Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire
University Press 2010
The Greco-Roman world was the prism through which the British viewed their imperial efforts, and Mark Bradley’s compendium Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire (Oxford University Press, 2010) explores the various ways in which this reception of the classics occurred. From museums, to oratorical texts, to theories of race, the classical world was a reference point for the imperial British. Bradley’s book looks at how the British thought about the classical world at a time when they were confronted by their own role as empire builders.
There was the desire to reinforce, to justify their claims to being the greatest imperial power after Rome. There was doubt; the need to reconcile the colonized to their rule even as they learnt how ancient Britons had resisted Roman rule. There was a certain humbled pride that they had managed to supplant the Romans insofar as claims to being the ‘greatest imperial power’ were concerned. There was also puzzlement; the jewel in the crown, India, was nothing like any Roman province or territory-how did this place them in relation to the Romans, who after all went about subjugating ‘barbarians’ as opposed a people with a highly sophisticated civilization of their own? These are some of the issues that concerned the Britons of the Empire, and that this book analyses with great sensitivity.