This ambitious study addresses the classic questions of the emergence, flowering, and decline of ancient civilization. The focus is on the socio-economic structure of Roman antiquity, but the approach differs from those of both mainstream historiography and Marxism in that it is fundamentally sociological in orientation.
Taking its lead from the work of the great German thinker Max Weber, the book conducts an in-depth analysis of the sociology of the Roman economy, Roman politics, and related institutions. The work also encompasses history, and seeks a dialogue with the contributions of modern historians which it strives to complement and clarify. The author argues that the concept of capitalism may be successfully applied to the ancient world if one cuts the concept free from its modern connotations to create a variant appropriate to the cultural conditions of antiquity.