Space, Geography, and Politics in the Early Roman Empire

Claude Nicolet
Studies the effect of Rome's geographic worldview on its politics


Drawing on unexpected texts both ancient and modern, Space, Geography, and Politics in the Early Roman Empire offers startling insights into the character of Rome and its princeps-turned-emperor, Augustus. Claude Nicolet documents Roman expansion at the start of the early imperial period and explores how Romans came to map the world they knew and conquered. The roles of both the agrimensores, who worked in the state’s interest observing and recording new territories, and M. Vipsanius Agrippa, the sometime son-in-law of Emperor Augustus, are considered. Nicolet also presents the integral relations between territorial expansion and political expansion, as well as between propaganda cultivated in the national interest and propaganda designed to secure the status of the princeps as primus inter pares, first among equals.

“. . . thoughtful and thought-provoking, acute in its reasoning, . . . original, and admirably erudite.”
Classical Philology

“The reader of this detailed geographical and administrative study will gain a fuller appreciation both of Augustus’ achievement in organizing the space of Rome’s empire and of the consequent durability of the empire and its later influence.”
Classical World

“It is the great merit of Nicolet’s book that it makes one see very familiar things, like Tiberius’ survey, in a new light.”
Journal of Roman Archaeology

Cover photo: Roman coin with a profile of Augustus (private collection).

Claude Nicolet was Professor at the Sorbonne, Directeur d’Études of École Pratique des Hautes Études (IVe Section), and of the Centre Gustav Glotz in Paris.  He was also a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . thoughtful and thought-provoking, acute in its reasoning, often original, and admirably erudite. . . . [Nicolet] assembles a wealth of material, proposes new and often ingenious connections, and substantially broadens the dimensions of the Augustan age. The work will have a place in all future discussions of that era."
    —Erich S. Gruen, Classical Philology
  • "It is the great merit of Nicolet's book that it makes one see very familiar things, like Tiberius' survey, in a new light."
    —Fergus Millar, Journal of Roman Archaeology

Look Inside

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 276pp.
  • 56 illustrations, photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1991
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10096-5

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  • $89.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03623-3

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  • $40.95 U.S.



  • Ancient Rome
    Emperor Augustus
    M. Vispanius Agrippa
    Roman empire--territorial expansion
    Roman empire--political expansion
    Roman empire--propaganda