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Publisher's Summary

The Roman Republic is one of the most breathtaking civilizations in world history. Between roughly 500 BCE to the turn of the millennium, a modest city-state developed an innovative system of government and expanded into far-flung territories across Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. This powerful civilization inspired America's founding fathers, gifted us a blueprint for amazing engineering innovations, left a vital trove of myths, and has inspired the human imagination for 2,000 years.

How did Rome become so powerful? This mystery has vexed historians from the ancient Greek writer Polybius to 21st century scholars. Today, removed as we are from the Roman Republic, historians also wonder what it was like to be a Roman citizen in that amazing era. Beyond the familiar names of Romulus, Caesar, Octavian, Brutus, and Mark Antony, what was life like for the ordinary people? And what did the conquered peoples think of this world power?

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2018 The Teaching Company, LLC; 2018 The Great Courses

What listeners say about The Rise of Rome

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great for the Beginner

If you're entirely new to the history of the Roman Republic, pick this course up. It's a fine introductory survey that covers Rome's early history right up to the reign of Augustus. However, if you're already steeped in Roman history, you might not find anything fresh or exciting. Aldrete is a fine lecturer and an obvious master of the subject, though, and I have no complaints against him.

30 people found this helpful

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Very good, but doesn't stand out

This is a very solid course, and if you're new to Roman history or to The Great Courses, it would be a fine place to start.

But if you're like me – a long time fan of TGC on Audible, and something of an ancient history enthusiast – then there is not a lot here that you haven't heard already from TGC's other ancient history offerings, namely Garrett G. Fagan's excellent two-part survey course, composed of "The History of Ancient Rome" and "Emperors of Rome", and Robert Garland's course on "Daily Life in the Ancient World."

Though the focus here is on just why the Roman republic became so powerful (And it IS just about the republic – it leaves off right as Octavian/Augustus seizes power, whereas a lecture on the "Rise of Rome" really ought to take you through at least to Trajan.), it's really not much more than another (admittedly very decent) survey course of Roman history. And that's a bit of a shame, as Aldrete has written books on such specific things as Greek linen body armor and floods of the Tiber in antiquity. TGC's ancient history offerings could use more specificity of focus, and Aldrete is perfectly qualified to give that to us… But that's not what happened.

To sum up: it's a perfectly enjoyable course, but don't expect any major revelations if you're already familiar with the subject.

50 people found this helpful

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An excellent introduction to Rome until Augustus

In twelve hours you get 24 lectures about Rome giving an introductory bird's view of the Roman world. Professor Aldrete has the ability to keep it interesting throughout. He is quite knowledgeable about the subject matter.

You do not need to know Latin and Prof Aldrete keeps his pronunciation of names and places very English. (I couldn't help wondering if he can read Latin.) By doing so he keeps it accessible to Everyman.

I appreciated that he suspended the historical narrative at some point in the course for a bit to deal with the social world of the Romans. It was quite informative. He discussed daily lives, where our calender came from etc.

If you are looking for a all-in-one course on the Roman world until Caesar Augustus, this is the right course for you.

6 people found this helpful

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Another Top Course From A Top Lecturer

When I first saw this course upon its release I shook my head thinking, "Yet another course on ancient Rome?" I thoroughly enjoyed Professor Fagan's earlier course entitled "The History of Ancient Rome" and figured there was no way to improve upon what to me felt like a complete and definitive history on the topic. Why did we need another course on the subject? I glanced at it suspecting I wouldn't be giving it more than a fleeting thought but when I saw who was teaching it I was stopped in my tracks. Professor Aldrete had long ago won me over with his masterful course "History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective". This changed the equation: I just had to sample some of the lectures and, while doing so, it became evident I had to add this course to my collection.

It is no surprise to me that I'd walk away from this course declaring it yet another winner from Prof. Aldrete (in addition to the aforementioned course he also wowed me with "The Decisive Battles of World History").

He is a clear speaker, a good presenter, wraps the facts in great storytelling, and raises interesting questions and debates for further reflection such as his opening question "What led to Rome's rise?" and closing one "Why did the Roman republic fall?"

He provides excellent historical narration relating to the origin of ancient Rome and its growth and expansion into the world’s dominant empire and its transitions from monarchy to republic to empire. What were the areas that stood out the most?

1- Prof. Aldrete covers the practices, values, and traditions of the Roman people in more detail than any other course on ancient Rome I've taken, leading to a deeper understanding of how they were conducted and what they meant to the State. Examples include the animal sacrifices, the Augury, the evocation (prior to a battle) of asking an enemy’s gods to abandon them and take residence in Rome, and the practice of sending someone to an enemy’s land to invoke a declaration/spell to the first person they saw before a war.

2- Riveting narration of the Punic Wars including Rome’s struggles with the great general Hannibal as well as the battles against the Greeks of the Eastern Mediterranean (lectures 8-10)

3- Great job of detailing, in the last third of the course, how great powerful military leaders working outside of the normal social and legal constructs of the Roman Republic undermined it and how it led to its fall (Marius, Sulla, Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar, and Octavian Caesar)

Was there any downside to these lectures? Very hard to find.

The non-historical narrative lectures (for example those concentrating on the societal aspects of Roman life such as education, housing, food, and marriage) were mildly interesting but I suppose it may just be because my interests naturally gravitate towards the political and military histories.

The lecture on the unification of the Italian peninsula didn’t cover how the Romans subdued the Umbrians under their control (he did call them out a few times on the map and covered all other Italian peoples/wars).

But these are minor grievances. The overwhelming bulk of the lectures were expertly executed.

Even if you are well-versed in ancient Roman history I don't think its a stretch to say you will either learn something new here or at the very least hear the story again from a master storyteller who not only relates things in an easy to consume manner but who will also leave you with enough questions to further your contemplation and exploration.

I would recommend this course to all without hesitation even if you think you've already heard the definitive history of ancient Rome. I would also recommend that TGC bring back Professor Aldrete for another course. Any course by him would be "must listen" but when are we going to get a course dedicated exclusively to ancient France?

5 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable and educational

This course is well put together. It presents the rise of Rome in an accessible manner that requires little to no previous knowledge. The teacher explains all the niche concepts so you have all the background needed to get the most out of the course. I found this more compelling than some of the fiction series I was in the middle of.

2 people found this helpful

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well organized

This is one of the better great courses because there is a narrative arc. The professor is an engaging lecturer who connects the historical facts to broader human questions.

1 person found this helpful

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a really good look at rome.

i like these lectures and this one was one of the better ones. i highly recommend.

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great!

we really enjoyed it. he took something that can be dry and made it very compelling while preserving the nuance and complexity.

1 person found this helpful

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loved it!

I really enjoyed this audible book by the Great Courses. I've been obsessed with Roman history for the past couple years now and I've been reading and listening to all sorts of different materials on it. What I really like about this one was how he cross-referenced all the ancient historians of the time from polybius to Livy to Cicero and other contemporaries. this was an excellent book to learn about how the Republic Rose and how it alternate Lee cell. I recommend

1 person found this helpful

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The lessons of Rome for us today

Extremely well written and presented story of the rise and fall of the Roman Republic that is extremely relevant to our own republic today.

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  • Lord Peridot
  • 07-11-18

Lecture Titles

Lecture 1 The City on the Tiber
Lecture 2 The Monarchy and the Etruscans
Lecture 3 Roman Values and Heroes
Lecture 4 The Early Republic and Rural Life.

Lecture 5 The Constitution of the Roman Republic
Lecture 6 The Unification of the Italian Peninsula.
Lecture 7 Roman Religion: Sacrifice, Augury, and Magic
Lecture 8 The First Punic War: A War at Sea

Lecture 9 The Second Punic War: Rome versus Hannibal
Lecture 10 Rome Conquers Greece.
Lecture 11 The Consequences of Roman Imperialism
Lecture 12 Roman Slavery: Cruelty and Opportunity

Lecture 13 Roman Women and Marriage
Lecture 14 Roman Children, Education, and Timekeeping.
Lecture 15 Food, Housing, and Employment in Rome.
Lecture 16 The Gracchi Attempt Reform

Lecture 17 Gaius Marius the Novus Homo
Lecture 18 Sulla the Dictator and the Social War
Lecture 19 The Era of Pompey the Great
Lecture 20 The Rise of Julius Caesar

Lecture 21 Civil War and the Assassination of Caesar
Lecture 22 Cicero and the Art of Roman Oratory
Lecture 23 Octavian, Antony, and Cleopatra.
Lecture 24 Why the Roman Republic Collapsed

24 people found this helpful

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  • Jake
  • 07-28-20

Misleading title. School-level education.

I expected the title "The Rise of Rome" to entail a specialised and detailed analysis of the Republic's geopolitical strategy, but instead the title is an expression of its generic content. I'm not criticising the lecturer, necessarily, but rather the marketing executive who decided to entitle the course, not as a promise of further education but as a promise of foundational demystification. This is not higher or further educational academia we are dealing with here, but rather content that might otherwise be found in a TV documentary. So, for example, if the author wants to talk about the role of (upper-class) women in Rome, then entitle your work "Rome: the City of an Empire," or "Roman Culture and Society," or something such like. In another example, the author talks about manumition and the capacity for some slaves to rise within niches of society. Interesting, but what does it have to do with the "rise" of an empire if the author does not contextualise it within economics, sociology, or from some other analytical perspective?

I should really just read some academic articles; there's no shortcut to deep knowledge.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Bilberry
  • 01-30-19

magnificent

If i have one crtitism of this audio book is that it is simply not long enough.

But never mind becasue now can go back to listening to Livy and actually understand what he is rabbiting on about

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 01-14-19

Comprehensive but not convoluted

A comprehensive history of the Roman Republic which is both narratively captivating and compelling, without doing what certain other history books do, which is drawing contemporary parallels.

It also touches on those segments of society which have little in the way of first hand accounts, such as those of the lives of women and slaves, drawing conclusions from third hand accounts and cross-referencing them with roman ideals, societal pressures, societal prominence, scandals etc, in order to draw a nuanced distinction between what women were expected to do by the predominantly male aristocratic senators, male historians and male monarchs, and what they might have done in reality.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Manish
  • 08-12-18

The Roman Republic

Great book. Should really be called An Early History of Rome. Wonderful accounts of life in Rome not just an account of famous Romans.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ahmet
  • 10-11-19

nice course for filling the gaps

the course speed is great and enslavery and dailylife chapters were very valuable for me. Nice course.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nod3397
  • 07-27-21

Good informative listen.

I enjoyed this listen. I found it very informative even though I have read a lot about early Roman history. I find that the 30 minutes lectures are great for when I go out walking. They are just about the right length.

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  • Jon Evans
  • 12-05-20

Surprisingly excellent.

Excellent overview. Expecting a scant overview, proved to have decent depth. American with correct pronunciation.

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  • hfffoman
  • 10-21-20

Masterful and interesting

I find the Great Courses a very mixed offering but this is a superb series of lectures I would recommend these to anyone even if they think they aren't interested in the Romans, and much better than the turgid SPQR (much as I respect its author). On the strength of this I have purchased two more series of Adrete's lectures.

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  • Dave
  • 12-12-18

Thoroughly enjoyed it!

A fascinating subject, entertainingly presented, and I felt I learned a lot. Would thoroughly recommend!

1 person found this helpful