continue to Elagabalus - Conduct Unbecoming
Third and final part in our emperor series on Elagabalus` life. Thus,with the empire at peace and as economically stable as it could be given the third century macro-economic situation, the populace were free to sit back and take in the antics of their new emperor. These antics can be loosely put into two groups – the emperor's unconventional religious beliefs and his unconventional sexuality...
continue to Elagabalus - Conduct Unbecoming
Let us start with the main point – if you are looking for a book which tells you what happened immediately after the Peloponnesian War which ended in 404 BC, this is probably the best book for the job.
Godfrey Hutchinson, author of Xenophon and the Art of Command (Greenhill Books 2000), returns to the works of Xenophon and basically re-examines the material covered in that old general's history, the Hellenica. However, Hutchinson does not uncritically accept Xenophon's account, but offers alternative material from other sources such as Diodorus and the Oxyrhynchus papyri to give as clear an explanation of events as the general reader is likely to find. Those with a more technical understanding of the topic might prefer Paul Cartledge's Agesilaos and the Crisis of Sparta (Hushion House 2000). This covers much the same ground, but makes much less allowance for the general reader than does Hutchinson's book...
....continue to the review of Sparta: Unfit for Empire by by Godfrey Hutchinson
There’s nothing like ancient Roman literature to help put things into perspective. Here in the United States, our attention is riveted on the capricious and outrageous proclamations and actions of our prospective leaders. “He’s going to build a WALL! She sent illegal EMAILS! He’s friends with Putin! She will undermine the very fabric of our republic, and destroy society as we know it! He won’t even show us his tax returns!!! Canada’s too close – I’m moving to Neptune! We want Bernie!”
Yawn. Americans. Bunch of pansies. Lightweights. You want to talk about depravity and conspiracy from your leaders? How about our boy Nero? His mom marries the local mover and shaker. She cuts his natural born son out of the family business and maneuvers her son into position. To express his gratitude, Nero kills her, and the previous heir to boot. He kills a couple of his wives, and then decides that maybe a boy would me more to his liking, after certain, uh, modifications are made. He plays at being an actor and musician instead of doing his job, and makes all of his rich and powerful associates do likewise – under threat of death. He kills a bunch more people. Torture. Incest. Matricide. Murder...
...continue to the review of The Emperor Nero: A Guide to the Ancient Sources by Barrett, Fantham and Yardley
This one-volume mini-encyclopedia will tell you everything you need to know about Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD), the aristocratic Jewish priest and general who surrendered to the Roman commanders Vespasian and Titus in 67 AD and became an author of 30 volumes of works (The Jewish Wars, Jewish Antiquities and others), all written in Greek, the lingua franca of the Roman Empire’s intelligentsia. References in this review to the text will be made by page number, and not by author and title of article, since the style and overall assessment of Josephus are quite consistent.
...continue to the review of A Companion to Josephus by Chapman and Rodgers
The word Viking has a potent symbolism. It represents a stereotype of the dark age warrior, a byword for rape and pillage. The story goes that Charlemagne wept when he first saw Viking raiders because he knew what a menace they would become. "Protect us, oh Lord, from the wrath of the Northmen" wrote one dark age cleric, clearly summing up the fear of predation by Scandinavian raiders. It was this sturdy aggression that saw the Vikings become part of Nazi propaganda in the Second World War...
...continue to the review of Viking Nations by Dayanna Knight
Some book reviews are easy to write and some are difficult. Casting Lots falls into the latter category, but not because it is poorly written, or based on a flawed premise, or has a weak story line. It’s challenging because it is so good! It’s like a diamond of great price with many glittering facets waiting to be discovered, but it is well-hidden and requires patience to find.
The author, William D. McEachern, was born in New York City and is a graduate of Duke University with a bachelor of arts in religion and psychology with a focus on early Christianity. Latin and Greek classes and reading about Caesar fueled his love of Rome and ancient history, which he has studied for half a century. As a practicing tax attorney for more than thirty-six years, he is now pursuing his passion for writing and presents a unique blend of law, religion, and history...
...continue to the review of Casting Lots by William D. McEachern
Over recent years there has been a deluge of books concerning the fate of Europe both during and after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Probably some of the most important of these has been a series produced by the Boydell Press. The series contains papers given at a number of conferences, each covering the various ‘peoples’ who inherited the remnants of the Western Roman Empire, all of which papers have the ‘Ethnographical’ aspect firmly to the fore.
The papers contained within ‘The Langobards Before the Frankish Conquest’ (LBFC) analyse the society of the Langobards – as far as is possible – from just before their first invasion of Italy in 568-9 until their conquest by the Frankish king Charlemagne in 774. Unlike the majority of the other ‘Germanic’ invaders of the West, such as the Franks or the Visigoths, the Langobards failed to occupy a simple coherent geographical area, instead conquering spatially divergent regions of Italy, with other parts of the peninsula being ruled by the Pope and the Byzantine Empire.
...continue to the review of The Langobards before the Frankish Conquest
What's the big deal about empires? Well, our tribal nature stems from primeval social instincts and as a result, our inner desire to be part of the winning team tends to induce a sense of fascination with imperial status. We admire their power, strength, or achievement. We resent their bullying and imperialism when it intrudes on our lives. Not for nothing is the concept of empire an essential backbone of science fiction literature, television, and film. However the great paradox about mighty empires is their brittle internal politics and fragile nature. Few people born have ever had the necessary qualities to please everyone and secure total loyalty. With so much power and wealth possible within an empire, it's hardly surprising that the ambitious and greedy gravitate toward positions of influence and if need be become quite dangerous in their quest to grab it all...
...continue to the review of The Fall of the Seleukid Empire 187-75 BC by John D. Grainger
Scholar or not, if you have a yearning for visuals of the epic story of the cradle of civilisation, this is an essential for your bookshelf.
For the really ancient history, those who have relied on Michael Roaf’s Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East will enjoy this 300-page large paperback for its colour maps and illustrations on pretty much every page. The Roman section will appeal greatly to members of UNRV, not least a double page spread showing Rome’s eastern provinces in AD 14, a section on Baalbek (in modern Lebanon) and its Temple of Jupiter, Herod the Great’s kingdom and a potted history of Jerusalem, the Parthian struggle, a map showing Trajan’s expansion, and the concluding sections mentioned above...
...continue with the review of the Atlas of the Ancient Near East by Trevor Bryce and Jessie Birkett-Rees
In itself, White’s biography of Aurelian is commendable. He persuasively argues that Aurelian is important, and has been unfairly neglected by historians. After all his military victories rival those of Trajan and Vespasian; his work ethic that of Marcus Aurelius. This 3rd century emperor, dubbed the ‘Restorer of the World’ by his contemporaries, deserves attention from anyone interested in history and the classics. In addition, White goes further. He provides readers not only with a biography of Aurelian, but with a ‘life and times’ of the later Roman Empire. He splits the book (roughly) into three parts.
...continue to the review of The Roman Emperor Aurelian by John F. White