The Triumph of Empire takes readers into the political heart of imperial Rome and recounts the extraordinary challenges overcome by a flourishing empire. Michael Kulikowski’s history begins with the reign of Hadrian, who visited the farthest reaches of his domain and created stable frontiers, and spans to the decades after Constantine the Great, who overhauled the government, introduced a new state religion, and founded a second Rome.
Factionalism and intrigue sapped the empire from within, even at its apex. Roman politics could resemble a blood sport: rivals resorted to assassination; emperors rose and fell with bewildering speed, their reigns measured in weeks, not years; and imperial succession was never entirely assured. Canny emperorsincluding Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, and Diocletianconstantly cultivated the aristocracy’s favor to maintain a grip on power. Despite such volatility, the Roman Empire protected its borders, defeating successive attacks from Goths and Germans, Persians and Parthians. Yet external threats persisted and the imperial government sagged under its own administrative weight. Religion, too, was in flux with the rise of Christianity and other forms of monotheism. In the fourth century CE, Constantine and his heirs reformed imperial institutions by separating civilian and military hierarchies, restructuring the government of both provinces and cities, and ensuring the prominence of Christianity.
The Triumph of Empire is a fresh, authoritative narrative of Rome at its height and of its evolutionfrom being the central power of the Mediterranean world to becoming one of several great Eurasian civilizations.
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About the Author
Michael Kulikowski is the author of Rome’s Gothic Wars, Late Roman Spain and Its Cities, and The Triumph of Empire (Harvard). Kulikowski has appeared in a number of documentaries on the History Channel, including Barbarians Rising, Rome, and Criminal History: Rome, and writes frequently for the Wall Street Journal and London Review of Books. He is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Classics at Pennsylvania State University.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations x
1 The Early Years of Hadrian 13
2 The Late Reign and the Succession 13
3 Peace and War at Mid-Century 37
4 The Last of the Antonines 56
5 Septimius Severus and His Rivals 72
6 The Reign of Severus 85
7 The Later Severans 98
8 Eurasian History and the Roman Empire 117
9 From Gordian III to Valerian 137
10 Valerian and the Generals 159
11 The Last of the Soldier Emperors 179
12 Diocletian, Constantine and the Creation of the Later Roman Empire 194
13 The Failure of the Tetrarchy 219
14 Constantine and Licinius 229
15 The Structure of Empire Before and After Constantine 245
16 The Constantinian Empire 265
17 The Children of Constantine 282
18 Constantius, Julian and the Empire to Come 299
The Roman Emperors from Augustus to Julian 310
Persian Kings from Ardashir to Shapur II 312
Further Reading 313