The Romans

Andrea Giardina (editor)

translated from the Italian by Lydia G. Cochrane
The University of Chicago Press 1993
A book review by Danny Yee © 1995
The Romans explores the diversity of Roman society by exploring the variety of its roles. A dozen chapters (written by separate specialists) each describe a different "kind" of Roman: citizens, priests, jurists, soldiers, slaves, freedmen, peasants, craftsmen, merchants, the poor, and bandits, with a final chapter on the distinction between Romans and non-Romans. The geographical, temporal and social variation even within these categories is stressed. (One startling omission from The Romans is any discussion of womens' roles: while women are mentioned in several places, there is nothing specifically on topics such as prostitution, marriage, or motherhood.)

The chapters do not assume a particular theoretical background, but their focus is anthropological rather than historical. Though literary sources are used (along with epigraphic and archaeological ones), the authors try their best to escape the dominance of literary stereotypes, both contemporary and modern. The reader is assumed to have a background in Roman history, but The Romans should be accessible to non-specialist anthropologists and sociologists. It's been a long time since I learned as much about Rome as I did from The Romans, and I recommend it to anyone who wants an introduction to recent work on the subject.

September 1995

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%T The Romans
%E Giardina, Andrea
%M Italian
%F Cochrane, Lydia G.
%I The University of Chicago Press
%D 1993
%O paperback, references, index
%G ISBN 0226290506
%P x,393pp