Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic

BOOK: Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic
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Tom Holland has adapted Herodotus, Homer, Thucydides and Virgil for BBC Radio. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

 

Praise for Tom Holland’s
Rubicon

Winner of the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History 2004

 

‘This is narrative history at its best … It really held me, in fact, obsessed me … Bloody and labyrinthine political intrigue and struggle, brilliant oratory, amazing feats of conquest and cruelty. Holland’s lucid account of this alien civilisation moves at a fine pace. He makes no facile comparisons with our times, but you sense you are witnessing through him the enduring difficulty of reconciling power and peace’

Ian McEwan, Books of the Year

‘It’s terrific and I’m so grateful to [Tom Holland] for reminding me, so vividly, of not just the Roman Empire but of the people it produced and influenced’

Joanna Trollope,
Observer
Books of the Year 2005

‘I am afraid I have read nothing but books about the Roman Empire, the most gripping of which was Tom Holland’s
Rubicon

Boris Johnson,
Sunday Telegraph
Books of the Year 2005

‘Holland writes throughout with wonderful zest … this is a terrific read and a remarkable piece of scholarship. As an introduction to Roman history, it is unlikely to be bettered’

Christopher Matthews,
Daily Mail

‘A fine achievement, a book which will still deserve to be read when the political fashion has moved on … For any newcomer who wants the story of the Republic [and] who is tired of hearing people bang on about what the Romans did for us and wants to know what (and how) the Romans did for themselves, this is probably as good as it gets’

Peter Stothard,
Times Literary Supplement

‘A model of exactly how a popular history of the classical world should be written … a riveting study of the period … the most readable book on the later Roman republic since Ronald Syme’s
The Roman Revolution
… Next time someone asks me why they should study Roman history,
Rubicon
will be one of the first books that I shall direct them to’

Richard Miles,
Guardian

‘The blood-stained drama of the last decades of the Roman Republic … is told afresh with tremendous wit, narrative verve and insight … What characters there were in this drama! He resurrects them with a novelistic luminosity which illuminates not only that lost world, but our own as well’

Christopher Hart,
Independent on Sunday

‘The story of Rome’s experiment with republicanism – peopled by such giants as Caesar, Pompey, Cato and Cicero – is told with perfect freshness, fine wit and true scholarship’

Andrew Roberts

‘Holland has the rare gift of making deep scholarship accessible and exciting. A brilliant and completely absorbing study’

A. N. Wilson

‘Tom Holland’s
Rubicon
makes history read like a thrilling mafia epic. Classical celebrities who flit across the subconscious of half-educated people like me keep walking in and swaggering about, all alive’

Griff Rhys Jones, Books of the Year

‘A history of the Roman Republic at the height of its fame … The excitement of this book lies in the knowledge that once the summit is reached, either of a mountain or a civilisation, the trail leads downwards’

Beryl Bainbridge, Books of the Year

‘An excellent and extremely readable study of the last days of the Roman republics’

John Bayley, Books of the Year

‘Ancient history often descends to us either through impregnable academic works or the sword-and-sandal epics of the cinema. What Holland achieves is to draw from both genres to write a modern, well-paced and finely observed history which entertains as it informs’

Elizabeth Speller,
Observer

‘The Republic won an empire, and destroyed itself in doing so. Tom Holland tells the story of how this came about, and does so with splendid verve … His writing is as pellucid as Macauley’s’

Allan Massie,
Spectator

‘Engrossing … a lively narrative style … A thoroughly worthwhile and timely project – an account of a formative period of Western history that manages to be accessible and not over-simplified’

Harry Eyres,
Daily Telegraph

‘A master of the telling detail …
Rubicon
is unrivalled in revealing the humbug behind the cant and stripping Julius Caesar and company of their moral finery’

Frederic Raphael,
Sunday Times

‘Tom Holland’s excellent new study of the fall of the Republic … reevaluating Rome for a new generation’

Robert Harris,
Sunday Times

‘For the student of contemporary politics as well as the classicist, Tom Holland’s account of the last century or so of the Roman Republic is timely. It enables the reader to re-live the slow, bloodstained collapse of a system, not only as a fascinating drama in its own right, but as a morality tale … This gripping narrative resurrects some of the half-forgotten personalities and events that shaped who we are. In the light of the parallels between the two great imperial republics, it can be
recommended as an instructive beach-read for senior politicians on both sides of the Atlantic’

Anthony Everitt,
Independent

‘Fresh and vivid … Holland’s strength is as a narrative historian and there is no better and clearer guide to the tangled political events of 100–44
BC
… if a new readership is to be won for ancient history, it is books like this that will pave the way’

Frank McLynn,
New Statesman


Rubicon
… is no dry history: it is immensely readable, a perfect combination of authoritative scholarship and racy narrative … all Holland’s people are real and alive. Sometimes they even talk’

David Wishart,
The Scotsman

‘Holland paints a vivid social portrait of the Roman world … Ideal bedside reading for George W. Bush’

Max Hastings,
Sunday Telegraph

‘Explosive stuff … a seriously intelligent history of the late republic that approximates as closely to the condition of the novel as should be allowed. Concentrating on the characters, plotting their interactions, rise and fall with considerable narrative skill, writing with élan and gusto … It is a history for our times … One can see classicists like Paul Wolfowitz in the White House eagerly seizing this book to find out how to deal with those tricky middle-easterners … a wickedly enjoyable book and a very sharp “reading” of the late Roman republic’

Peter Jones,
BBC History Magazine

‘Holland brings to vivid life the names found in thousands of schoolbooks … and gives them both personality and relevance…. With authoritative prose, this comes as recommended reading for those interested in the ancient world’

Good Book Guide

‘Always readable and often beautiful … essential reading for anyone interested in ancient history. However, it also says more about our modern civilisation than many books that more overtly address the contemporary political and social issues … [Holland] blows the dust off an ancient civilisation, and shows that we still have plenty to learn from the past’

Sunday Business Post

‘Holland brings a diverse cast of characters to life and in his descriptions of the skullduggery, luxury and squalor of ancient Rome he’s marvellously entertaining’

Evening Herald

‘Stunning …
Rubicon
is unusually well informed by any standard and impressive for its large but not overwhelming cast of characters. The roster goes well beyond the expected Marius and Sulla, Pompey and Crassus, Caesar and Cicero. Look out for prototypical metrosexuals, high-class oyster purveyors, overprivileged aristo table-dancers, back-alley prostitutes and a small army of political bit players – mercifully, not all identified by name. Holland keeps his narrative moving at chariot-race speed’

Corey Brennan,
Newsday

COPYRIGHT
 

Published by Hachette Digital

ISBN: 978-0-748-13105-1

Copyright © 2003 Tom Holland

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

Hachette Digital

Little, Brown Book Group

100 Victoria Embankment

London, EC4Y 0DY

www.hachette.co.uk

For Eliza.

 

Welcome to the world.

Contents
 

Praise

Copyright

Acknowledgements

List of Maps

Note on Proper Names

Preface

  
1    THE PARADOXICAL REPUBLIC

  
2    THE SIBYL’S CURSE

  
3    LUCK BE A LADY

  
4    RETURN OF THE NATIVE

  
5    FAME IS THE SPUR

  
6    A BANQUET OF CARRION

  
7    THE DEBT TO PLEASURE

  
8    TRIUMVIRATE

  
9    THE WINGS OF ICARUS

10   WORLD WAR

11   THE DEATH OF THE REPUBLIC

 

Timeline

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Acknowledgements

I owe a debt of gratitude to many people for their help with the writing of this book. To my editors, Richard Beswick and Stephen Guise in London, and Bill Thomas and Gerry Howard in New York. To that best of agents and dearest of friends, Patrick Walsh. To Jamie Muir, for being the first to read the manuscript, and for all his unstinting friendship, encouragement and advice. To Caroline Muir, for being such a help whenever my failure to be a stern
pater familias
threatened to overwhelm me. To Mary Beard, for saving me from more errors than I can bear to count. To Catharine Edwards, for doing the same. To Lizzie Speller, for being as obsessed by Pompey’s quiff as I was, and for all her conversation and support. To everyone at the British School in Rome, and to Hilary Bell, for not complaining (too much) as I dragged her round yet another coin collection. To the staff of the London Library, and the library of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. To Arthur Jarvis and Michael Symonds, for first introducing me to the late Republic. And above all, of course, to my beloved wife and daughter, Sadie and Katy, for keeping me sane when it seemed that I would never have time for anything except for the Romans: ‘
ita sum ab omnibus destitutus ut tantum requietis habeam quantum cum uxore et filiola consumitur
.’

List of Maps

1   The Roman World in 140
BC

2   Rome in 140
BC

3   Italy in the First Century
BC

4   Campania in the First Century
BC

5   The Forum and Environs

6   The Eastern Mediterranean in 50
BC

7   Gaul in 60
BC

8   Rome in
AD
14

9   The Roman World in
AD
14

Note on Proper Names

Where familiar use has served to anglicise proper names, I have chosen to employ the modern rather than the classical usage: Pompey rather than Pompeius, for instance; Naples rather than Neapolis.

Preface
BOOK: Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic
10.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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