This work by one of the most learned scholars and experts on ancient Rome is a valuable investigation of the history of the Roman Near East from 31 B.C. to A.D. 337.
Reviewed by Tony Keen i Bryn Mawr Classical Review 94.05.17.
“From Augustus to Constantine, the Roman Empire in the Near East expanded step by step, southward to the Red Sea and eastward across the Euphrates to the Tigris. Fergus Millar shows the reader this world as it was forged into the Roman provinces of Syria, Judaea, Arabia and Mesopotamia.
“His book aims to convey the sweep of history as well as the rich diversity of peoples, religions and languages that intermingle in the Roman Near East. Against this complex backdrop, Millar explores questions of cultural and religious identity and ethnicity – as aspects of daily life in the classical world and as part of the larger issues they raise.
“As Millar traces the advance of Roman control, he gives a picture of Rome’s policies and governance over its far-flung empire. He introduces the reader to major regions of the area and their contrasting communities, bringing out the different strands of culture, communal identity, language, and religious belief in each.
“The Roman Near East makes it possible to see rabbinic Judaism, early Christianity and eventually the origins of Islam against the matrix of societies in which they were formed. Millar’s evidence also permits the reader to assess whether the Near East is best seen as a regional variant of Graeco-Roman culture or as in some true sense oriental.”