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There were less cumbersome options when choosing to dive into a Mommsen writing. Having committed to reading a work by every Nobel Laureate for Literature and Mommsen being only the second chronologically, it would have been wiser to choose a shorter, singular work. But too many of the man's contemporaries like Mark Twain raved about his comprehensive History of Rome and so, alas, this long and exhaustive project. Mommsen is accused of tediousness in his style but, in truth, he is just immensely comprehensive and invested in his quest to show us our ancient past. And, of course, this isn't just Rome but western civilization from Rome's founding and it's earliest monarchic origin, through its various republican and democratic incarnations bringing us full circle with the return of monarchy under Julius Caesar. This project required a commitment of an hour almost daily over eight months but it was worth the investment in that so many holes of my historical knowledge have now been filled. Mommsen wrote more about Rome's later eras which I will likely dive into later. For now, I move on both exhausted and grateful for this literary journey well written and well spoken.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
After 90 hours, I feel like I have developed a much deeper understanding of Republican Rome. Mommsen's commentary is interesting enough that the sections where I already had a firm grasp were not boring (for instance, the section on Caesar's Gallic War where the primary source is Caesar's Commentaries which I had just read).
I would definitely not attempt to either read this volume without the others or to read the entire book without already having a good grasp of the basic outlines from a shorter, popular history (Anthony Everitt has a good starter book on the Roman Republic). Mommsen develops too many themes focused on legal/philosophical concepts to skip the early volumes, and going into the project without already knowing the basic outline of Roman history and government will be difficult when he goes off on tangents. He gets pretty deep in the weeds.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful