No city on earth has preserved its past as has Rome. Visitors stand on bridges that were crossed by Julius Caesar and Cicero, walk around temples visited by Roman emperors, and step into churches that have hardly changed since popes celebrated mass in them sixteen centuries ago.These architectural survivals are all the more remarkable considering the violent disasters that have struck the city. Afflicted by earthquakes, floods, fires and plagues, it has most of all been repeatedly ravaged by roving armies.
‘Rome: A History in Seven Sackings’ examines the most important of these attacks and reveals, with fascinating insight, how they transformed the city – and not always for the worse.
From the Gauls to the Nazis, Kneale vividly recounts those threatening the city, while drawing an intense and vibrant portrait of the city and its inhabitants, both before and after being attacked. In these troubled times when our cities can seem fragile, Rome’s history offers a picture that is both shocking and also reassuring. Like the Neapolitans from Norman Lewis’s Naples 44, Romans have repeatedly shrugged off catastrophes and made their city anew.