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Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic (English Edition) Versión Kindle
'The Book that really held me, in fact, obsessed me, was Rubicon . . . This is narrative history at its best. Bloody and labyrinthine political intrigue and struggle, brilliant oratory, amazing feats of conquest and cruelty' Ian McEwan, Books of the Year, Guardian
'Marvellously readable' Niall Ferguson
The Roman Republic was the most remarkable state in history. What began as a small community of peasants camped among marshes and hills ended up ruling the known world. Rubicon paints a vivid portrait of the Republic at the climax of its greatness - the same greatness which would herald the catastrophe of its fall.
It is a story of incomparable drama. This was the century of Julius Caesar, the gambler whose addiction to glory led him to the banks of the Rubicon, and beyond; of Cicero, whose defence of freedom would make him a byword for eloquence; of Spartacus, the slave who dared to challenge a superpower; of Cleopatra, the queen who did the same.
Tom Holland brings to life this strange and unsettling civilization, with its extremes of ambition and self-sacrifice, bloodshed and desire. Yet alien as it was, the Republic still holds up a mirror to us. Its citizens were obsessed by celebrity chefs, all-night dancing and exotic pets; they fought elections in law courts and were addicted to spin; they toppled foreign tyrants in the name of self-defence. Two thousand years may have passed, but we remain the Romans' heirs.
Descripción del producto
'I owe a debt of gratitude to Tom Holland not just for reminding me of great figures who bestrode the Roman world - Pompey and Crassus, Cato, Cicero and Caesar - but for explaining what it was that made Rome the greatest superpower the world has known, why it lasted so long and what caused its eventual fall' Daily Mail
'A modern, well-paced and finely observed history which entertains as it informs' Observer
'The bloodstained drama of the last decades of the Roman republic . . . is told afresh with tremendous wit, narrative verve and insight' Independent on Sunday
'Gripping and hugely entertaining. It is a story crammed with drama and spectacle . . . but the real attraction of Holland's book is the wit and contemporary sensibility that he brings to his often bloody tale' Book of the Year, Sunday Times--Este texto se refiere a una edición agotada o no disponible de este título.
Extracto. © Reimpreso con autorización. Reservados todos los derechos.
The Paradoxical Republic
In the beginning, before the Republic, Rome was ruled by kings. About one of these, a haughty tyrant by the name of Tarquin, an eerie tale was told. Once, in his palace, an old woman came calling on him. In her arms she carried nine books. When she offered these to Tarquin he laughed in her face, so fabulous was the price she was demanding. The old woman, making no attempt to bargain, turned and left without a word. She burned three of the books and then, reappearing before the king, offered him the remaining volumes, still at the same price as before. A second time, although with less self-assurance now, the king refused, and a second time the old woman turned and left. By now Tarquin had grown nervous of what he might be turning down, and so when the mysterious crone reappeared, this time holding only three books, he hurriedly bought them, even though he had to pay the price originally demanded for all nine. Taking her money, the old woman then vanished, never to be seen again.
Who had she been? Her books proved to contain prophecies of such potency that the Romans soon realized that only one woman could possibly have been their author--the Sibyl. Yet this was an identification that only begged further questions, for the legends told of the Sibyl were strange and puzzling. On the presumption that she had foretold the Trojan War, men debated whether she was a compound of ten prophetesses, or immortal, or destined to live a thousand years. Some--the more sophisticated--even wondered whether she existed at all. In fact, only two things could be asserted with any real confidence--that her books, inscribed with spidery and antique Greek, certainly existed, and that within them could be read the pattern of events that were to come. The Romans, thanks to Tarquin's belated eye for a bargain, found themselves with a window to the future of the world.
Not that this helped Tarquin much. In 509 bc he succumbed to a palace coup. Kings had been ruling in Rome for more than two hundred years, ever since the city's foundation, but Tarquin, the seventh in line, would also be the last.* With his expulsion, the monarchy itself was overthrown, and, in its place, a free republic proclaimed. From then on, the title of "king" would be regarded by the Roman people with an almost pathological hatred, to be shrunk from and shuddered at whenever mentioned. Liberty had been the watchword of the coup against Tarquin, and liberty, the liberty of a city that had no master, was now consecrated as the birthright and measure of every citizen. To preserve it from the ambitions of future would-be tyrants, the founders of the Republic settled upon a remarkable formula. Carefully, they divided the powers of the exiled Tarquin between two magistrates, both elected, neither permitted to serve for longer than a year. These were the consuls, and their presence at the head of their fellow citizens, the one guarding against the ambitions of the other, was a stirring expression of the Republic's guiding principle--that never again should one man be permitted to rule supreme in Rome. Yet, startling though the innovation of the consulship appeared, it was not so radical as to separate the Romans entirely from their past. The monarchy might have been abolished, but very little else. The roots of the new Republic reached far back in time--often very far back indeed. The consuls themselves, as a privilege of their office, bordered their togas with the purple of kings. When they consulted the auspices they did so according to rites that predated the very foundation of Rome. And then, of course, most fabulous of all, there were the books left behind by the exiled Tarquin, the three mysterious rolls of prophecy, the writings of the ancient and quite possibly timeless Sibyl.
So sensitive was the information provided by these that access to them was strictly regulated as a secret of the state. Citizens found copying them would be sewn into a sack and dropped into the sea. Only in the most perilous of circumstances, when fearsome prodigies warned the Republic of looming catastrophe, was it permitted to consult the books at all. Then, once every alternative had been exhausted, specially appointed magistrates would be mandated to climb to the temple of Jupiter, where the books were kept in conditions of the tightest security. The scrolls would be spread out. Fingers would trace the faded lines of Greek. Prophecies would be deciphered, and advice taken on how best to appease the angered heavens.
And advice was always found. The Romans, being a people as practical as they were devout, had no patience with fatalism. They were interested in knowing the future only because they believed that it could then better be kept at bay. Showers of blood, chasms spitting fire, mice eating gold: terrifying prodigies such as these were regarded as the equivalent of bailiffs' duns, warnings to the Roman people that they stood in arrears with the gods. To get back in credit might require the introduction of a foreign cult to the city, the worship of a divinity who had hitherto been unknown. More typically, it would inspire retrenchment, as the magistrates desperately sought to identify the traditions that might have been neglected. Restore the past, the way that things had always been, and the safety of the Republic would be assured.
This was a presumption buried deep in the soul of every Roman. In the century that followed its establishment, the Republic was repeatedly racked by further social convulsions, by demands from the mass of citizens for expanded civic rights, and by continued constitutional reforms--and yet throughout this turbulent period of upheaval, the Roman people never ceased to affect a stern distaste for change. Novelty, to the citizens of the Republic, had sinister connotations. Pragmatic as they were, they might accept innovation if it were dressed up as the will of the gods or an ancient custom, but never for its own sake. Conservative and flexible in equal measure, the Romans kept what worked, adapted what had failed, and preserved as sacred lumber what had become redundant. The Republic was both a building site and a junkyard. Rome's future was constructed amid the jumble of her past.
The Romans themselves, far from seeing this as a paradox, took it for granted. How else were they to invest in their city save by holding true to the customs of their ancestors? Foreign analysts, who tended to regard the Romans' piety as "superstition,"1 and interpreted it as a subterfuge played on the masses by a cynical ruling class, misread its essence. The Republic was not like other states. While the cities of the Greeks were regularly shattered by civil wars and revolutions, Rome proved herself impervious to such disasters. Not once, despite all the social upheavals of the Republic's first century of existence, had the blood of her own citizens been spilled on her streets. How typical of the Greeks to reduce the ideal of shared citizenship to sophistry! To a Roman, nothing was more sacred or cherished. After all, it was what defined him. Public business--res publica--was what "republic" meant. Only by seeing himself reflected in the gaze of his fellows could a Roman truly know himself a man.
And by hearing his name on every tongue. The good citizen, in the Republic, was the citizen acknowledged to be good. The Romans recognized no difference between moral excellence and reputation, having the same word, honestas, for both. The approval of the entire city was the ultimate, the only, test of worth. This was why, whenever resentful citizens took to the streets, it would be to demand access to yet more honors and glory. Civil unrest would invariably inspire the establishment of a new magistracy: the aedileship and tribunate in 494, the quaestorship in 447, the praetorship in 367. The more posts there were, the greater the range of responsibilities; the greater the range of responsibilities, the broader the opportunities for achievement and approbation. Praise was what every citizen most desired--just as public shame was his ultimate dread. Not laws but the consciousness of always being watched was what prevented a Roman's sense of competition from degenerating into selfish ambition. Gruelling and implacable though the contest to excel invariably was, there could be no place in it for ill-disciplined vainglory. To place personal honor above the interests of the entire community was the behavior of a barbarian--or worse yet, a king.
In their relations with their fellows, then, the citizens of the Republic were schooled to temper their competitive instincts for the common good. In their relations with other states, however, no such inhibitions cramped them. "More than any other nation, the Romans have sought out glory and been greedy for praise."2 The consequences for their neighbors of this hunger for honor were invariably devastating. The legions' combination of efficiency and ruthlessness was something for which few opponents found themselves prepared. When the Romans were compelled by defiance to take a city by storm, it was their practice to slaughter every living creature they found. Rubble left behind by the legionaries could always be distinguished by the way in which severed dogs' heads or the dismembered limbs of cattle would lie strewn among the human corpses.3 The Romans killed to inspire terror, not in a savage frenzy but as the disciplined components of a fighting machine. The courage they brought to service in the legions, steeled by pride in their city and faith in her destiny, was an emotion that every citizen was brought up to share. Something uniquely lethal--and, to the Romans, glorious--marked their way of war.
Even so, it took time for the other states of Italy to wake up to the nature of the predator in their midst. For the first century of the Republic's existence the Romans found it a struggle to establish their supremacy over cities barely ten miles from their own gates. Yet even the deadliest carnivore must have its infancy, and the Romans, as they raided cattle and skirmished with petty hill tribes, were developing the instincts required to dominate and kill. By the 360s bc they had established their city as the mistress of central Italy. In the following decades they marched north and south, crushing opposition wherever they met it. By the 260s, with startling speed, they had mastered the entire peninsula. Honor, of course, had demanded nothing less. To states that humbly acknowledged their superiority, the Romans would grant such favors as a patron condescends to grant his clients, but to those who defied them, only ceaseless combat. No Roman could tolerate the prospect of his city losing face. Rather than endure it, he would put up with any amount of suffering, go to any lengths.
The time soon came when the Republic had to demonstrate this in a literal struggle to the death. The wars with Carthage were the most terrible it ever fought. A city of Semitic settlers on the North African coast, dominating the trade routes of the western Mediterranean, Carthage possessed resources at least as great as Rome's. Although predominantly a maritime power, she had indulged herself for centuries with bouts of warfare against the Greek cities of Sicily. Now, poised beyond the Straits of Messina, the Romans represented an ominous but intriguing new factor in Sicily's military equation. Predictably, the Greeks on the island could not resist embroiling the Republic in their perennial squabbles with Carthage. Equally predictably, once invited in, the Republic refused to play by the rules. In 264 Rome transformed what had been a minor dispute over treaty rights into a total war. Despite a lack of any naval tradition, and the loss of fleet after fleet to enemy action or storms, the Romans endured over two decades of appalling casualties to bring Carthage, at last, to defeat. By the terms of the peace treaty forced on them, the Carthaginians undertook a complete withdrawal from Sicily. Without ever having intended it, Rome found herself with the nucleus of an overseas empire. In 227 Sicily was constituted as the first Roman province.
The theater of the Republic's campaigning was soon to grow even wider. Carthage had been defeated, but not smashed. With Sicily lost, she next turned her imperial attentions to Spain. Braving the murderous tribes who swarmed everywhere in the mountains, the Carthaginians began to prospect for precious metals. The flood of wealth from their mines soon enabled them to contemplate resuming hostilities. Carthage's best generals were no longer under any illusions as to the nature of the enemy they faced in the Republic. Total war would have to be met in kind, and victory would be impossible unless Roman power were utterly destroyed.
It was to achieve this that Hannibal, in 218, led a Carthaginian army from Spain, through southern Gaul and over the Alps. Displaying a mastery of strategy and tactics far beyond that of his opponents, he brought three Roman armies to sensational defeat. In the third of his victories, at Cannae, Hannibal wiped out eight legions, the worst military disaster in the Republic's history. By every convention and expectation of contemporary warfare, Rome should have followed it by acknowledging Hannibal's triumph, and attempting to sue for peace. But in the face of catastrophe, she showed only continued defiance. Naturally, at such a moment, the Romans turned for guidance to the prophecies of the Sibyl. These prescribed that two Gauls and two Greeks be buried alive in the city's marketplace. The magistrates duly followed the Sibyl's advice. With this shocking act of barbarism, the Roman people demonstrated that there was nothing they would not countenance to preserve their city's freedom. The only alternative to liberty--as it had always been--was death.
And grimly, year by year, the Republic hauled itself back from the brink. More armies were raised; Sicily was held; the legions conquered Carthage's empire in Spain. A decade and a half after Cannae Hannibal faced another Roman army, but this time on African soil. He was defeated. Carthage no longer had the manpower to continue the struggle, and when her conqueror's terms were delivered, Hannibal advised his compatriots to accept them. Unlike the Republic after Cannae, he preferred not to risk his city's obliteration. Despite this, the Romans never forgot that in Hannibal, in the scale of his exertions, in the scope of his ambition, they had met the enemy who was most like themselves. Centuries later statues of him were still to be found standing in Rome. And even after they had reduced Carthage to an impotent rump, confiscating her provinces, her fleet, her celebrated war-elephants, the Romans continued to dread a Carthaginian recovery. Such hatred was the greatest compliment they could pay a foreign state. Carthage could not be trusted in her submission. The Romans looked into their own souls and attributed the implacability they found there to their greatest foe. --Este texto se refiere a la edición kindle_edition .
Detalles del producto
- ASIN : B004YD1RYM
- Editorial : Abacus; New Ed edición (21 abril 2011)
- Idioma : Inglés
- Tamaño del archivo : 7153 KB
- Texto a voz : Activado
- Lector de pantalla : Compatibles
- Tipografía mejorada : Activado
- X-Ray : Activado
- Word Wise : Activado
- Notas adhesivas : En Kindle Scribe
- Longitud de impresión : 465 páginas
- Clasificación en los más vendidos de Amazon: nº30,921 en Tienda Kindle (Ver el Top 100 en Tienda Kindle)
- nº195 en Historia en inglés
- nº211 en Historia en idiomas extranjeros
- nº487 en Historia antigua
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As well as being a classically trained scholar, Tom Holland is also an accomplished novelist and this explains why this book is so compelling. He weaves a narrative that reflects his award winning history writing ability with that of a storyteller. He combines the research skills and erudition of a specialist with the dramatic prose of a fine writer to create a dramatic and compelling narrative. In this regard he is perhaps more akin to Antony Beevor than Mary Beard.
I would recommend this book as an entry point for everyone. If you wish to probe further, Holland's extensive bibliography will help you find what you need. It is detailed and useful. He is adept at bringing characters to life which have been studied and wrote about for over 2000 years whether by Herodotus or Shakespeare, or in big screen epics or TV series. These people matter to us and this books brings a fresh lease of life to them. If you enjoy the USA TV show House of Cards then this book is for you as there are numerous similarities - only the names seem to change as plots and conspiracies abound, loyalties change at a moment's notice while the quest for power plays out.
There are plenty of colour and black and white illustrations and the maps are clear if lacking a little detail. Holland keeps us interested from start to finish and is the type of author you then want to read everything else they've written.
A great read and would make a good gift.
Unlike general histories, which will try to describe and explain every little detail, Tom Holland succinctly brings together a grand narrative that weaves together the most important characters and events into a rich tapestry.
While at times he is dependent on the original writings from Rome, which are perhaps more fiction than fact, at least it means the overall story is sourced from what the Romans wrote about themselves. Even better is that Holland manages to make many of the leading figures feel real using only the slightest strokes.
Overall, a wonderful achievement, and the best general history of the Roman Republic I've read to date.
It absolutely fascinated and engrossed me.
Being far from an expert I expected to discover things that I had previously not known of, what I didn't expect was the sheer amount of new information - or how radical it seemed to someone with little understanding of the ancients. When they said that 'the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there', they certainly weren't exaggerating.
Just the contrast with how cultured and devoted to learning the Romans were, compared to how casually they accepted torture and murder, as a form of entertainment. In many ways one can still relate to Roman attitudes, their humanism and open mindedness concerning religion can feel much like ourselves but, in many other ways, they're a completely alien species. Tom Holland does a brilliant job of showing the similarities and the differences.
In one of the two one star reviews the reviewer complains about the authors emphasis of the negative. I disagree.
Tom Holland has emphasized the benefits that Rome brought to the world but he also told how people were buried alive, to placate an angry God
or new born babies could be legally 'exposed'. Left out to die. In fact the male head of a family had the power of life and death over everyone else within the family - but a wife was always more controlled by her father than by her husband, and divorces often occurred because political alignments changed (as with Tiberius and Vipsania).
After reading Rubicon I immediately ordered Persian Fire, also by Holland, as well as six more Ancient Rome titles.
The Adrian Goldworthy biography of Caesar was excellent but the others were dull compared to Holland's RUBICON.
As much as Ancient Rome interests me, I do now acknowledge that Tom Hollands writing was as much to do with my enjoyment
as the actual subject I was studying.
I'm still very much an English Royal history fan but I do make a point of buying and reading any releases by Tom Holland.
His last two, Millenium and In the Shadow of the Sword, covered subjects which I wouldn't normally read
but they were enjoyable due to the authors easy going style.
Holland's next title 'DYNASTY', available from summer '15, is a welcome return to Rome as he deals with one of histories most epic sagas
The Julio-Claudian Dynasty.
I can hardly wait.....