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sonic

Villanovan Rome and the Kings

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Hi all.

 

Am thinking of getting back into the earliest period of Roman history.  Can anyone tell me the best new (i.e. c.AD 2000 and later) books/articles with the latest thinking on the earliest periods?

 

Cheers

 

Ian

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Day One by Andreas Carrini examines archeological evidence of Rome's earliest time. Mary Beard's SPQR contains useful insights and critique of the monarchial period.

 

In fact I have by coincidence arrived at similar conclusions to Mary Beard's ideas surrounding the meaning of the latin word Rex which we translate as 'King'. She doesn't see that word as meaning 'monarch' in either medieval or modern sense, and prefers to think of it as 'Chieftan'. As for myself I noted the use of the word rex in letters from Vindolanda, and since a commanding officer is clearly not a king, there had to be a different, more primal meaning, one associated with overlordship and control.

 

The thing about Rome's earliest history is that the versions we have inherited from Roman writers is to a large extent fiction, which Mary Beard notes bears extraordinary resemblance to greek models. They knew no more about their past than we do, and so basically filled in the gaps with stuff that sounded good.

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The thing about Rome's earliest history is that the versions we have inherited from Roman writers is to a large extent fiction, which Mary Beard notes bears extraordinary resemblance to greek models. They knew no more about their past than we do, and so basically filled in the gaps with stuff that sounded good.

 

From what I remember there were only very bare bones when it came to the history of early Rome, especially as much of the Roman records were destroyed by the Gallic sack of 386 BCE.  As a result, Livy and others also used events recorded by other states in Italy and 'embellished' the events by inserting speeches and (roughly) comparable stories from Greek histories into their own.  Again if my memory serves, this was helped by the contemporary belief that individuals with certain characteristics acted in specific and obvious ways.  Therefore, a character from Roman history recorded as being greedy and arrogant would act in exactly the same way as somebody in Livy's time who had the same personality.  Obviously, the current characters would then be transposed onto the ancient ones in the belief that their actions would be the same.  Then again, I could be wrong:  my memory's not great!

 

Thanks for the list - I've placed an order!

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