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The Roman Empire: From Augustus to the Fall of Rome

Follow a renowned history professor as he uncovers five hundred years of the Roman Empire.

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Reviews

p********m
June 18, 2019
I enjoy everything Dr. Aldrete produces. His courses are very informative and the guidebooks are well-produced, with decent reading lists following each lesson. Moreover, he is an engaging lecturer. Nevertheless, I pine for the good old days of the Great Courses, when the instructors didn’t dance around before multiple camera angles. Take, as an example, Professor Garrett Fagan’s course “The History of Ancient Rome,” a much earlier production by the Great Courses (and not available for streaming). The course treats the period covered in Dr. Aldrete’s two Roman courses. Nevertheless, the presentations of the two instructors could not be more different. Dr. Aldrete shifts between three or more camera angles during the course of a lecture, reads from a teleprompter (indeed, the artificial inflections of voice can occasionally irritate), and supplies various exhibits during several lectures, eg. a Roman soldier’s kit, authentic togas, etc. The graphics are also very good, with detailed maps and frequent lists and transcriptions of extensive quotations. Finally, Dr. Aldrete devotes several entire lectures to cultural topics, such as the games, graffiti and inscriptions, and the hazards of Roman life, that might not receive as much attention in a straightforward history. By contrast, Dr. Fagan’s course presents history in a much more traditional manner, lacking most of the cultural lessons that Dr. Aldrete gives. He also doesn’t move around as much. In fact, he doesn’t move around at all, standing for the entirety of each lesson behind a lectern that contains his lecture notes. Perhaps I am in the minority, but I prefer this straightforward method. Too often during Dr. Aldrete’s lectures, with all the jumping around and gesticulation, the switches from camera to camera, and the artificial-sounding inflections of voice, I feel as though I am being treated to a show rather than a presentation of information. This is a shame, since in fact all of Dr. Aldrete’s several courses, as I noted above, are HIGHLY informative. There are plusses to Dr. Aldrete’s approach, which is actually the approach of all the more recent Great Courses: more pictures and realia, better maps and other graphics, more varied kinds of information. For instance, in the lecture on the Roman army we are shown a full replica of a legionary’s armor and sword. Made me wish I owned one myself! He presents two lectures wearing Roman costume, in one a Roman toga, in another the clothing an emperor wore. I appreciate these touches. Certainly, the Great Courses formula seems to be succeeding, and I would not have them change it, but I truly enjoyed watching lectures in which the only purpose was the efficient, clear presentation of material of intrinsic interest. If you would like to compare the two kinds of presentation, Dr. Jeremy McInerney’s “Ancient Greek Civilization” is very similar in format to Dr. Fagan’s, and is available to be streamed. The material generates its own interest and I find that I can watch those far more simple videos with no less enjoyment than the current, more hopped up versions.

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g********m
June 17, 2019
Why stop at five stars? Like Dr. Aldrete's other courses, this one is excellent. It's the next best thing to actually being on the floor of the Roman Senate or riding into battle with Constantine.

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p********m
June 10, 2019

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