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The History of Ancient Rome

(The Great Courses)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  753 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Course Lecture Titles 1. Introduction 2. The Sources 3. Pre-Roman Italy and the Etruscans 4. The Foundation of Rome 5. The Kings of Rome 6. Regal Society 7. The Beginnings of the Republic 8. The Struggle of the Orders 9. Roman Expansion in Italy 10. The Roman Confederation in Italy 11. The International Scene on the Eve of Roman Expansion 12. Carthage and the First Punic W ...more
Audio CD, Great Courses, #340
Published January 1st 1999 by The Teaching Company
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 ·  753 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tgc
This is a survey course (audio download) about the (ancient) history of Rome and not intended as an in depth study of all of ancient Rome's very complicated history. Dr Fagan presents a no-nonsense series of lectures that provides the basis for understanding the social, political and military evolution of possibly the most important and successful civilization of the western world. From monarchy to republic to empire the Roman models have been repeated...mostly by the 'bad guys' efforts to ...more
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent lecture series.
Not a boring moment in the series.
Highly recommend it if you're interested in Roman History.
It's not as good as reading the ancient texts but it's much better & more informative than any current book on Roman History.
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-myth
I love Prof. Fagan, sexy accent and all:) He makes all history fun:)
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2020
The Great Courses are hit or miss, not because of the quality of the information, but because of the listenability of the professors involved. I thought THE HISTORY OF ANCIENT ROME was loaded with interesting information, but the professor seemed constantly pressed for time. Constant repetition of phrases like "we don't have time to go into that" or "that's a topic for another course" became monotonous.

This is a decent overview of Ancient Rome, particularly those interested in the military histo
Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
History of Rome is a complicated one, and I had some major gaps in my knowledge of it. This course was exactly what I needed. 48 lectures, starting with the early days, the monarchic period, going into republic, and continuing with the empire phase. It gave me a great overview of the political evolution of Rome, as well as some insight into the daily life of Romans, their religion, their values, and their traditions. Professor Fagan is very eloquent and listening to him was a pleasure.
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A very good and thorough but admittedly shallow look at the history of the Roman Empire from its inception to the fall of the Western Empire. It was informative and very well presented and had some asides into culture and entertainment as well as military organization. It's 38 30 minutes lectures long but well worth the time involved. ...more
Mizrob A.
Decent intro to the subject, but I think Mike Duncan's podcast is more informative and comprehensive due to the span of the subject. ...more
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nice overview of ancient Rome. Engaging.
David Readmont-Walker
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding Teaching Company series by the man, Garrett G. RIP.
Jul 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Can't recommend Fagan, or the Great Courses Lectures, enough. My brother Chris turned me on to the Great Courses & I've been enormously grateful for the many hours I've spent listening since. ...more
Fred Fifield
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent lecture series on the History of Ancient Rome. I could do without the canned applause at the beginning and ending of each lecture. That gets surprisingly annoying.
John Dembowski
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I consider myself fairly well versed in Roman history, but my knowledge could be seen as vignette in nature, with gaps between major events and characters. This course helped me bridge those gaps together to have a more complete view on the empire as a whole.


It covers from the foundations of Rome (both myth and archeological evidence) to the fall of the Western Empire. This being said, the vast majority of the lessons cover the classical period through Augustus. With
Daniel L
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
WOW. SO good! Good voice. Good overview.

I was looking for an overview of the Roman Empire from start to finish, and this was it.

Fagan is a historian. He shared bits and pieces of the evidence we have and highlighted the limitations in the extant information (for example, inscriptions, archeology, and histories written by ancient authors). This was helpful as a scientist, to understand the gaps we have in the information. His treatment was ~24 hours long, so it was a medium-depth overv
Matthew Peck
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last year I took on Ancient Egypt; this year it's Rome. Next year? My search for a general, newbie-friendly history of the Roman Empire led me the audio version of this Great Courses selection, and it seems to be fine place to start. The late Garret Fagan is a compelling and dry-humored guide, and the whole course is never, ever boring – even when the subject is the structure of popular assemblies and voting blocs. Many of my preconceived notions of the time were, shall we say, decimated. My onl ...more
Adrian Crawley
May 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: war-history
Like other reviewers have said this is a very brief overview on the entire Roman Empire, beginning to end.

As someone who knows very little about these people and this period of history, I felt that this book gives a decent overview and should be used as a means to evaluate your interest in the matter and/or what interests you the most about the Roman Empire.

If you are already interested/know more than the basics I doubt this book would shed anything new.

As for the professor teaching the course
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
Over 50 days I listened to the 48 lectures in this overview of Rome from its earliest history to the fifth century CE. I was not historically prepared for the first lectures and should listen to them again. Also, it took me a few lectures to get used to Professor Garret Fargan’s strong Irish accent. However, this Great Course is a good introduction to the topic, and worth the time spent listening. Just don't ask me any complicated questions about the topic! ...more
Ali Haidar
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Garret Fagan is the best history lecturer I have ever listened to. He is immensely knowledgeable, an excellent communicator, funny, easy to listen to, and immensely engaging. I was heartbroken to find out that he passed away at such a young age. I will always recommend this lecture series to anyone with a serious interest in roman history
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I preferred The History of Rome: The Republic by Mike Duncan, but this is a pretty decent overview. The lectures are well put together and entertaining. ...more
Charles Lupo
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was like Mike Duncan with an Irish accent.

Since I've listened to Mike's podcast thru, twice, this was mostly a refresher, and I found it good to get another author's perspective.

The course goes over the history that you'd expect, but also takes a few detours into culture and customs, that I found quite interesting.
Michael Nash
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great Overview. Bogged down a bit in the middle. Spends several lectures on Ceasar and Augustus and the leadup to the end of the Republic and rise of the Empire, then kind of yadda yaddas the next 400 years. Still, great detail on the early parts of the empire.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am referring to the audiobook.

Excellent overview of the history of Ancient Rome. Each lecture lasts about 30 minutes. If you are interested in Ancient Rome Fagan’s book is a great starting-point.
48 lectures at approx. 30 minutes each. I now know EVERYTHING I ever thought I needed to know, and many things I didn't know I needed to know about Ancient Rome. Time spans approx. BC 190 (?) - AD 500. ANCIENT Rome. ...more
Mar 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Pretty good for a survey course, it covers quite a bit over 48 lectures. Certainly, enough to get an idea from cradle to grave about the Roman Empire. I was hoping to hear more about Marcus Aurelius, though. He was but a footnote as well as Mount Vesuvius.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Solid overview of the history of Rome.
Renee Stamp
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful synopsis of the various periods of the Roman Empire as well as their culture. Would highly recommend. The lecturer delivers an excellent presentation of the material.
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you think times are tough now you should study Ancient Rome.
Ken Hamner
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very informative and interesting.
Colleen Martin
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A great, comprehensive review of one of the most fascinating times in world history.
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very much enjoyed. Great lecturer, great information. Encourages me to learn more.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this! Didn't know how ignorant I was about Roman History until I listened to these lectures! Increase your knowledge, listen!! ...more
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