius Severus, did so. His successors, though not plagued by outward theats managed to waste any good reputation that the office of emperor managed to garner through increasingly strange and bizarre actions. The women of the Severan dynasty were sometimes ever worse.

Septimius Severus was aclaimed as the emperor by his troops in 193 and like so many generals managed to make himself emperor by eliminating his rivals. The next step was to see the succession through. This he proposed doing by promoting his sons, Caracalla (of the elaborate baths fame) and Geta. Caracalla, as was also often the case among late Roman emperors, was a psychopath and had his brother killed. Caracalla himself was soon eliminated and without an heir leading to another successful general to claim the throne. This emperor was Macrinus and he reigned for one year only. This was due in large measure to the women of the Severan dynasty.

When Septimius Severus became emperor, his Syrian born wife, Julia Domna became empress, and not just consort. Though they presumably clashed over the Praetorian Prefect, Plautanus. With her came her exotic family including her sister, Julia Maesa and other female relations. The succession of Macrinus was a clue to mount a coup to place her strange grandson, Elagablus on the throne.

The oddities of Elagablus are so strange that it is a testimony to the skill of the Syrian women that they were able to put over a sexually confused teen ager as the most powerful ruler in the west for as long as they did. Eventually even they gave up and promoted the candidacy of his cousin Alexander as heir. When this was accomplished, Elagablus was eliminated in the time honored Roman way, political murder.

Julia Mamaea, the mother of Alexander and the daughter of Julia Maesa was the real power behind the throne. Sevrus Alexander as he was styled faced barbarian invasions which luckily did not occur during the reigns of his more colorful relations who were clearly not up to the job. Despite an attempt to impose stronger disciplne on the army, rigid economy on the court and deferance to the senate, both Alexander and Julia Mamaea were deposed in 235 in favor of Maximinus, yet another general in string of them which would follow on up through the chaotic age that followed.

In a brief period, Grant manages to describe the triumphs and trials that the Severans inflicted on the Roman world. While not as distinguished as the "Good Emperors" who came before, they are historically important and represent a stable period of about 40 years before the real rot came to the political life of the Roman world and military power eclipsed all other sources of legitimacy. This is well worth reading as an introduction to the period.
Wishamac
This book brings out more clearly the flaws in his previous book. He maintains that "By the time of Septimius Severus (AD 193-211) the empire had completely changed." This continues his poorly developed theme from The Antonines, that they witnessed a major change in the nature of the Roman state. I didn't really mention this in my review of that book because it really wasn't argued in any comprehensive way. And neither is this one. But he starts the book off saying this, and it is a seriously flawed statement. While it's true that there were more changes under the Antonines than is commonly recognized, they were not a decisive break with the past. If any decisive role is to be attributed to them, they should be the last of the old-style emperors, or possibly the ones who laid the groundwork for later emperors to build off of. The period under the Severans was the moment when the Empire started to change, and in the time immediately following their dynasty the changes were even more rapid. In short, the Severans were in no sense a "Changed Roman Empire." If anything they ruled under a 'Changing Roman Empire.'

So the biggest and most glaring flaw: This book is just too darn short for its topic. The entire book (including the Introduction and Appendix, but excluding the footnotes and index) is 90 pages. This leaves the chapters at under ten pages each. Even at 163 pages the Antonines was too short, but not as obviously so as this one. Which is extra annoying because unlike that book this one has the proper division of chapters. It is divided between about 1/3 imperial biography and 2/3 on selected topics, but these topics more accurately represent the whole era. Subjects such as the military, finance, religion, and the state of the provinces were all ignored in that book but are included in this one. But the chapters are so short (most are under five pages) that any information in them is too vague and unexplored to be useful. This is such a problem that what little there is to appreciate here can never compensate for it.

The imperial biography section is barely acceptable. There is nothing too surprising in it, except the brevity of the whole (28 pages). He leaves out most of the important information. He covers the outline of Severus' career in two pages and doesn't even mention Alexander Severus' Persian campaign. While he mentions in passing that the Persians would replace the Parthians after Severus, he never makes clear when this occurred nor why it even matters. To make matters worse given the lack of space (and effort) he adds a chapter on the praetorian prefects right after the chapter on Severus, in which he describes the praetorians through Severus Alexander whose reign he hasn't even covered yet. Not that the praetorians weren't important, but this is entirely the wrong place for it. Even worse, he spends an entire chapter dealing with Severus' succession plans. This could have been included in either the preceding life of Severus or the succeeding one of Caracalla. The only conceivable reason to split this short (3 page) segment off into its own chapter is to take up space and make the book seem longer.

Most of the rest of my complaints are ones I made in my Antonine review: the author's viewpoint is simplistic and analysis is nonexistent. Even the nuance of that work is gone since there isn't enough room here for him to expand on it. His big complaint about Severus is that he didn't give the empire to someone more competent than his son, something that he excused Marcus Aurelius for. So I guess he liked Aurelius better than Severus? Who can blame him, but that doesn't mean that Severus was any worse for doing it than Aurelius was.

His take on Caracalla shows that he is a traditionalist in the worst sense of the word. He only judges artwork on its perceived artistic merit. Caracalla's portraiture is strikingly unpleasant, therefore he was too. But why did he choose to be portrayed that way? This would be a good point to examine the possible reasons for Caracalla making such a break with tradition, but instead he just leaves it that he was an angry man. No mention of the advantages to an emperor of having a unique style of portraiture, or what effect the sculptures were supposed to have on the viewers. It is a very simplistic viewing of an important feature of his reign. Another example of his simplicity include his statement that the Empire was moving towards Democracy due to the importance of the army. Does he mean a meritocracy? I don't know. I'd call it an anarchy myself. But it was such an outrageous statement that I had to go back and reread it to make sure I hadn't missed anything.

This simplicity is a symptom of a sheer laziness that I find appalling. No real work was put into this book. The chapters on law, religion, and the sources are simply lists of names with a brief description. There is no analysis done. For a chapter on the rise of lawyers to not even mention a single law is an embarrassment. The section on the Christian writers doesn't even describe the most basic elements of their theology. The chapter on Roman art and architecture is simply a selection of excerpts from one of his earlier works on the Roman forum.

Like his last book, this one concludes with a question raised by Edward Gibbon. This time it is his statement that "Posterity, who experienced the fatal effects of [Severus'] maxims and example, justly considered him as the principal author of the decline of the Roman empire." Unlike in the Antonines, here Grant disagrees with Gibbon. He points out that the empire continued for 250 years after Severus in the west, and 1250 in the east. So if Severus was truly that destructive then why did the empire last so long? It's an obvious question and one that Gibbon has been lambasted for for years.

This isn't Grant's worst work (at least it's not plagiarized like The Collapse and Recovery of the Roman Empire is) but it's far from his best. While with his last one the problem was that he left too many topics out entirely, here the problem is that he covers everything in an extremely superficial manner. If you want to read a much more detailed look at this period by Grant then I'd recommend The Climax of Rome. It mainly deals with the period immediately following this one, but it makes some mention of the Severans as well and includes some good analysis of the changed the empire underwent. Another good book on this era is The Roman Empire at Bay. This is a detailed book which covers the empire from Commodus to Theodosius, yet still manages to be better and more informative than this book.
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