Ancient Rome's Immigration Policy Reframes Today's Refugee Question

Ancient Rome was a very different world from ours, so it does have any lessons to teach us? While we shouldn't model our behavior on any ancient society, Rome's treatment of immigrants is illustrative.

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Ancient Rome was a very different world from ours, so it does have any lessons to teach us? While we shouldn't model our behavior on any ancient society, Rome's treatment of immigrants is illustrative, says classicist and historian Mary Beard. While Rome's antiquated treatment of women, as subordinates, and the conquered, as slaves, provides us with an "anti-model" for contemporary society, our treatment of immigrants would have struck Romans as very strange.

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In Ancient Rome, War Was the Norm. Then Peace Broke Out.

Mary Beard, one of the world's most respected classical scholars, is the author of a brand-new history of the Roman Empire.

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What would a society look like if all it knew was war? This is the sort of question you'd expect to be tossed around in storyboard meetings for dystopian sci-fi films. Would you believe it's the kind of question that can shape an entire history of one of Earth's greatest civilizations?

Ancient Rome: "It was a culture in which it wasn’t war that broke out; it was peace that broke out." Such is the way respected classical scholar Mary Beard plunges into a fascinating discussion of militarism and society, and how the echoes of marching legions fueled the everyday ambitions of countless men. What would it have been like to live in such a time? Does anything today even remotely compare?

Mary Beard's newest book, SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome hits booksellers everywhere December 17.

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