January, 2010


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Jan 10

Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome, by Anthony Everitt

I’ve got a huge interest in the history of Ancient Rome, and Everitt has written 2 of my favorite books on the subject: biographies of Cicero and Augustus. Now he adds this one about the emperor Hadrian, who ruled about a century after Augustus established the empire (which was about 50 years after Cicero was at the height of his oratorical powers).

While I liked his earlier 2 books better, I really enjoyed this one, too, and it was made more real because I took my first trip to Rome in November, while I was in the middle of reading it. Hadrian was directly responsible for the rebuilding of the Pantheon, the most incredible building that I saw on our trip — and he came at a time just after the Flavians (Vespasian, Titus, Domitian), who reformed the city by building the Colosseum and much on the Palatine (not to mention, you know, the whole destruction of Jerusalem in there by Titus), and Trajan, who was as expansionist as any Roman emperor.

The time that Everitt chronicles in these 3 books is really an amazing time in Roman (and world) history — Rome was at the height of its power and influence — after Hadrian, things were mostly in decline.

Anyway, a must-read for anyone interested in Roman history (and if you are, let me know, because I’ve got a few others).