The man in the street when Rome and its empire were in its heyday found life a perpetual holiday. He placed security before liberty; he worshipped both transcendent and immanent gods (in the person of his emperor); he rather lacked individuality. This is the man Harold Mattingly, who was in charge of the Roman coins at the British Museum for many years, has found in the text of ancient historians and, even more, in the series of Roman imperial coins. From this unusual source he has drawn the portrait of the ""optimus princeps"" and even traced the course of empire. He characterizes Rome as a totalitarian state in a condition of arrested development, the celebrated Roman peace as a combination of the emergence of a strong power, a stable central government and the recognition of the dominion of Rome. But times changed, power gradually decentralized and rose in subject cities; the sun did not shine quite so brightly on the man in the Roman street...Mr. Mattingly's ""short history of public opinion under the Roman empire"" is a rather curious little book, at once personal and impersonal, modest in its aims yet ambitious in its claims. It yields up small insights for the occasional reader.