Roman Social Relations, 50 B.C. to A.D. 284

Ramsay MacMullen

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September 10, 1981
212 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
ISBN: 9780300027020
Paper

“In this interesting and suggestive book, Professor MacMullen views anew an important and rather neglected aspect of Roman social relations.  A perceptive and sensitive interpreter, he has drawn widely upon the scattered and unorganized evidence about the poorer classes, rural and urban, in much of the Roman Empire, and presents a fresh picture of their conditions, attitudes and aims.”—T. Robert S. Broughton
“Ramsay MacMullen’s work is always provocative and illuminating.  This book is no exception…Through good writing, clear presentation, and outstanding common-sense judgment the author has given us chapters to be read with pleasure by a large audience. Specialist or not…This fine book represents for us what we may legitimately know of ancient society.”—American Historical Review
“Much of the evidence which MacMullen uses in his narrative is illuminating, much of the analysis and argument lucid and compelling….Roman Social Relations is an interesting and lively book [that] should certainly be read by anyone interested in the social history of the ancient world.”—Journal of Social History
Ramsay MacMullen is the author of Paganism in the Roman Empire and Roman Government’s Response to Crisis, A.D. 235-337, among other works. He is Dunham Professor of History and Classics at Yale University and is currently president of the Association of Ancient Historians.

“In this interesting and suggestive book, Professor MacMullen views anew an important and rather neglected aspect of Roman social relations.  A perceptive and sensitive interpreter, he has drawn widely upon the scattered and unorganized evidence about the poorer classes, rural and urban, in much of the Roman Empire, and presents a fresh picture of their conditions, attitudes and aims.”—T. Robert S. Broughton

“Ramsay MacMullen’s work is always provocative and illuminating.  This book is no exception. . . . Through good writing, clear presentation, and outstanding common-sense judgment the author has given us chapters to be read with pleasure by a large audience. Specialist or not. . . . This fine book represents for us what we may legitimately know of ancient society.”—American Historical Review
 

“Much of the evidence which MacMullen uses in his narrative is illuminating, much of the analysis and argument lucid and compelling. . . . Roman Social Relations is an interesting and lively book [that] should certainly be read by anyone interested in the social history of the ancient world.”—Journal of Social History

"MacMullen has written 'an essay' about 'feeling,' about the 'inward' aspects of social relations, and he has done a fine job of it. . . . Museums and libraries are cluttered with the data of history, but it is the historian's role to catch a glimpse of something live moving in the darkness of the past. MacMullen's essay succeeds in this task."—Thomas W. Africa, The Classical World

"A fascinating sketch of the life and expectations of poorer people in the Roman empire (excluding the western provinces). . . . The student who reads it and looks up even a selection of the references will gain a new insight into the ancient world."—Times Higher Education Supplement

"[This work concerns] the social relations between different groups within the Empire over a period of more than three centuries. . . . An historian who is fully conscious of the limitations of his source material and is willing to collect and synthesize significant items of evidence and let them speak for themselves. . . . Roman Social Relations is an interesting and lively book . . . the text should certainly be read by anyone interested in the social history of the ancient world."—Social History

"This very unusual treatise breaks new ground in attempting to describe the relationships between the various classes in the Roman Empire. The author has drawn on a wide variety of ancient and modern sources and has documented his information fully in almost 60 pages of footnotes. . . . An important work, readable for both the scholar and educated layman. . . ."—History

"The author of this book attempts, from the very slim evidence that has come down to us, to reconstruct the economic and social relationships which prevailed in the ancient world among ordinary people, in town and country, slave and free. The evidence is largely non-literary, deriving from inscriptions and papyri and to some extent from archaeology. The picture the author reconstructs is of a society with an enormously affluent but infinitesimally small upper class, an extremely poor but very large lower class, and surprisingly little of what we would term a middle class. . . . Professor MacMullen's is an interesting and provocative study."—Virginia Quarterly Review

Ramsay MacMullen is the recipient of a lifetime Award for Scholarly Distinction from the American Historical Association (awarded Jan. 5, 2001). The citation begins, “Ramsay MacMullen is the greatest historian of the Roman Empire alive today.”

"[This work concerns] the social relations between different groups within the Empire over a period of more than three centuries. . . . An historian who is fully concious of the limitations of his source material and is willing to collect and synthesize significant items of evidence and let them speak for themselves. . . . Roman Social Relations is an interesting and lively book and . . . the text should certainly be read by anyone interested in the social history of the ancient world."—Social History