Rome has always been synonymous with an immense empire built on conquest and military power. It is our historical touchstone in a political, administrative and military sense, and lies at the foundation of our culture. When we think of Rome, we think of emperors (preferably mad) and gladiators (usually exotic). But what does Rome look like if we try to escape these stereotypes?
This book wants to show readers a different image of Rome, an image characterised first and foremost by the diversity of the Roman world. We can only understand that diversity if we study the Roman world as a whole – not split into east and west or into provinces – and in the context of world history. We will do so by looking into seven themes that together offer a comprehensive overview in which dynamics and change are the central concepts. In order to shed light on the local aspect, we will focus on three regions which are Roman in their very own and unmistakeable ways: the Italian peninsula, Egypt, and the Low Countries. The Roman Empire has many faces. Some of the more important ones will be singled out here, creating a kaleidoscopic image of a changing world and a new image of the Roman Empire that will help to set rusty views in motion again.