A fresh new look at the Roman Empire, from the point of view of those regarded by the Romans as 'barbarians'. Kershaw builds a narrative around the lives, personalities, successes and failures both of the key opponents of Rome's rise and dominance, and of the those who ultimately brought the empire down.
'And now what will become of us without barbarians?
Those people were a sort of solution.'
'Waiting for the Barbarians'
C. P. Cavafy
History is written by the victors, and Rome had some very eloquent historians. Those the Romans regarded as barbarians left few records of their own, but they had a tremendous impact on the Roman imagination. Resisting from outside Rome's borders or rebelling from within, they emerge vividly in Rome's historical tradition, and left a significant footprint in archaeology.
Rome's history, as written by the Romans, follows a remarkable trajectory from its origins as a tiny village of refugees from a conflict zone to a dominant superpower, before being transformed into the medieval and Byzantine worlds. But throughout this history, Rome faced significant resistance and rebellion from peoples whom it regarded as barbarians.
Gibbon saw the Roman Empire as one of the highest points of human achievement destroyed by barbarian invaders: Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Goths, Vandals, Huns, Picts and Scots. To others, as Rome was ravaged, new life was infused into an expiring Italy. Gibbon's 'decline and fall' has been reappraised as transformation, through religious and cultural revolution.
Based both on ancient historical writings and modern archaeological research, this new history takes a fresh look at the Roman Empire, through the personalities and lives of key opponents of Rome's rise, dominance and fall - or transformation. These include: Brennus, the Gaul who sacked Rome; the Plebs, those barbarous insiders and internal resistors; Hannibal; Viriathus, the Iberian shepherd and skilled guerilla; Jugurtha and the struggle to free Africa; the Germanic threat from the Cimbri and the Teutones; Spartacus, the gladiator; Vercingetorix and rebellion in Gaul; Cleopatra; Boudicca, the Queen of the Iceni and the scourge of Rome; the Great Jewish Revolt; Alaric the Goth and the Sack of Rome; Attila the Hun, 'Born to Shake the Nations'; and the Vandals and the fall of Rome.
Praise for the author's A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths:
Eminently sane, highly informative, and reasonably priced. - BBC History magazine
Praise for the author's A Brief History of Atlantis:
As his exhaustive survey shows, Atlantis has been adapted to countless ideologies and agendas over time, serving the needs of every sort of reader - "harmless hippies or Heinrich Himmler", in Mr Kershaw's memorable phrase. - Wall Street Journal
Praise for the author:
The experts interviewed (a diverse bunch that includes academics, military leaders, civil-rights figures and more) [for TV documentary series Barbarians Rising] are both entertaining and illuminating, framing the barbarian cause, broadly, as a struggle for freedom against an iron-fisted opponent with unparalleled resources. - Wall Street Journal
Dr Stephen P. Kershaw has been a Classics tutor for some thirty years, teaching at all levels from beginner to PhD, currently operating out of the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, authoring and teaching undergraduate courses, and tutoring on the Masters in Literature and Art. Steve has also created Oxford University's online courses on Greek Mythology, The Fall of Rome and The Minoans and Mycenaeans. He lectures at the Victoria and Albert Museum and, as Professor of History of Art, runs the European Studies Classical Tour for Rhodes College and the University of the South. In addition to titles published by Robinson, A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths, A Brief History of the Roman Empire and A Brief History of Atlantis, he has edited The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Steve was an expert contributor to the History Channel's Barbarians Rising series; former students include the Princess of Jordan; he translated the Greek inscription on Matthew Pinsent's fourth Olympic gold medal for him after his victory in Athens; and he is a guest speaker for the Royal Academy (through Cox & Kings). He lives in the Oxfordshire village of Deddington with his wife, the artist Lal Jones.