A History of Rome

Book A History of Rome

A History of Rome

The classical historian Theodor Mommsen (1817 1903) published his monumental History of Rome between 1854 and 1856. His work was received with widespread acclaim by the scholarly community and the reading public. In 1902 Mommsen was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and acclaimed as 'the greatest living master of the art of historical writing'. Mommsen rejected traditional Enlightenment accounts, which glorified ancient Rome; instead, guided by a new and rigorous criticism of sources, Mommsen began the demythologisation of Roman history. In a vivacious and engaging style, Mommsen drew bold parallels between the nineteenth century and classical Rome. Information about this Folio Society edition (taken from the Editorial Note):Theodor Mommsen’s Römische Geschichte was first published in three volumes between 1854 and 1856, and was subsequently revised several times. The text of the present volume is derived from William Purdie Dickson’s translation, first published in four volumes by Richard Bentley in London in 1868, of the fourth German edition.The text printed in the ensuing pages preserves slightly less than half of the 1868 edition’s three-quarters of a million words. In abridging a work of such magnitude, strict guiding principles tend to be honoured as much in their breach as in their observance. With that caveat in mind, therefore, the intention in this edition has been to provide, within a single volume, a continuous narrative of the history of Rome, from the origins of the city down to the Civil War that resulted in the sole rule of Julius Caesar (c.753—46BC). At the same time, it is hoped that the selection represents the essential character of Mommsen’s historical vision, and can be read with both pleasure and profit by a non-specialist audience.In pursuit of these goals, the relative amount of space devoted to each of the main periods of Roman history has been preserved, and Mommsen’s own book divisions and titles retained. Similarly, the original chapter titles and breaks—and indeed even the paragraphing—has been followed as closely as possible. Wirth some obvious exceptions, marginal precedence has been given to social and constitutional developments, and to political events and conflicts in Rome and Italy, over foreign policy and the detailed narration of overseas wars. Consequently, the significant amount of background information that Mommsen provided concerning the foreign nations with which Rome came into violent contact—Etruscans, Celts, Carthaginians and the peoples of the Hellenistic eastern Mediterranean among them—has been almost entirely excised. And the summaries on literature and the arts that were tacked on to the end of each book have also had to be omitted. Within these broad parameters, however, every effort has been made to ensure that the full spectrum of Mommsen's themes, methodology, and style is portrayed.So that the text retains its readability, all cuts have been made silently, without the distraction of frequent ellipses. Where it has proved impossible to provide a continuous narrative in Mommsen’s own words, then editorial linking passages, printed in smaller type than the rest of the text, have been supplied. These confine themselves to the bare essentials and take a deliberately conservative line in order to sit more comfortably with the main narrative. the new maps and extensive chronology are also intended to compensate for information otherwise excised. A handful of editorial footnotes and other brief interpolations have been added where essential for sense. All such additions to the original text, as well as any other localised rewordings necessitated by the cuts, are contained within square brackets. Most of Mommsen’s analogies to subsequent historical events, which are one of the many delights of his work, require no explanation for an educated readership.Any attempt to update Mommsen’s scholarship would be presumptuous, if not completely foolhardy, and so all points of fact and interpretation have been allowed to stand without comment. thus, for example, Mommsen’s belief that Caesar was probably born in 102BC—rather than 100 BC, as is now generally accepted—has not been amended. Nor has it been deemed necessary to bring into line with current accepted norms either the spelling of proper nouns or Disckon’s faithful equivalents of Mommsen’s deliberately idiosyncratic and anachronistic rendition of Latin terms. Of these, the most noticeable is undoubtedly the word ‘burgess’ instead of ‘citizen’. While proving that few things date faster than modernity, they also provide an important reminder that Mommsen wrote his history with the pressing political and national issues facing both pre-unification Germany and the rest of the mid-nineteenth0century Europe directly in mind.
Авторы

Theodor Mommsen

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