The enormous size of the Roman empire and the length of time it endured call for an understanding of the institutions which sustained it. In this book, Keith Hopkins, who is both classicist and sociologist, uses various sociological concepts and methods to gain new insights into how traditional Roman institutions changed as the Romans acquired their empire. He examines the chain reactions resulting from increased wealth; various aspects of slavery, especially manumission and the cost of freedom; the curious phenomenon of the political power wielded by eunuchs at court; and in the final chapter he discusses the Roman emperor's divinity and the circulation of untrue stories, which were a currency of the political system. Professor Hopkins has developed an exciting approach to social questions in antiquity and his book should be of interest to all students of ancient history and of historical sociology.
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