Egypt, Greece, and Rome

Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean

Charles Freeman

Mediterranean Region --Civilization
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 1378 p
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 0-19-872194-3 (Pb)  
 Charles Freeman 1996  

by Oswyn Murray
All over Europe multi-volume histories of the ancient world are steaming
towards the millennium; most of them have as many authors as chapters, and
some of them as many editors as authors. But history-making by committee is
never wholly satisfactory because it tends to perpetuate orthodoxy and to
concentrate on established areas of study. In Mediterranean history there is a
serious need for a shorter work which can chart a less zig-zag course with only
one captain on the bridge.

Working with Charles Freeman on an earlier project convinced me that here was
a man with the enthusiasm, literary skills, and zeal for research which made him
ideally suited to writing history on a broad scale. When he proposed the present
volume, it was obvious that it would fill the need for a general and up-to-date
history of the ancient Mediterranean world in a way that was probably no longer
possible for scholars dedicated to a single civilization. In place of multiple
captains (to continue the nautical metaphor) he proposed a succession of
scholarly pilots who would direct him through the shoals of controversy into safe
mooring in each port. Thus, the unity of approach would be maintained through
a single author, but it would be supported by expert advice in each historical area.

In this book Mr Freeman has tried to give a narrative account of the main events
within each period, but also to highlight the developments in cultural and social
history, and to show something of the evidence on which his judgements are
based. He has indicated where the evidence is uncertain, or where his
interpretation may be controversial; but he has not avoided the responsibility of
making decisions about the evidence in order to present a clear account. The aim
of all of us who struggle to write in that most difficult of historical genres, the
introduction to the study of a period, must always be to combine the current state
of information with excitement and encouragement to study the subject further.
History aims at producing narratives and explanations, but it is the methods by
which these aims are achieved which constitute the most interesting aspect of
being a historian; and making historians is at least as important as writing
history. For history is a creative activity that must be renewed in each
generation: there will never be a fixed and final narrative, partly because our
evidence is incomplete and growing all the time, and partly because our
explanations of events and the ways they interconnect reflect our own
interpretation of our present world, and so are always changing. As the
philosopher and historian R. G. Collingwood insisted, it is not the facts that are
interesting in history, but the questions and their answers -- and these can never be fixed.

On behalf of his team of pilots, I would like to congratulate Charles Freeman on
the skill with which he has made use of our help to produce a new account of the
ancient world in the Mediterranean and the Near East which is both accessible to
the general reader and based on the most recent research.
Oxford April 1996

I would like to think that this book had its inception when I was 9. Holidaying
with my mother in Scotland, she and I climbed up to the top of Wardlaw Hill
near Dumfries and scrambled over the remains of a Roman fort. I seem to
remember that I fully expected to find some form of treasure concealed among
the scattered stones. It was not to be, but for the rest of the holiday we explored
other ruined sites and an interest was born. By the time I was in my teens I was
digging up Roman bath-houses and plotting the lines of Roman roads across my
native Suffolk.

I was also studying the classics at school. I had been born into the tradition. My
mother counted among her ancestors Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey ( 1515-47),
who had introduced blank verse into English literature through the medium of a
translation of the Aeneid, Books Two and Four, and his greatgrandson Thomas
Howard, Earl of Arundel ( 1585-1646). Thomas was the socalled 'Collector Earl'
who scoured the Mediterranean for antiquities and to whom, as one of his
English admirers wrote, 'this corner of the world owed their first sight of Greek
and Roman statues' (His vast collections were dispersed on his death but some
sculpture remains as part of the original core collection of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.)

The historian Clarendon described Thomas Howard as 'willing to be thought a
scholar and to understand the most mysterious parts of Antiquity', hinting
perhaps that his learning was not as deep as was his purse. My Freeman
ancestors did, however, have some claim to be considered real scholars. My
great-greatgreat-grandfather, Henry Baber, was Keeper of the Printed Books at
the British Museum for twenty-five years in the early nineteenth century and
responsible for an edition of the Codex Alexandrinus, the fifth-century Greek
text of books from the Old and New Testaments preserved in the Museum. His
daughter Ann, whom the family records describe as having been born 'at the
British Museum', a fact which has always added some flavour to my visits there,
married my great-greatgrandfather, Philip Freeman. Philip was Craven
University Scholar at Cambridge in 1838 and Senior Classic in 1839 (and later
Archdeacon of Exeter, from which position he resolutely denounced Darwin).
Some sixty years later his grandson, my great-uncle Kenneth, also won the
Craven Scholarship and was Senior Chancellor's Medallist. Tragically Kenneth
died aged only 24, having already written a scholarly introduction to Greek
education, Schools of Hellas, which was republished in the United States as
recently as 1969.

I still have over a hundred books from the libraries of these scholars and marvel
at the ease with which they must have devoured Greek and Latin texts. ....

Table of Contents
List of Colour Plates xv
List of Maps xvi
1. Rediscovering the Ancient World 1
2. Egypt, the Gift of the Nile, 3200-1500 BC 14
3. Egypt as an Imperial Power, 1500-1000 BC 33
4. Daily Life in New Kingdom Egypt 46
5. The Ancient Near East, 3500-500 BC 58
6. The Early Greeks, 2000-700 BC 76
7. The Greeks in a Wider World, 800-600 BC 96
8. Hoplites and Tyrants: The Emergence of the City State 115
9. Cultural Change in the Archaic Age 134
10. The Persian Wars 150
Interlude One. Herodotus and Egypt 166
11. Everyday Life in Classical Greece 169
12. Religion and Culture in the Greek World 186
13. Athens: Democracy and Empire 197
14. From Aeschylus to Aristotle 218
15. The Struggle for Power, 431-338 BC 240
16. Alexander of Macedon and the Expansion of the Greek World 257
17. The Hellenistic World 274
Interlude Two. Celts and Parthians 294
18. The Etruscans and Early Rome 299
19. Rome becomes a Mediterranean Power 319
20. From the Gracchi to Caesar, 133-55 BC 337
Interlude Three. Voices from the Republic 358
21. The Fall of the Roman Republic, 55-31 BC 362
Interlude Four. Women in the Roman Republic 377
22. Augustus and the Founding of Empire 381
23. Consolidating the Empire, AD 14-138 396
24. Adminstering and Defending the Empire 422
Interlude Five. The Romans as Builders 440
25. Social and Economic Life in the Empire 447
26. Transformations: The Roman Empire, 138-313 463
27. The Foundations of Christianity 483
28. The Empire in the Fourth Century 499
29. The Creation of a New Europe, 395-600 518
30. The Emergence of the Byzantine Empire 536
Epilogue: Legacies 555
Suggestions for Further Reading 564
Date Chart and List of Events 584
Acknowledgements of Sources 613
Index 618

The temple of Amun at Karnak I
Life on the land: Egyptian tomb painting, fifteenth century BC II
Etruscan banquet: tomb painting, Tarquinia, fifth century BC II
The Tholos from Delphi XIX
The potter Exechias: Dionysus with dolphins XX
Andrea Mantegna: from the Triumphs of Caesar, fifteenth century AD XXI
Mosaic of hippodrome: Gaul, third century XXII
Garden scene: wall painting, Villa of Livia, first century BC XXII
Mosaic from Ravenna: angels and evangelists, fifth century BC IXL
Giovanni Pannini: Roman Capriccio, eighteenth century AD XL

Ancient Egypt 17
The Ancient Near East, 3000-500 BC 61
The Greeks and the Phoenicians in the Mediterranean
800-600 BC 98 -9
The Greek World from the Seventh to the Fourth
Century BC 152 -3
The Athenian Empire at its Height, 440-430 BC 210
The Campaigns of Alexander the Great 260 -1
The Hellenistic Kingdoms, 190 BC 276 -7
Rome and her Allies in the Third Century AD 303
Etruscan and Roman Italy 303
The Territories of Rome and the Allies at the Time of the
Social War, 91 BC 343
The Campaigns and Conquests of Julius Caesar 366
The Roman Empire in the West 399
The Roman Empire in the East 400 -1
Provinces of the Roman Empire, AD 117 426
Invaders of the Empire in the Third Century AD 466
Diocletian's Dioceses and Provinces in the Early Fourth
Century AD 478 -9
The Mediterranean in Late Antiquity, AD 450-600 532
The Break-up of the Classical World: The
Mediterranean after the Arab Conquests 553


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