Emperors of Rome: Imperial Rome from Julius Caesar to the Last Emperor Hardcover – Feb 1 2012
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'This is a useful guide to the men who were elevated to command Rome and rule the Roman Empire' Good Book Guide.
About the Author
David Potter is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Greek and Latin in the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Michigan.
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While the book looks like a coffee table decoration, it reads like a novel. You get to know the characters that made, maintained and lost the greatest empire ever. You understand their motivations and their challenges: personal, institutional, and religious. After reading the book, you will surprise yourself when you encounter a situation in your own life and find you remember these circumstances, the solutions tried and found wanting by Rome, and most important what worked. It is in these explanations that Potter excels.
It was not that Rome did not know how to continue as a great empire - her leaders chose not to, and the people of Rome let them. Potter explores this in detail, with marked lessons for our own time, leaders and people.
At other times in the little side vignettes there are bas reliefs and paintings and when they mention someone to the left of so-and-so; they mean so-and-so's left not to the left from your vantage point. It's especially difficult when so many of the characters seem to have the same name or change their names that it's like watching a football game with all the players wearing only five numbers among them. The worst part is making sense of what happens after Constantine dies and is replace by his sons Constantius, Constantine and Constans. Sometimes one or the other has their son mentioned who has the same name or their grandfather's (Constantine). Can't tell the players even with a scorecard.
It becomes especially difficult at the end in the late 300 and 400's AD, when the empire has been effectively split into three empires and the children have names of their grandparents or uncles or famous cousins and they get busy marrying each others sisters. It's worse than a soap opera. (Even Susan Lucci (Erika Kane) who has been married fourteen times has nothing on these people.) In the end the Eastern Empire fell because it no longer supplied soldiers to the army but depended on mercenaries who finally said, we now own the Empire.