• Viggen

    Weighing in at 310 pages (including two appendices), this medium-sized book is an encyclopedia-in-brief of the backgrounds (social, historical, theological) of the books, writers and editors of the New Testament, with basic section-by-section summaries, with comments, of each book. The maps and charts are marvels of concision and completeness: typical of all the charts is the four-page chronology of Roman emperors, Jewish and Roman leaders in Israel, and relevant events (pp. xix to xxii) from 6 BC to 138 AD, which gives a book’s worth of information in a small space...


    ...continue to the review of An Introduction to the New Testament by Raymond Brown

    It seems obvious to modern perspectives that at the height of the Roman Empire anyone living within the bounds of the Empire was ‘Roman’. However, it is also obvious that on the boundaries the degree to which the inhabitants accepted their ‘Romanness’ is open to interpretation. Even more crucially, as the Empire decayed there arises the question of how later citizens viewed themselves, especially in those regions which came under the control of the ‘Barbarian Successor States’. In ‘Staying Roman’, Conant has attempted to answer the question of how the inhabitants of the region reacted to these violent changes, especially with regard to the political and religious changes to which they were subjected...
    ...continue to the review of Staying Roman: Conquest and Identity in Africa and the Mediterranean by Jonathan Conant
    Christopher Matthew’s An Invincible Beast is a remarkable piece of military history. It is a comprehensive study of the Macedonian pike-phalanx, describing its origins, logistics, uses in battle, as well as its influence in the ancient world.
    A trained classicist, Matthew felt that even though the pike-phalanx was the dominant military formation for two centuries, being used by Alexander the Great himself in his campaigns, serious study of it has been neglected by historians. Thus, he wrote An Invincible Beast to remind readers of the importance of the pike-phalanx, and to banish the many myths that exist about it...
    ...continue to the review of An Invincible Beast: Understanding the Hellenistic Pike Phalanx in Action by Christopher Matthew
    If one is fortunate enough to actually live and work in one of the most famous cities of the world, what does one do when not hunched over a desk or negotiating Rome’s notoriously bad traffic? Mott LL Groom was one such lucky individual who lived in Rome for not one or five or ten years but a whopping twelve! A history major and Romanophile from an early age, Mott immediately set about pursuing his passion and wandering the ancient streets in his quest for all things Roman. Like a typical tourist Mott initially followed the well-established tour routes, but it wasn’t long before his chronologically-oriented mind began to rebel against the standard tourist tours. As Mott’s disenchantment grew, he decided to develop his own more logical tour...
    ...continue to the full review of A Walk With the Emperors: A Historic and Literary Tour of Ancient Rome by Mott LL Groom

    By Viggen, in News,

    Second part in our emperor series on Elagabalus` life. We know very little for certain about Elagabalus while he was emperor. There are two reasons for this. The first is that all palace politics are generally obscure, but when imperial policy is being made by women in an society deeply suspicious of women in politics, these women must necessarily work well behind the scenes. (Though the Julias did force through a decree allowing them to attend meetings of the senate.) Elagabalus himself had little interest in the minutiae of government and had little personal effect on the empire as a whole. In matters of imperial administration 'he was completely under the control of his mother', according to the historian Herodian...
    ...continue to Elagabalus the Emperor
    Any biography of Vipsanius Agrippa has a huge obstacle to overcome, and that obstacle can be summarized in one word – Augustus. On the written page, just as in the reality, the life and deeds of Augustus tend to crowd Agrippa on to the sidelines. So closely were the fortunes of Agrippa tied to those of Augustus that any biography of Agrippa risks becoming merely another biography of Augustus, albeit written from a slightly different perspective.
    Thus, for all practical purposes, the life of Agrippa began when he met Augustus (then Octavius), for virtually nothing is known of Agrippa before then. Thenceforth for most of the next decade, we only hear of Agrippa because he was at Augustus' right hand when something interesting happened...
    ...continue to the review of Marcus Agrippa: Right-Hand Man of Caesar Augustus by Lindsay Powell
    One of the major processes in the upsurge of interest in Late Antiquity is the translation of hard-to-access sources that are known only to specialists. One of the players in this process is Routledge’s Classical Translations Series. The latest in the series is this translation of the fragments of Peter the Patrician. Although little is known of Peter, he was a person of some importance, acting as a diplomat on behalf of the Eastern Empire and also serving as magister officiorum (Master of the Offices) and receiving the honorary title of patricius, hence the title of this book...
    ...continue to the review of The Lost History of Peter the Patrician by Thomas M. Banchich
    We won’t ever see the glorious structures of Palmyra again. ISIL/Daesh destroyed the Temple of Bel, the Temple of Baalshamin and the Arch of Triumph in 2015, and beheaded the elderly head of antiquities, Khaled al-Assaad. Thank whichever god you serve for the photographs, the museums that hold ancient reliefs and inscriptions, and books such as Smith’s Roman Palmyra. The outrages of 2015 came after Smith had completed his work on the community that thrived in the Syrian desert, located at an oasis on the frontier between Rome and Parthia. Therefore it stands as a monument in its own right to a rich period (the first three centuries AD) that saw the pastoral settlement develop into an important trading city with influence throughout the Roman empire....
    ...continue to the review of Roman Palmyra: Identity, Community, and State Formation by Andrew M. Smith II
    What does the Roman Republic mean to you? A few might admit they've never heard of it. For others it's merely a long period of ancient history before the Romans invented orgies and interesting tyrants. Yet it appears that the system of government adopted by the Romans between the rejection of monarchy and the acceptance of autocracy is something very inspiring to some of us. Time and again writers refer to the Roman world seeking some sort of guidance for their own goals and motives, something I find somewhat ironic because Roman Republicanism was never set in stone. Instead it was cast in bronze, malleable, demanding continual polishing, and ultimately good for material when the original vessel was no longer holding water....
    ...continue to the review of The Life of Roman Republicanism by Joy Connolly
    Interview by Ian Hughes
    Ian Hughes for UNRV: Today we have the distinct pleasure to interview noted author and historian Professor Jonathan Harris about his latest book The Lost World of Byzantium.
    UNRV: The first question to ask concerns your research interests. On the Royal Holloway website it states that these lie in “Byzantine History 900-1460; relations between Byzantium and the west, especially during the Crusades and the Italian Renaissance; the Greek diaspora after 1453”. What made you focus on the Byzantine Empire rather than on the Crusades which appear to have remained far more popular amongst Western historians?
    ...continue to the Interview with Jonathan Harris on The Lost World of Byzantium
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