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  1. 1 point
    Book Review by Martin Holmes This book, awarded the 2008 Lakedaimonian Prize of the Academy of Athens, is political and military history at its best. In an era where the Spartans are idealised in popular culture through films such as 300 (2006) and 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) and, in contrast, are often dismissed or even derided by many classical scholars of the ‘Spartan mirage’ variety, Miltiadis Michalopoulos has provided a history of Sparta that is balanced, well researched, and fascinating. He takes as his subject neither the rise of Sparta nor its heyday. Indeed, at first glance its subtitle is liable to confuse: “the Rise and Fall of the Spartan Revolutionary Movement.” What movement? What revolution? In popular culture and in academia the Spartans are frequently portrayed as conservatives and traditionalists – rather dim ones, at that. Secluded in the southern part of the Peloponnese, perpetuating a centuries-old social system based on the teachings of Lykourgos that was foreign to the rest of Greece, and fiercely resistant to luxury, intellectual life, and cultural innovation, the Spartans make for unlikely revolutionaries. A major reason, most classicists think, behind Sparta’s decay was its inability to change. Michalopoulos agrees with this conclusion. The Spartans were indeed too conservative, he argues. Encumbered with an enormous population of helot slaves, suffering a continual decline in the number of homoioi to guard them, and a xenophobia bordering on paranoia prevented Sparta from dominating Greece for any length of time. But whereas many classicists trace the end of Spartan power to the third century B.C. – either with the Battle of Leuctra or the Macedonian conquest of Greece – treating later events as mere footnotes, Michalopoulos disagrees. For him, Spartan history did not end in the third century B.C.; neither the Thebans nor Alexander the Great invaded and destroyed Sparta. The Spartans, like Sir Winston S. Churchill two millennia later, knew that decline is not defeat and that defeat is not final. Well into the expansionist days of the Roman Republic groups of Spartans conspired and warred to restore the city’s prestige. In the Name of Lykourgos is the story of these latter-day Spartans. Finding themselves in an age far removed from that of their forebears, one in which the big empires – Rome, Macedon, Ptolemaic Egypt – dwarfed the old city-states of mainland Greece, and with their city’s prestige shattered by military defeats and helot rebellions, these Spartans desperately fought to keep their city afloat. This book contrasts their desire to restore the ancient ways of Lykourgos with the innovative, often radical methods they employed. Their methods were drastic: Agis IV (r. 245-241 B.C.), to boost the city’s manpower, enacted widespread economic reforms. All debts were cancelled; land was redistributed. Foreigners could bear arms and fight alongside the homoioi. For a short while the city was vibrant and hopeful. Yet traditional Spartans were stunned and, after only four years, Agis was executed. A generation later Kleomenes III (r. 235-222 B.C.) enacted wider, more radical reforms. He knew he was putting himself in danger but, at the same time, blamed Spartan complacency for the city’s decline. He too cancelled debts, redistributed land, and opened the army to foreigners and ‘inferior’ groups. Marching alongside an expanded and enthusiastic army, and celebrated as a champion of the poor throughout the Peloponnese, Kleomenes fought the rival Achaean League for restoration of Sparta’s traditional territories. In only five years he brought much of the Peloponnese under his control, including Corinth and Argos, and seemed poised to control it all. Eventually, however, he was defeated and died in exile. A generation later another king, Nabis (r. 207-192 B.C.), made a last-ditch effort to restore Sparta to its former glory. Helots were freed and armed, walls (for the first time) were constructed to defend the city, a navy was built, and money – the bane of traditionalists – was issued to boost the economy. He too had dreams of expansion and he too faced defeat, in this case at the hands of Rome and its Greek allies. In 195 B.C. Sparta was sacked and, in a bloody campaign, most of its warriors, including the king, were slaughtered. An account of these events is itself a worthy achievement on Michalopoulos’s part. The Spartan Revolution, occurring when it did, has been largely overshadowed by the exploits of Rome and Macedon. Certainly, those with an interest in Sparta will enjoy the book. So will anyone with an interest in Greek history, whether professional or amateur. Military historians may find the battles fascinating, not only because they are not so well-known, but because Michalopoulos is meticulous in his descriptions, having visited on multiple occasions each battle location, and provides readers with appendixes detailing the geography and military roads of the Peloponnese. It is as political history, however, that his book truly shines. Agis, Kleomenes, and Nabis were every bit as fascinating as Pericles, Marcus Agrippa, and the Gracchi; the economic and political reforms were among the most radical in the ancient world. His account of the small city state desperately trying to reassert its independence amid a changing world is probably the best of its kind to appear in recent years. ...more Book Reviews! Great Battles of the Classical Greek World by Owen Rees Ancient Warfare Magazine Vol XI Issue 3 The Rise and Fall of the Seleukid Empire by J. Grainger In fact, though it is convention for a reviewer to find something to dislike, in this case it is impossible. The subject is significant; the research, considering it was the author’s first book, was done well. Although a translation, it is not clunky, and there are no obvious spelling or grammatical errors. Perhaps the use of ‘k’s rather than ‘c’s in the names might confuse some readers but, being a Greek, Michalopoulos is well within his rights to spell as he does. The only downside is that the author is by profession civil engineer rather than an academic and, as such, might be unfairly dismissed by specialists. Hopefully this does not happen. For, if this is the quality of his first book, one cannot wait (and indeed hope) to see him write another. Miltiadis Michalopoulos was born in 1960 into a family with strong military traditions which originates from Sparta. He graduated from the Polytechnic School of Athens in 1990 with a BSc in civil engineering and currently works in that profession. He has had a life-long interest in history, particularly military history, and is a prominent member of local war gaming circles. His study In the name of Lycurgus is the result of ten years of intensive research into all available sources and repeated visits to the sites of the battles described in the book. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of In the Name of Lykourgos: The Rise and fall of the Spartan Revolutionary Movement (243-146BC) - Related Topic: Roman Greek Bibliography Get it now! In the Name of Lykourgos for the UK ________________________________ Archive
  2. 1 point
    Review by Alistair Forrest Crossing the Rubicon, when warfare was about to supersede Roman politics, opens one of the most fascinating periods of Roman history with bloody battles fought in the Balkans, North Africa and Spain. I have been an addict since living at (what may have been) the site of Caesar’s last battle, Munda in Spain, and researching and writing my first novel around the momentous events of 49-44 BCE. I had to have this issue of Ancient Warfare and devoured it in one session, then revisited time and again for the fresh insights and superb battle maps and graphics. This time the memories of Sulla as Dictator were far more justified. Seán Hußmann, a young lecturer at the University of Bonn, writes an informed article revealing Caesar’s bias in omitting the political reasoning behind his action, in his Bellum Civile. The tensions continue to swell in a climate of threat and oppression, and Caesar continues his propaganda while loosening his sword in its scabbard. He is the Republic’s saviour, he tells his legion. No he is not, says Cicero. And the die, as Suetonius puts it, is cast. Now we come to the nitty gritty as you would expect from a publication of Ancient Warfare’s stature. Cicero had warned that Caesar was well prepared and capable, and so he proved to be when “doing what they least expect”. He forced Pompey’s hand, says regular contributor Murray Dahm, by force-marching south, capturing towns as he homed in on Brundisium, forcing Pompey’s evacuation to the Balkans. Instead of following, Caesar consolidated in Spain, Sicily and Sardinia. In 48 and having been declared Dictator, he crossed the Adriatic where Pompey had nine legions, a fleet and enormous wealth. That’s 45,000 men prepared and ready for Caesar’s 20,000 (under-strength legions and a shortage of transport). But true to form, Caesar moved fast. How he crossed and landed against these odds, took towns in Epirus (they submitted willingly) on his way to Dyrrachium, and then hooked up with Mark Antony’s veterans including much-needed cavalry. Pompey, boxed in by a smaller force, eventually broke through and “bested” Caesar’s men, says Dahm. There follows a detailed account of the Dyrrachium campaign by Paul McDonnell-Staff, with a detailed maps showing the siege lines and movements of the forces. That was a painful setback for Caesar but only the prelude to the memorable battle of Pharsalus. This is admirably covered by author Lyndsay Powell and supported by a superb centre-spread 3D graphic of the positions and line of attack. There are supporting maps of the phases of the battle and poetic commentary from Lucan’s Pharsalia. You know the story – Caesar’s clever tactics and Pompey’s uncharacteristic resignation, riding back to his camp where the victory feast had been laid out before hand, only to be left for Caesar’s astonished captains. Why did Pompey lose? There were significant differences in the armies and tactics and Caesar’s unpredictability coupled with his legions’ experience over the inexperience of Pompey’s superior numbers, are the chief reasons given by student Ben Angell. From here it’s back to the politics – Pompey was shackled to the corpse of a less-than-formidable senate. After this defeat, the senate that had been held together by Pompey “melted away” – Cato and Scipio to Africa while others either fled or surrendered. The next instalment can’t come soon enough – the assassination of Pompey on Egypt’s shores, the war in Africa and its culmination in Spain where Pompey’s sons and Titus Labienus were defeated by an inspired Caesar at Munda. There are further informative articles covering further reading, Roman cavalry and the art of the ambush – but by now you’ll be exhausted after that incredible battle brought back to life by Ancient Warfare. A subscription is highly recommended! ...more Reviews! Empire at War: A Compendium of Roman Battles by Don Taylor Great Battles of the Classical Greek World by Owen Rees The Roman Soldier by G. R. Watson Ancient Warfare is a unique publication focused exclusively on soldiers, battles, and tactics, all before 600 AD. Starting with ancient Egypt and Persia and continuing to the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Ancient Warfare examines the military history of cultures throughout Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa. Ancient Greece and Rome receive the most frequent coverage, due both to the wealth of contemporary sources and the modern fascination with these two great civilizations. Subject-matter ranges from the familiar to the more obscure: while Alexander the Great, the Persian Wars and Caesar’s Gallic campaigns all receive regular coverage, Ancient Warfare also looks at some of the less common parts of ancient military history, from chariots as battle taxis to PTSD in antiquity. Alistair Forrest decided to be a writer on the day his English teacher ticked him off in front of his classmates for being too descriptive in his essay on Macbeth. Forrest and his wife Lynda have five children between them. For six years they lived in the very same upland valley in Spain where Julius Caesar marched eight crack legions towards the town of Munda (now Monda) to fight the sons of Pompey who had arrayed 13 legions against him. It was to be the last, bloody battle in Caesar’s civil war, just a year before he was assassinated. Inspired by the eagles that hunt in the surrounding olive groves, Forrest began to write Libertas. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the magazine! Book Review of Ancient Warfare Magazine - Roman Against Roman – Caesar and Pompey in the Balkans - Related Topic: Caesar's Civil War Bibliography Get it now! Ancient Warfare for the UK ________________________________ Archive
  3. 1 point
    Book Review by Philip Matyszak The Rise of the Seleukid Empire ISBN-10: 1783030534 ISBN-13: 978-1783030538 The Seleukid Empire of Antiochus III ISBN-10: 178303050X ISBN-13: 978-1783030507 The Fall of the Seleukid Empire ISBN-10: 1783030305 ISBN-13: 978-1783030309 It is generally believed that the largest empire in antiquity was the Roman empire. However, this was actually smaller than the short-lived empire of Alexander the Great, which stretched from the shores of the Adriatic Sea to the foothills of the Himalayas. After the death of Alexander in 323 BC, his empire broke into several successor states, the largest of which was the Seleucid empire. Author and historian John D. Grainger tells the story of the Seleucid empire, and as is only fitting for an empire of this size, he tells it in not one but three books – The Rise of the Seleukid Empire, the Seleukid Empire of Antiochus III, and The Fall of the Seleukid Empire. Each of these books is some 250 pages long, and each can be read as a separate volume in its own right, though of course, doing so causes one to miss the entire grand sweep of the author's project. What the reader gets from the three books is a detailed knowledge of an empire all the more extraordinary for the fact that even some amateur historians do not know that it ever existed. Indeed, my own first experience of the Seleucid empire – and probably that of many non-historians – was in hearing strangely-named kings in bible readings from the Old Testament, for the Seleucid empire included Palestine and the rest of the Middle East. (Not an area which the average man in the street will think of as once having been ruled by Greeks.) The first book in the series shows how Seleucus managed to leverage himself from one of Alexander's lesser generals to ruler of the largest remnant of Alexander's kingdom. The author walks his readers carefully through the political quagmire of alliances, double-crosses, wars, mutinies and revolutions which followed Alexander's death – and in the process shows us what an extraordinarily unprincipled and ruthless bunch Alexander's generals actually were. We see how Seleucus started with Babylonia as his power base, and once he had gained his empire, the series of careful political and military steps he took to establish the empire's heartland in north Syria. At the end of the book, Seleucus was in the process of expanding his empire to include Macedonia. His abrupt assassination comes as something of a shock to the reader; a shock which diminishes as one reads on through the series and discovers that very few Seleucid kings died naturally – and in most of those cases it was disease which forestalled the assassin's knife. It is fitting that the second book is almost entirely dedicated to the career of Antiochus III, since the Seleucid empire started to unravel almost as soon as it founder died, and it was only the extraordinary energy and ability of Antiochus III that slowed this fragmentation. Only slowed it, because it was under Antiochus' watch that Asia Minor was lost to the empire - largely thanks to the power of Rome. Barely mentioned in the first book, Rome becomes ever more of a dominant force as the series goes by. The author makes a good argument that Rome was only briefly interested in the Seleucid empire, and that was in the years before the Magnesia campaign. In those years Antiochus was a threat to Rome's interests in Europe. Once Antiochus had been slapped back beyond the Taurus Mountains, Roman interest was at best peripheral, but such was Rome's power that it is nevertheless the defining political force in the third book. The third book is the hardest to read, because although by then Bactria had gone its own way, Iran and Babylonia were in Parthian hands and Asia Minor was an unruly set of feuding kingdoms, the situation in the remnant of the empire was chaotic enough to make lucid explanation challenging. 'Laodike, queen of the Samenians was replaced by Azizos the Arab chief. .. An alignment of Stratos with the Arabs and Antiochus X against Demetrios III and Philip I seems logical …'. This quote on p.178 sums up the problem with this text – there are too many Demetrii and Antiochi charging around, usually marrying people called Laodike or Kleopatra, and often both, either serially or together. Because there is not enough information in the sources to give any of these people a recognizable personality, after a while the names tend to blur together well before we reach Antiochus XIV. The author has made good use of his sources. Naturally for much of the time he is forced to rely on Appian, but his reading of this essential source is informed and critical and he does not hesitate to point out where other sources such as the Babylonian diaries, coin evidence (which he uses extremely well) or archaeology show that Appian was off the mark. ...more Book Reviews! Gods of Ancient Rome by R. Turcan The Oxford Classical Dictionary by Hornblower Remus : A Roman Myth by T. P. Wiseman Another reason why these books are much more than a mere re-telling of Appian (and this would still be a good series if that is all it was) is because the author gives an excellent analysis of the nature of the Seleucid kingdom and how it operated, why it was vulnerable, and how the very nature of the kingdom made it inevitable that the thing would fall apart in much the way that it did. If the book has a weakness it is that the author follows his ancient sources in focussing on the military campaigns (perhaps to be expected from a publisher called Pen & Sword). Nevertheless, the romance of a period rife with castles, elephants, dynastic feuds, royal incest and assassinations pirates and rebels of every sort is often lost in the dry minutiae of campaigns. The result is that a good read is sometimes lost to the demands of an excellent reference book. For this much is certain, at present these is no better set of books available to the general reader for the story of the Seleucid kingdom from beginning to end. Given that the nearest rivals are written in dense academic language and priced well out of the reach of the average amateur historian, the author and his publisher done readers a great service in bringing out this accessible and informative set of books. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of The Rise and Fall of the Seleukid Empire - Related Topic: Roman Syria Bibliography Get it now! The Fall of the Seleukid Empire for the UK ________________________________ Archive
  4. 1 point
    Book Review by Michael J. Mates Professor Peter T. Struck’s Divination and Human Nature takes the reader on a guided tour of ancient philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and the Neoplatonist Iamblichus) and their opinions regarding “natural” divination, as opposed to “technical” divination such as the reading of entrails, described as “the application of…logic to empirically gathered external signs” (p 16). The purpose of natural divination varies, but its nature remains strikingly similar among the philosophers examined: “the immediate apperception of something without the intervention of any reasoning process,” (p 20) knowledge which “arrives to us by ways other than self-conscious, goal-directed inferential chains of thought” (p 31), “an epiphenomenon of human anatomy and cognition (p 177), or, simply put, “intuition.” Very briefly, then, and using quotations only from the author to keep things short: Plato regards natural divination as “intuitive insight” (p 52), revealed to be true as a result of the Socratic method of cross-examination, in which, at its simplest level, an illiterate slave boy is coaxed to reveal the truths of geometry. Our perceptions of higher truths thus take place without any dependence on the “unstable and illusory character of…empirical data” (p 55), and “turn our minds toward the immaterial” (p 56). The soul also performs “divination through dreams” (p 82). Aristotle describes “foresight through dreams,” mediated not by god(s) but by the daimonic (my transliteration; see Note 2 below), who are “part of a realm of intermediate divinity beyond human control” (p 86). Sleep is a prerequisite, since defenses are down, and “movements of air” are thus able to produce “a palpable impression” in the sleeper, producing “a mental image that is inserted into the dream” (p 98). The weak-minded also benefit from the process; by contrast, “higher-order intellects occlude this lower-order information processing system” (p 104). For the materialist Stoics, who view the cosmos as “a single unified animal” (p 172), and for whom god is “an extraordinarily refined mist that permeates and suffuses inert matter” (p 172), all intuitions and inexplicable connections occur within a unified system, rather than between realms, as with Plato and Aristotle. Because the universe is predetermined (“Nothing happens that is causally undetermined from what came before” p 196),), and souls are physical bodies, divination for the Stoics is “a gradient and not a rupture” (p 196). Given the Stoics’ definition of time (“an infinitesimal present and a past and future that do not properly exist” p 203), and the material unity of the universe, it is no surprise that Stoic divination is often prediction. Struck concludes his generally chronological examination by illustrating divination according to the Neoplatonists (especially Iamblichus), whose oracles illustrate a new and “true divination, through assimilation to the divine, which yields sweeping knowledge of the philosophical underpinnings of the universe” (p 216). This identifies “true divination as a meditative exercise in which the divine and human mind are understood to make a connection” (p 243). Obviously, this is a turning point, which dematerializes divination, in contrast to previous thinking. To conclude, Struck takes us back in time, and out of philosophical discourse, to examine the role that divination plays in helping Penelope recognize her long-absent husband Odysseus at the end of the Odyssey. The divination is manifest as “hints, signs, and enigmas”—and even “kledonomancy, or divination by overheard words” (p 253). This is an extraordinarily erudite book, both wide-ranging and specific, and repays close attention by the reader. It is therefore all the more surprising that two prominent typographical errors involve “phenomena” (used with a singular verb on p 36: “The phenomena…embraces…”) and “phenomenon” (used as a plural on p 111: “…to analyze these phenomenon…”). Michael Mates earned his PhD in 1982 at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena CA, writing his dissertation on St. Patrick and the British Church. After seminary, he taught in Pakistan, and then worked as a U.S. diplomat with the Department of State, serving in Islamabad, Canberra, Karachi, Cluj (Romania), Columbia (District of) and Chisinau (Moldova), before retiring in 2011 to Monroe, Washington State, and starting a new career as co-landscaper at his hectare of gardens, lawns and forest, and brewer of black-fudge garden compost. ...more Book Reviews! Companion to Josephus by Chapman Debating the Saints Cult by M. Dal Santo The Mythology of Plants by A. Giesecke Note to 21st-century reader: It is crucial to note that Plato considered the immaterial to be realer than the empirical, in an exact reversal of most contemporary unconscious thinking about the nature of reality. For example, every table will decay and collapse, but the idea, or substance, of “tableness” lasts forever. Note 2: Throughout the book, Struck translates daimon as “demon,” which is likely to be confused by some with the Christian word for an evil spirit; in pre-Christian thought, daimones were spiritual beings, intermediate between men and the gods, and frequently the conveyers of intuition. Plato describes the daimoniov semeion (daimonic sign) as a “voice” and a warning, and thus “a kind of guardian angel” (p 68). The Greek word is the same in pre-Christian and Christian writings, but the usages are vastly different. Note 3: It helps to have some knowledge of Ancient Greek and Classical Latin, as Struck advances his argument passage-by-bilingual passage, and even word-by-word. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of Divination and Human Nature: A Cognitive History of Intuition in Classical Antiquity - Related Topic: Roman Mythology Bibliography Get it now! Divination for the UK ________________________________ Archive
  5. 1 point
    Book Review by Marc Ollard Imagine yourself entering the public seats of a Roman arena. Would you expect a days entertainment? Displays of martial courage? Would you become excited and spellbound by the spill of blood? Or stare horrified at the sight of men mauled and mangled by wild animals? All these emotions are attested to in the Roman sources. Today we're alternately appalled and fascinated by the subject, noting parallels with modern attitudes and behaviour, wondering whether the love of violent competition is really so alien to us. Then again, these days we're more concerned with our enviroment, the natural world, the decline of species. The Romans had no such qualms beyond their own profit and covenience. That they were denuding the wilderness of wildlife was not lost on them, but did it change their outlook, motivating them them to preserve rather than exploit? Perhaps that was where we part company with our Roman ancestors, for they never saw value in preservation. Welcome to Gladiators & Beast Hunts, a book by Dr Christopher Epplett. The first impression is largely helped by the books cover, showing mosiac imagery many will be familiar with. Presentation maintains the standards we have come to expect of the publisher and the colour photographs in the centre section are both relevant and illuminating. There have been any number of books published on these themes before, generally falling into one of a number of categories.You can find works that revel in the excitment and bloodlust in a sensationist view of arena combat. Others tend to focus on particular aspects of the sport. The author has indeed done this, and makes special reference to the venationes, the beast hunts, which he considers has not received due attention. Dr. Epplett rejects some aspects of Roman sport as irrelevant to this theme. Sports such chariot races, pancration, wrestling, and boxing are not detailed. One cannot help feeling that this is a literary microscope zooming in on the petrie dish of Roman entertainment. The reader is led by the hand into a gory world of contest and slsughter with a scientific detachment and there's no going back. If that sounds critical, don't be misled. The author's research is impressive, revealing insights from some of the most obscure documents. We're used to the common themes of the Roman arena. In this book, the author digs deeper, and opens our eyes to details of Roman society as a whole that are not immediately obvious. Gladiators & Beast Hunts follows a logical sequence, starting with the origins of funerary violence to the development of mass entertainment and the extraordinary set piece theatre of the Spectacle. We can read about the variations of event both in Rome and the empire at large, and better yet, the author has delved into what he can find about the personal angle, the sentiment expressed by those who watched and those who fought. There is a section devoted to to the infrastructure of the games, revealing hints of an entire lost world of logistical effort and negotiation. The process of obtaining animals for public shows is reconstructed from the initial capture through tranpsort to the temporary if sometimes long term placement in private zoos. Fascinating glimpses of Roman bureaucracy emerge as we discover evidence of job titles related to the keeping of animals. And yet, despite all this and the huge financial investment that beasthunsts incurred, there is a worrying background of wastage even before the animals reach the arena. There is no doubt that the Romans were capable of catching wild animals - the author uncovers a strong vein of military involvement in this activity - yet they were so often clumsy and ignorant of how an animal should be kept fit and healthy. For modern sensibilities the sorry tales of animals emaciated or dying in captivity evoke sympathy even before we consider the deliberate slaughter. Eventually the book reaches that inevitable theme of the demise of arena sports which accounts for nearly a quarter of the text. Many popular preconceptions are questioned in the light of evidence. Indeed, the whole concept of violent competition is shown to be not unique to the Roman world - merely their social emphasis and popularity. Dr Epplett discusses this without unnecessary attachment to our contemporary experience, though clearly one can see that the human love of violence, especially that incurred by others, has always been part of the human psyche if suppressed by social norms. One cannot help thinking this book should have been longer. At 170 pages, the impression left is more of a very detailed summary than a wide ranging discussion, which is odd considering that the author has gone to great lengths to evaluate the evidence left to us by the Romans. There is an intensity to his writing that results in this sort of brevity. ...more Book Reviews! Swords And Cinema by J. McCall Gladiator Manual by P. Matyszak Chariot Racing by Fik Meijer As a history of munera and venationes Christopher Epplet's book works well, and indeed, has a level of detail that is condensed into a handy volume. There is an impression that every recorded instance of a public event has been charted and considered for importance and relevance. Nonetheless the book does not dwell on every aspect of arena sports. You will learn almost nothing of the psychology of such fighting, limited coverage of social issues, architecture, and even descriptions of the established gladiator classes seem a little cursory. Should you buy this book? There are good reasons for doing so, with the understanding this will not be the only book about gladiators you will ever need. Dr Epplett comes agonisingly close to a palm leaf of victory but in the final analysis, he recieves a missio - with some well deserved applause. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of Gladiators & Beasthunts - Related Topic: Roman Gladiator Bibliography Get it now! Gladiators & Beasthunts for the UK ________________________________ Archive
  6. 1 point
    Book Review by Flavius Valerius Constantinus The Venus Throw is one of nine volumes in the Roma Sub Rosa series written by Steven Saylor. The exposition of The Venus Throw is set in mid-January 56 B.C. at mainly Rome. To those who know about it, that year was the year when Julius Caesar defeated the Veneti in the most decisive battle by naval action in the Battle of Gulf of Morbihan. Other events of the year 56 B.C. is tied nicely well into the novel. Our main character is a certain man named Gordianus the Finder. His service is sought for by many because of his great reputation. Through his reputation and dealings, he quite often is involved in the political fray. His wife is a half-Jewish slave named Bethesda, belonging to him, that he married in a previous book and the product of their marriage is a child called Diana (Gordiana). Other characters that make this book of great interest are the Clodii gens(mainly featuring Clodia and Clodius) , Marcus Caelius Rufus, Catullus the poet, Cicero, Cassius Dio, Belbo, Meto, and Trygonian the Cybelen priest. Characters with no appearance but yet tie greatly into the plot are Caesar, Pompey, senators, and many others. All these characters are of great intrigue that makes the novel a true mystery novel. The plot is really wonderful, it includes what every Romanophile would be interested in. The story starts out with two strange visitors to Rome in search of Gordianus. One is an ambassador, Dio, and the other Trygonian, an enauch priest. They come to ask Gordianus to help keep Dio alive, but Gordianus rejects because he knows that this request is impossible. Dio is murdered before the next day. But who would want to kill Dio and for what purpose? Thus, Gordianus ventures on a dangerous case that will involve politics, murder, scandals, poisoning, revenge, and sex. Can it get any better, certainly yes. There are two main intrigue in this novel. One is when someone trys to poison Clodia. Clodia then accuses her former lover Marcus Caelius Rufus of trying to poison her. It results in a trial, well you know how it ends, with the Pro Caelio speech of Marcus Tullius Cicero, Marcus Caelius Rufus is acquitted. The second is about Roman interests in Aegyptus, which plays a huge reason in why Dio is murdered. So how does these two intrigues connect? Well you just have to read it and find out. In terms of cultural and historal authenticity, it is portrayed really well. Everything that occurs in the plot is almost accurate that you can relate to Roman culture sensibly. Most interestingly about the book is the essence of a Roman family which the novel uses the family of Gordianus as a prime innovative example of the Roman household. But don't read into the Roman family stuff because the family of Gordianus can be easily compared to any other modern family. The reason why Saylor might not go into full detail about the Roman household is because that there may be too much complications with the other aspects of the story that has to be focused on. All in all, this book rates five senators out of five senators, according to the Ursus system. This book is highly recommendable if one wants a Roman novel that can compare to the HBO Rome series, with the exception of the promiscuous sex. Throughout the whole book, there has never been on dull moment thanks to the strong plotline that runs smoothly while interesting at the same time. Remember these aspects: politics, murder, scandals, poisoning, revenge, sex, and others found in The Venus Throw will make your time. ...more Book Reviews! The Lion's Brood by Rafael Scott Woman of Stone by Debra Tash Pompeii by Robert Harris Steven Saylor (born March 23, 1956) is an American author of historical novels. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied history and classics. Saylor's best-known work is his Roma Sub Rosa historical mystery series, set in ancient Rome. The novels' hero is a detective named Gordianus the Finder, active during the time of Sulla, Cicero, Julius Caesar, and Cleopatra. Outside this crime novel series, Saylor has also written two epic-length historical novels about the city of Rome, Roma and Empire. His work has been published in 21 languages. Saylor has also written two novels set in Texas. A Twist at the End, featuring O. Henry, is set in Austin in the 1880s and based on real-life serial murders and trials (the case of the so-called Servant Girl Annihilator). Have You Seen Dawn? is a contemporary thriller set in a fictional Texas town, Amethyst, based on Saylor's hometown, Goldthwaite, Texas. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of The Venus Throw: A Mystery of Ancient Rome - Related Topic: Venus Bibliography Get it now! The Venus Throw for the UK ________________________________ Archive