Rivers and the Power of Ancient Rome

By Brian Campbell

608 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 19 halftones, 4 figs., 20 maps, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6866-6
    Published: November 2021
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8078-3480-0
    Published: August 2012
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6904-8
    Published: August 2012

Studies in the History of Greece and Rome

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Figuring in myth, religion, law, the military, commerce, and transportation, rivers were at the heart of Rome's increasing exploitation of the environment of the Mediterranean world. In Rivers and the Power of Ancient Rome, Brian Campbell explores the role and influence of rivers and their surrounding landscape on the society and culture of the Roman Empire.

Examining artistic representations of rivers, related architecture, and the work of ancient geographers and topographers, as well as writers who describe rivers, Campbell reveals how Romans defined the geographical areas they conquered and how geography and natural surroundings related to their society and activities. In addition, he illuminates the prominence and value of rivers in the control and expansion of the Roman Empire--through the legal regulation of riverine activities, the exploitation of rivers in military tactics, and the use of rivers as routes of communication and movement. Campbell shows how a technological understanding of--and even mastery over--the forces of the river helped Rome rise to its central place in the ancient world.

About the Author

Brian Campbell is professor of Roman history at Queen's University of Belfast.
For more information about Brian Campbell, visit the Author Page.


“Great value, enhanced by excellent maps and diagrams, learned notes, and a judicious bibliography. Highly recommended. Graduate students, faculty.”--Choice

“Campbell has gathered and analyzed an impressive battery of ancient comments and reflections on rivers."--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Extensively researched, well put together, and highly readable, Rivers and the Power of Ancient Rome is important for anyone interested in Roman history and society."--The NYMAS Review

"A welcome, useful, and significant contribution that provides a solid foundation for future studies."--American Historical Review

"[Campbell's] contribution is most welcome and will long remain the point de départ for any study of Roman perspectives on and utilization of the Mediterranean's watery landscapes."--Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“An empire-wide study that reconstructs ancient river environments and surveys ancient responses to the benefits and dangers of rivers.”--The Historian