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The Romans succeeded in less than fifty-three years in subjecting almost the whole inhabited world of their rule. This book tells the story of the rise of Rome from its origins as a cluster of villages to the foundation of the Roman Empire by Augustus and its consolidation in the first two centuries AD. It also discusses some aspects of the later Empire and its influence on western civilizations, not least through the adoption of Christianity. Chapters dealing with social and political history are interspersed with chapters on literature, philosophy, and the arts: the conquests of Rome; Roman Emperors; Plautus, Terence, Virgil and Roman literature; Roman historians such as Tacitus and Livy; Stoicism and Scepticism; and Roman art and architecture are among the topics dealt with. The historical framework of the book is reinforced by maps and chronological charts; there are bibliographies and a full index; and the book is profusely and aptly illustrated with colour and black-and-white illustrations....