The article takes inspiration from a new edition of Ferrero’s book Grandezza e decadenza di Roma and analyzes this work which was very criticized at the beginning of the 20th century, when the first edition was published. The article investigates how Ferrero’s book was connected with the new Italian and international historiographical climate, both in terms of methodology and in its interpretations of history. In his book, Ferrero traced an original picture of antiquity, in which on the one hand he highlighted the crisis of positivism, on the other he confirmed the leading role of Roman provinces. In this picture, Augustus’ politics was interpreted in opposition to Caesar’s. Furthermore, the article underlines how, following new methodological trends and looking through the prism of ancient Roman history, Ferrero meant to warn both the Europeans and the Italians about the dangers of mass politics and the rise of personal power.
Keywords: Guglielmo Ferrero, historiography, ancient Rome, Italian history, Julius Caesar, Augustus