Although the book marks a counterpoint in many ways to some of the fundamental assumptions made by Finley and his Cambridge colleagues, it is written within that historical tradition. This mode of study places an emphasis on the structure of not just the economy, but other aspects of society in relation to the cultural impact of Rome. The influence of the historiographical tradition of Keith Hopkins’s Conquerors and Slaves (1978) can be found in many sections of the book. His work produced a model of change for Italy in the second and first centuries BC and of the impact of imperialism on Roman society that still remains influential and at the forefront of historical thought on ancient Italy. In this book, in contrast,

I am concerned with the impact on Italy of change in the nature of transportation. In a way the book follows on from my work on Pompeii (Laurence 1994a), which was concerned with a single city study of the use of space in its temporal setting (i.e. Pompeii’s space-time), in line with an earlier study by Jongman (1988) of the economy of Pompeii in the Finley/ Hopkins tradition. There I was asserting the importance of space and time for our understanding of the city in Italy, as much as its economic forma­ tion. What I wanted to do in that book was to make an initial step by subjecting Pompeii to the full force of current geographical theory and scholarly thought on space-time (see Soja 1996 for the most recent sum­ mary). I viewed the city as a unit in a wider social system in the tradition of other studies and had a preoccupation with the nature of the city stemming from Finley’s publications (see papers in Rich and Wallace-Hadrill 1991; Cornell and Lomas 1995; Parkins 1997; also Finley 1973 and 1977). The tradition of the city as an object of analysis stems from the Greek view of the city state. Although in Roman Italy the city state continued to be the basis of local government, in no way did these cities act in the manner of the Greek city states of the fifth century BC, and there is a case to be made for a political cohesion in the Italian peninsula from the first century BC (see Millar 1998: 13-48; Mouritsen 1998: 49; also Wiseman 1971: 28). The way that I view Italy in this book is as a series of cities that constitute a whole through their interconnection by the road system itself, and the action of travel and transportation. In other words the road system is seen as an example of a structure that is between places, which joins them together to create an artificial unity. This view is in tune with modern perspectives from geography that have even intruded into the study of Roman political history (Millar 1998: 3). This viewpoint avoids the pitfalls of regional studies based on abstract areas defined by ancient geographers after the events under study. The betweenness of space sums up the fluidity of the regions of the Italian peninsula under Rome and the temporal distances between places that separated them from each other. The latter would vary according to the position of a place within the network of roads at a specific time. Hence the book is about the relationship of transport to the city within the context of the formation of a unified Italy.