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The History of Ancient Rome

Narrated by: Garrett G. Fagan
Length: 22 hrs and 40 mins
5 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Even today, the influence of Ancient Rome is indelible, with Europe and the world owing this extraordinary empire a huge cultural debt in almost every important category of human endeavor, including art, architecture, engineering, language, literature, law, and religion. At the peak of its power, Rome's span was vast. In the regional, restless, and shifting history of continental Europe, the Roman Empire stands as a towering monument to scale and stability, unified in politics and law, stretching from the sands of Syria to the moors of Scotland. And it stood for almost 700 years.

In this series of 48 spirited lectures, you'll see how a small village of shepherds and farmers rose to tower over the civilized world of its day and left a permanent mark on history. In telling Rome's riveting story, Professor Fagan draws on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, including recent historical and archaeological scholarship, to introduce the fascinating tale of Rome's rise and decline, including the famous events and personalities that have become so familiar:

  • Horatius at the bridge
  • Hannibal crossing the Alps during Rome's life-or-death war with Carthage
  • Caesar being assassinated before a statue of his archrival Pompey
  • The doomed lovers Antony and Cleopatra
  • The mad and venal emperors Nero and Caligula
  • The conversion of Constantine.

The course also addresses one of history's greatest questions: Why did the Roman Empire fall? And you'll learn why most modern scholars believe that the empire did not "fall" at all, but, rather, changed into something very different - the less urbanized, more rural, early medieval world.

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

©1999 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1999 The Great Courses

What members say

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very well rounded survey

An excellent general history of one of Europe's most influential early societies. Touches on various debates on Roman history and gives a solid foundation for more specific study.
Some trouble with vocal modulation, making some passages difficult over external background noises, but overall well presented.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A very entertaining presentation.

I found this series of lectures to be both very entertaining as well as very informative. The lecturer presents the material in a easy to grasp fashion while keeping the listener engaged. Well worth a listen to anyone interested in this era of history. #Audible1

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyable history

Well laid out history and easy to follow. I was recently in Italy and found the history interesting. These lectures are very much like a good story. Not so deep that I was lost. I listened about 1 hour a day. I very much enjoyed the lecture for the fact the speaker would say the history may not be accurate but is widely accepted.. Sometimes gave multiple viewpoints on a topic as not everything can be confirmed as proof. Enjoyed.

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great, slightly dry

Very comprehensible, probably the right balance of detail & survey for such an enormous subject. Compared to other teaching company lecturers, Fagan is not the most bouyant speaker, but he does a good job.

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Excellent

I really enjoyed this. It was my first exposure to “the great courses” and if others are on par with this, I know I won’t be disappointed.

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  • George
  • 2015-04-26

Fascinating Journey!

Would you listen to The History of Ancient Rome again? Why?

The material was compelling and a journey into the past by a great professor.

What did you like best about this story?

The profound amount of change and struggle on how Rome evolved. I never knew and so glad I bought this.

Have you listened to any of Professor Garrett G. Fagan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I thought he spoke very well and for the amount of info I had to learn his cadence and tone was very good and I was hooked and attentive throughout and would buy another w/him.

Any additional comments?

I missed out on this history during HS and College and my curiosity led me to this book. I listened on way to work for about 4 weeks, one lesson each day, before my trip to Italy. I always wanted to know about this history and found it truly fascinating and exciting to learn something I may have missed. I'd never go read this and audio made it the only way to go. I think worth the investment of time if you want to round out your knowledge base on the world this is a must.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Ark1836
  • 2017-05-02

Well-Done

Let me first preface my review by saying that I was a history major in college, and I have long had an interest in Ancient Rome. I have read many books and watched many documentaries on the topic over the decades. So, I am not a newcomer to this topic, but I still learned things in this course. The professor is cogent and organized and provides a good timeline. My main complaint is that this is a little too much of a broad survey course for such a nuanced and important part of history. The later part of Roman history especially gets short shrift, though, to his credit, the professor warns the listeners at the beginning of his intent. He justifies this at least somewhat by arguing there is a nebulous line between the end of late Roman period and the beginning of the early Medieval period. While there is an argument to be made for his approach, I wish this one of the Great Course's 60 lesson classes to give enough time to do more justice to the Imperial and late Roman periods. That being said, I will give the professor the benefit of the doubt that he did not have a say as to the length of the course.

I really liked the professor's tempo of switching between political and social history. He struck a very nice balance, which is often hard to do with many courses becoming overly dominated by one or the other.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • 2014-02-27

A Fine But Very General Overview of Roman History

Any additional comments?

This is a good read for anyone who wants a broad overview of the history of Rome. The lecturer does a great job delivering his content and he covers Roman history from its origins in myth, legend, and archaeology as a series of settlements on the banks of the Tiber and continues its journey through its monarchical period, the Roman Republic, the Imperial period, and ends around the fall of the Western part of the Roman empire in the 5th century AD. He is thorough and roughly chronological in his presentation.

However, anyone who considers listening to this should understand that this audio book is "broad" in the fullest sense of the word. The lecturer makes no attempt at being comprehensive and tells his listeners time and again that he cannot and does not make an attempt to treat any topic in great depth. This means that anyone looking for a thorough overview of any aspect of Roman history and culture, such as literature, art, architecture, religion, military history, political history, or even the careers of indispensable figures such as Caesar himself should look elsewhere. This was my only "disappointment" with this book. I entered into it hoping to learn much more about many of these specific elements, but left feeling like I had learned only a very little about a very lot of material. I do not think this is any fault of the book or the lecturer though. There is so much potential content to cover that one has go to more specialized studies if you want to go into any depth. So in summary this book will give you a good overview, but only an overview. Those who already know a lot about Roman history will find little to learn here, but those who don't or have only a vague sense of it will definitely benefit.

All told this is a good overview of Roman history and a worthwhile listen. Enjoy your travels to the ancient Mediterranean!

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael J Canning
  • 2015-04-12

Like listening to the Cliffs Notes version

I was disappointed with this course. I found it a superficial and unsatisfying listen. There were a few really excellent and perceptive lectures, but that was more the exception than the rule. I don't think the shortcomings are Fagan's, but more due to the format, which consists of lectures that average about 20 min each, and don't allow for much analysis. Even Fagan seems frustrated by this - constantly reminding listener of and apologizing for the many things that he will not have time to mention on the course.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Sean
  • 2013-10-05

Accessible

Any additional comments?

As an amateur with a long interest in Roman History I found this series highly engaging and incredibly informative.
Professor Fagan has an easy style and the content is simply brilliant. The flow of the narrative is superb and the connection to the thematic section of the course is well constructed.
I have read bits of Pliny and currently I am reading Gibbon. I feel these are works that require a solid base in Roman History prior to attacking and I now feel like I am armed to teeth thanks to this course.
Thoroughly recommended to anyone with anything from a passing interest to a life long love affair with Roman History.

28 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • Joey
  • 2014-02-04

Terrific Overview

Where does The History of Ancient Rome rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The best

What did you like best about this story?

Well paced, with narrative giving way to thematic discussions toward the end; professor is extremely knowledgeable with sense of humor that leavens the topic just enough

Have you listened to any of Professor Garrett G. Fagan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

no, but 1-1.5 hours at a time was not uncommon

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Megan Clanton
  • 2013-07-28

So Much Better Than Reading a History Book!

... And I do love to read!

I'm currently about halfway through Professor Fagan's "The History of Ancient Rome" in Audible's Great Courses, and it's been well-worth every minute. I am a high school Latin teacher, and I needed a good refresher course on Roman history, as it's been a long time since college. Not only is the material fantastic (despite early attempts to just listen while doing laundry, etc., I've planted myself in front of my laptop because I can't stop taking notes), but Dr. Fagan is an entertaining speaker. (He has a wonderful accent.) The combination has made Roman history far easier to get through than would be a traditional textbook.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Sad Donkey
  • 2013-10-27

Fantastic

Prof. Fagan was able to rekindle my love of ancient history. Having been out of undergrad for many years now, I had forgotten how much fun "otium cum dignitate" can be. We all find ourselves drawn into our respective specialities (for me, medicine), only reading those books or papers directly relevant to our jobs. We forget what it is like to learn for the sake of learning.

This course took me back to the Western Civ, Latin and Philosophy courses in my undergrad years, which were wonderful for their own sakes. Not because I _need_ to know this stuff, but because I _want_ to.

The courses are laid out very well with a clear outline, concise topics and a logical progression. Each lecture can stand on its own, yet it builds on those before it. The storytelling employed is exemplary and draws you in. It made my daily commute much more productive and entertaining. The hour per day I sit in my car becomes my "otium cum dignitate" again.

Next step: relearn Latin!

I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in renewing their own curiosity. It you have a trip to Rome planned, it certainly can have practical uses as well.

22 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • EmilyK
  • 2017-07-04

Favorite intro to Ancient Rome

This is my favorite of the Great Courses. I find all their history series enjoyable but this is truly superb.
- It holds up well and is understandable even if you have little to no background knowledge, but is also enjoyable even if you know much of the material.
- Fagan has an excellent balance of covering the facts and the story, yet also alerting the listener to major schools of interpretation. (Some of the teaching company courses assume a basic knowledge of the information, which can then make them difficult for the beginner.)
- Fagan has a wonderful accent and delivery style, and even a bit of dark humor.

This was so good I'm looking for his other courses and might re-listen to this one. I was so very sorry to see that he died recently, much too soon.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Micky_spanish
  • 2017-04-18

Incredibly Interesting

Prof. Fagan tells it in a great narrative way to make you want to keeps coming back for more.

P.S. look up "ad hoc" if you don't know what it means, he'll say it a lot.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful