An Audio-Book Review: Second Semester


Rome and the Barbarians

A series of lectures by Professor Kenneth W. Harl, Ph.D.

Published by The Learning Company

 

The Lectures:

As I said last week, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from all the fiction. Like the series on “The Great Pharaohs” which I reviewed last week, I chose this because I actually knew something about the subject. However, in this case, Dr. Harl went into details of Roman History with which I was not entirely acquainted and covered subjects I only knew a little about. So, it was very refreshing!

It is not that I knew so little about the History of Rome from its founding to the fall of the Empire, but He took the time to go into great detail, and approached it from the viewpoint of Rome’s dealing with foreigners, which was not a subject I had studied in depth.

Unlike the series on Egyptian Pharaohs, this one is given over the course of thirty-six lecture and covers only a third of the time span, so while some of the less notable emperors were passed over, most of those notable for dealing with the Barbarians were covered, including several the average person may not have heard of.

Doctor Harl is another fun lecturer to listen to and his recording sounds as though he was simply recording classes given at Tulane University, where he teaches. The dubbed in applause before and after each lecture, in fact, almost makes it sound like it was live, but I have to admit I have never heard a class applaud as their lecturer walked into the room, nor applaud again at the end of class. However, the seeming live nature of his talks includes mid-sentence corrections which, for me, enhanced, rather than took away from the experience.

The subject matter ranges from the early Roman Republic through the empire past Justinian and into the start of the Middle Ages. It’s a fairly long stretch, but the lectures cover them fairly well. I learned quite a bit throughout this class-worth of lectures even in areas I thought I was fairly knowledgeable. That is probably because I did not know as much as I thought, but also, the perspective of the lectures of Rome and her relationship with the Barbarians all along her borders was not something I had ever studied in depth.

And Rome had a lot of barbarians  along her frontiers, but then her frontiers were thousands of miles long and as time went on, there were always new barbarians  on the periphery even after the old ones had been Romanized.

So, all told, this is a really good series of lectures, given by an engaging and knowledgeable speaker.

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