“In the second century of the Christian era, the Empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilised portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valour. The gentle but powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces. Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury.”
—Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
“At the hour of midnight the Salerian gate was silently opened, and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the Imperial city, which had subdued and civilised so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia.”
—Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The rise and fall of imperial Rome constitute one of the most important narratives in Western history—Christian history in particular. The Romans contributed core elements to government, politics, art, engineering, and almost everything else we know as modern. Under Nero, Maximinus Thrax, and Decius, Rome subjected Christians to atrocities. Under Constantine, Rome helped Christianity flourish.
If you’re studying Christianity and overlooking Rome, you’re overlooking essential context.
Study Rome from its rise to its fall
Logos offers several important resources on ancient Rome—in particular, Polybius’ The Histories, Appian’s Roman History, Livy’s History of Rome, Cassius Dio’s Roman History, and Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Together, these works set you up to study Roman history from its beginning to its end.
1. Rome’s rise
Polybius’ The Histories gives you a fascinating look at Rome’s ascent between 264 and 146 BC. The Greek historiographer analyzes all the factors that contributed to Rome’s dominance: above all, strong leadership, the separation of powers, and advantages of geography.
2. Rome’s zenith
- Appian’s Roman History is the only surviving account of the Roman civil wars, which were enormously important to Rome’s trajectory overall. Appian doesn’t name his sources outright, but scholars agree that Appian built on the work of Polybius; Logos lets you study these Roman histories side by side. And if you bid now, you can get Roman History for 73% off.
- Livy’s History of Rome surveys Rome’s history from its mythical founding to the reign of Augustus. Livy offers narrative, not just chronology; in fact, books 1–10 and 21–30 have become defining examples of Golden Age Latin. Right now, History of Rome is on Community Pricing for a full 85% off!
- Cassius Dio’s Roman History covers 1,400 years, from the founding of Rome to AD 229. Dio really shines in his treatment of events after the first century BC, many of which he witnessed firsthand; his account is unmatched in detail. You can get Dio’s Roman History for 78% off on Community Pricing.
3. Rome’s fall
Edward Gibbons classic History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is by far the most famous work on ancient Rome, and Gibbon devotes several chapters to Christianity in the Roman world. In a 1997 review, History of the Christian Church magazine noted that “for fullness and general accuracy and artistic representation [Gibbon’s] work is still unsurpassed”; years earlier, no less a rhetor than Winston Churchill credited Gibbon’s lofty style with influencing his own. History of the Decline and Fall is a remarkable overview of the factors that contributed to Rome’s undoing and the lessons that Roman history holds for world powers today. Plus, at $17.95, it’s an astonishing value.
Study Roman context with the best resources
Most of these works are on Community Pricing, which means that prices are going up very soon. Likewise, Polybius’ The Histories is on Pre-Pub, but it won’t be for long—if you’re at all interested in the ancient world, you should pre-order it now.
Pre-order Polybius’ The Histories right now, and add a more modern perspective with Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Then keep reading—how did Augustine influence philosophy?