Modern treatments of Rome have projected in highly emotive terms the perceived problems, or the aspirations, of the present: "race-mixture" has been blamed for the collapse of the Roman empire; more recently, Rome and Roman society have been depicted as "multicultural." Moving beyond these and beyond more traditional, juridical approaches to Roman identity, Emma Dench focuses on ancient modes of thinking about selves and relationships with other peoples, including descent-myths, history, and ethnographies. She explores the relative importance of sometimes closely interconnected categories of blood descent, language, culture and clothes, and territoriality. Rome's creation of a distinctive imperial shape is understood in the context of the broader ancient Mediterranean world within which the Romans self-consciously situated themselves, and whose modes of thought they appropriated and transformed.
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