Jon Lendon offers a new interpretation of how the Roman empire worked in the first four centuries AD. A despotism rooted in force and fear enjoyed widespread support among the ruling classes of the provinces on the basis of an aristocratic culture of honour shared by rulers and ruled. The competitive Roman and Greek aristocrats of the empire conceived of their relative standing in terms of public esteem or honour, and conceived of their cities - towards which they
felt a warm patriotism - as entities locked in a parallel struggle for primacy in honour over rivals. Emperors and provincial governors exploited these rivalries to gain the indispensable co-operation
of local magnates by granting honours to individuals and their cities. Since rulers strove for honour as well, their subjects manipulated them with honours in their turn. Honour - whose workings are also traced in the Roman army - served as a way of talking and thinking about Roman government: it was both a species of power, and a way - connived in by rulers and ruled - of concealing the terrible realities of imperial rule.
`With the excellent book here under review, Jon Lendon has refined this whole discussion. He adroitly and cogently delineates an aspect of Roman mentality ... a read, and a really important contribution. He begins to show us the precise ways in which the Romans' socially-oriented mentality affected directly, constantly, and thoroughly the gritty day-to-day business of running an empire ... If we make of Lendon's book a garden, then it is one both
beautiful and luxuriant. It is, in fact, a garden that must be visited by anyone interested in understanding how the imperial Romans governed their empire.'
Michael Peachin, Bryn Mawr Classical Review
`There is no doubt that Lendon describes a central feature of the way in which the inhabitants of the Roman Empire thought.'
The International History Review
Series: Hansard Society Series in Politics
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 1st May 1997
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.59 x 13.97
Weight (kg): 0.56