Provincial at Rome. Syme, Ronald; Birley, Anthony (9780859896320). Hardback.

Provincial at Rome. Syme, Ronald; Birley, Anthony (9780859896320). Hardback.

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This volume offers a new insight into the development of a great historian, as well as giving an exciting and immensely readable new approach to late Republican and early Imperial Roman history. Drafted in 1934-35, but laid aside in favour of 'The Roman Revolution' (1939), 'The Provincial at Rome' was to have been Ronald Syme's first book. It is a brilliantly written study of the enlargement of the Roman élite in the early empire, an analysis, in thirteen chapters, of the Emperor Claudius' enrolment of 'Gallic chieftains' into the Senate in AD 48. The edition also includes five unpublished papers dealing with Rome's conquest of the Balkans, a region Syme knew intimately.

Sir Ronald Syme was regarded long before his death in 1989 as the twentieth-century's pre-eminent historian of ancient Rome. He was Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, 1929-49; Professor of Classical Philology, Istanbul, 1942-45; Camden Professor of Ancient History and Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, 1949-70; Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, 1970-1989. Anthony Birley is Professor of Ancient History in the University of Dusseldorf and was previously Professor of Ancient History in the University of Manchester. He is the author of many books on Rome and editor of Syme's Roman Papers III-VII and Anatolica.

The editor ... deserves congratulations not simply for making these interesting works available but also for partly rectifying the incomplete state of the footnotes left behind by the author.


Antony Birley and his Dusseldorf team have done a fine job in editing and presenting Syme's manuscript - clearly a considerable responsibility . . . This is a fascinating book, and can be highly recommended - it deserves attention as an historiographical gem, of enormous interest and importance in helping us understand Syme's development to become one of the greatest modern authorities on imperial Rome.

Bryn Mawr, Classical Review,

This is terrific. Syme wrote 'The Provincial at Rome' when he was 31, with all the bravura of a brilliant young scholar confident of his powers and enjoying the opportunity to display them. Anthony Birley has done an excellent and appropriate editing job.

Retrieval, reconstruction and publication of work long ago discarded by deceased scholars can be a matter for regret when better consigned to oblivion. Not so here. Many will enjoy the clear and taut arguments unencumbered by a mass of redundant annotation. Syme had a matchless talent for illuminating the nuances of Roman high society through close attention to origins, marriage, relationships and the working of patronage. Here it is deployed to illustrate the advance of new men under the Julio-Claudians, a theme to which he returned later more than once but perhaps never with the verve and brilliance of this inaugural essay.

JACT Bulletin, Vol. 29

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