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Viggen

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  1. Viggen

    Galbas Men by L.J. Trafford

    Book Review by Thomas A. Timmes L.J. Trafford is a polished storyteller who quickly immerses the reader into the little explored world of common Roman slaves who executed the day-to-day tasks of managing the emperor’s palace. Galba’s Men, published in 2016, is the second book in Trafford’s four-book series, The Four Emperors. Galba’s Men is preceded by Palatine and is followed by Otho’s Regret and Vitellius’ Feast. The inglorious death of Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (his imperial title) at age 30 in 68 A.D. instigated by his own Praetorian prefect, Nymphidius Sabinus, introduced a short period of civil war into Roman history. This upheaval lasted only a year but witnessed four separate individuals accede to the Roman throne. The story of Galba’s Men is told from the palace slaves’ unique point of view from Galba’s arrival in Rome from Spain, and his short occupancy as Emperor, the pinnacle of Roman power. My personal reading preference is historical fiction that includes plenty of battlefield action with a credible, supportive fictional story. Besides entertainment, I want to learn Roman history. Palace intrigues, misbehaving Emperors, and Roman excesses leave me cold, but everyone is entitled to their own likes and dislikes, which is why we are privileged to have a wide variety of authors and stories from which to choose. That said, Galba’s Men is my first adventure away from Rome’s Republican Period and into the Roman era of the Empire. I felt it was time to broaden my scope, and this seemed the perfect place to start. Trafford’s book is built around a host of interesting characters and is a truly fascinating story. I was pleasantly surprised that a book about Rome without Gauls or Hannibal could be so interesting! Trafford breathes life into her characters and describes the many hallways and rooms with perfect clarity. As I turned the pages, I could envision the entire scene and felt like I was there and part of the action. When I finally closed the book, I discovered that I really miss a couple of the characters and hope to find them again in books three and four. Right off the bat, Trafford lists thirty-one characters that we can expect to meet in the book, seven of whom are actual historical figures. My short memory span required constant flipping back to this invaluable resource to reacquaint myself with the various personalities. In the beginning, it proved to be a bit tedious, but I eventually mastered most of the names. And though it slowed my reading initially, it wasn’t a major annoyance. Without counting, I would guess that over half the characters in the book, to include Emperor Galba, were gay and may misrepresent the number of gays in Rome at the time. While there is nothing erotic about Galba’s Men I was surprised at the numerous references to consensual and non-consensual sex. I learned that being a slave anywhere would be a most dreadful life and that babies of slave mothers were taken from their mothers at birth and raised by the State to develop generations of faithful palace slaves. Despite the many shortcomings of Rome compared to our modern world, there were good and evil men who ran the Roman Empire. If you are looking for an easy but lengthy fictional read (430 pages) that provides a rarely seen side of ancient Rome, this is the book. On many levels, Galba’s Men made a deep impression that will stay with me for years. ...more Book Reviews! Crocodile Legion - A Roman Adventure by SJA Turney Release Your Inner Roman by Jerry Toner AD69 : The Year of four Emperors by Gwyn Morgan After gaining a degree in Ancient History LJ Trafford toured the amphitheatres of western europe before a collision with a moped in Rome left her with a mortal terror of crossing Roman roads.Returning to the UK somewhat battered and impressively bruised she spent several years working as a tour guide. This proved a perfect introduction to writing, involving as it did, the need for entertainment and a hefty amount of invention (it’s how she got tips). She now works in London doing something whizzy with computers. She is the author of The Four Emperors series which covers the tumultuous year that followed the fall of the flamboyant Nero. Thomas A. Timmes, a 28 year active duty veteran of the U.S. Army, holds the Bronze Star for Valor and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for combat in Vietnam. He served with the 3rd and 8th Mechanized Infantry Divisions in Germany during the Cold War as an Infantry Platoon Leader, Company Commander, and Battalion and Brigade Operations Officer. Tom has extensive experience with Military Psychological Operations as a Team Leader, an Executive Officer, and Battalion Commander of an airborne unit. Tom also served on the Department of the Army Staff and the Joint Staff in the Pentagon. Thomas A. Timmes is the author of the Legio XVII series. His fourth book, Legio XVII: The Eagle Strikes, was released in July 2016. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of Galbas Men by L.J. Trafford - Related Topic: Year of the Four Emperors Bibliography Get it now! Galba’s Men for the UK ________________________________ Archive
  2. great stuff, thanks
  3. Viggen

    Galbas Men by L.J. Trafford

    L.J. Trafford is a polished storyteller who quickly immerses the reader into the little explored world of common Roman slaves who executed the day-to-day tasks of managing the emperor’s palace. Galba’s Men, published in 2016, is the second book in Trafford’s four-book series, The Four Emperors. Galba’s Men is preceded by Palatine and is followed by Otho’s Regret and Vitellius’ Feast. The inglorious death of Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (his imperial title) at age 30 in 68 A.D. instigated by his own Praetorian prefect, Nymphidius Sabinus, introduced a short period of civil war into Roman history. This upheaval lasted only a year but witnessed four separate individuals accede to the Roman throne. The story of Galba’s Men is told from the palace slaves’ unique point of view from Galba’s arrival in Rome from Spain, and his short occupancy as Emperor, the pinnacle of Roman power... ...continue to the full review of Galbas Men by L.J. Trafford
  4. Thesis submitted to the Tenneesee State University for the Degree of Masters of Arts by Victor Clark ...thanks to Victor Clark, i can publish here his (especially for numismatists) interesting work, it starts of with the Introduction, over the course of the next couple of weeks, i will add all pages of his work. Feel free to discuss... In Italy during the fourteenth century some men began to study ancient Roman coins. This should not be a surprise though, as it was the Renaissance, and there was a great interest in the classical past. The humanist Petrarch was the most famous of these early numismatists. Petrarch said in a letter that often people would approach him with a request to identify a newly discovered ancient coin. “Often there came to me in Rome a vinedigger, holding in his hands an ancient jewel or a golden Latin coin, sometimes scratched by the hard edge of a hoe, urging me either to buy it or to identify the heroic faces inscribed on them... ...continue to Constantine the Great: The Coins Speak
  5. Viggen

    Roman brains

    ...an interesting overview of history of neuroscience, http://www.princeton.edu/~cggross/Hist_Neurosci_Ency_neurosci.pdf
  6. The book “Julius Caesar’s Disease: A New Diagnosis” is an interesting examination of Caesar’s health. The emphasis of this book is a reassessment of Caesar’s alleged epilepsy. In the preface of the book the authors state, “Discussing health conditions and illnesses of famous characters from a bygone age may indeed be considered a daunting prospect and the advantages stemming from it could be questioned.” The authors are certainly qualified to meet the challenge. Both have studied classical history and both are medically qualified to investigate Caesar’s health... ...continue to the review of Julius Caesar's Disease: A New Diagnosis by Galassi and Ashrafian
  7. The book “Julius Caesar’s Disease: A New Diagnosis” is an interesting examination of Caesar’s health. The emphasis of this book is a reassessment of Caesar’s alleged epilepsy. In the preface of the book the authors state, “Discussing health conditions and illnesses of famous characters from a bygone age may indeed be considered a daunting prospect and the advantages stemming from it could be questioned.” The authors are certainly qualified to meet the challenge. Both have studied classical history and both are medically qualified to investigate Caesar’s health... ...continue to the review of Julius Caesar's Disease: A New Diagnosis by Galassi and Ashrafian
  8. Book Review by Guy S. The book “Julius Caesar’s Disease: A New Diagnosis” is an interesting examination of Caesar’s health. The emphasis of this book is a reassessment of Caesar’s alleged epilepsy. In the preface of the book the authors state, “Discussing health conditions and illnesses of famous characters from a bygone age may indeed be considered a daunting prospect and the advantages stemming from it could be questioned.” The authors are certainly qualified to meet the challenge. Both have studied classical history and both are medically qualified to investigate Caesar’s health. Francesco Galassi is a paleopathologist with an interest in diseases of the Ancient World. Hutan Ashrafian is a surgeon and respected Egyptologist. These authors combine both their medical knowledge with their classical scholarship to challenge Caesar’s long-accepted diagnosis of epilepsy. Plutarch wrote (more than a century after Caesar’s death) the following description of Julius Caesar: "[Caesar] was of spare habit, had a soft and white skin, suffered from distemper in the head, and was subject to epileptic fits, a trouble which first attacked him, we are told, in Corduba." The authors discuss this quote by Plutarch as well as several other historical descriptions of Caesar and his health. They do not, however, accept the diagnosis of “epileptic fits.” The authors discuss this quote by Plutarch as well as several other historical descriptions of Caesar and his health. They do not, however, accept the diagnosis of “epileptic fits.” The authors examine the historical context of the information about Caesar’s medical health. They also take into account Caesar’s family history of sudden and unexpected death. With this background of research, they use their modern medical knowledge to present an extensive differential diagnosis for Caesar’s “distemper in the head.” Galassi and Ashrafian explore extensively the possible etiology of Caesar’s illness. Some of the potential origins discussed for Caesar’s health problems include primary epilepsy as well as other causes of secondary seizures: head trauma, syphilis, neurocystercosis, granulomatous infection, and even a brain tumor. Using their medical knowledge and expertise, they examine the several possible reasons for Caesar’s poor health, hoping to explain his many symptoms which included “faints, dizziness, psychomotor changes, headache, nightmares, choleric outbursts, etc.” They conclude that the reasons previously attributed to his poor health are less likely than their recently proposed diagnosis—cerebrovascular disease complicated by transient ischemic attacks or TIAs (commonly called ministrokes). The authors explain that “TIAs occur when arteries of the cerebral circulation become occluded, thus oxygen delivery to neurons is suspended, resulting in focal neurologic deficits. Unlike [a] stroke, however, TIAs resolve more rapidly (from minutes to a maximum 24 hours) and leave less severe consequences.” They conclude that it was these TIAs (and not primary epilepsy or some other pathology) that caused Caesar’s “distemper in the head” and “epileptic fits.” These TIAs would explain Caesar’s temporary bouts of illness with its later onset and extensive symptomatology. The authors propose that TIAs would explain the following features of Caesar’s medical history. They state, “Having discarded most of the theories, we are left with one which, more logically and in a simpler way than others, would explain: a. [Caesar’s] familial background highly suggestive of cardiovascular / cerebrovascular disease (heart attack, lethal stroke); b. all of his symptoms including the mood and personality changes of his late [life] and their milder presentation; c. the absence of clear descriptions of typical epileptic attacks; d. the confusion with epilepsy given a certain resemblance of symptoms, especially falls/fits.” So why has the epileptic theory been successful? The authors offer this conclusion from an earlier neurological article they had written: “Caesar and his son Octavius may have contributed to the diagnosis of epilepsy, as this was considered a 'sacred disease' so that they would have better published this disorder to better fit with Caesar’s public profile.” It is, therefore, possible that Caesar and later Octavius turned Caesar’s history of TIAs with its debilitating effects from a potential political liability into a political advantage by associating his symptoms to epilepsy. Many might consider Caesar’s health not worthy of further study. Obviously, there is no opportunity to examine Caesar’s corpse since his body was probably burned. (This was reported by Suetonius and was part of Ancient Roman tradition.) This study can, nevertheless, lead to an interesting review of the many historical sources concerning Caesar's life. Although this book may appear to have a narrow focus (Caesar’s health), I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in Julius Caesar or to anyone with a background in medicine with an interest in Ancient Rome. ...more Book Reviews! Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome by Adkins Divination and Human Nature by Peter T. Struck Gladiators & Beasthunts by Christopher Epplett Francesco Maria Galassi, MD, is a paleopathologist at Zurich University’s Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, where he serves as Assistant and Principal Investigator of the Italian Paleopathology Project. He graduated from the University of Bologna and has collected research experiences at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. Besides studying osteological remains and mummies, he specialises in the analysis of ancient texts in order to identify the historical presentation and evolution of diseases throughout history. Amongst his most acclaimed studies, the causes of death of Alaric I and Giovanni Boccaccio. Aged only 27, Francesco Galassi is one of the youngest palaeopathologists in the world and already an expert in the field of palaeomedicine. Francesco’s studies have received worldwide attention in quality papers such Forbes Magazine, The Guardian, The Telegraph and he regularly features in the press and radio-TV programs as commentator of paleopathological research. Hutan Ashrafian, BSc Hons, MBBS, MBA, PhD, MRCS is a surgeon, historian, systems biologist, biostatistician, paleopathologist and philosopher. He is currently lecturer in surgery at Imperial College London and surgeon registrar at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London. His historical and paleopathological work spans the era of Alexander the Great and the classical world, epistemology and the earliest world literature from the Ancient Near East, art and science in the renaissance focusing on the work of Leonardo da Vinci. As an Egyptologist, he has offered the first pathological analysis of the Great Sphinx and his analysis of the death of Tutankhamun was featured in documentaries on the BBC and the Smithsonian Channel. He is the founding president of the Institute of Polymaths. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of Julius Caesar’s Disease: A New Diagnosis - Related Topic: Octavian Bibliography Get it now! Julius Caesars Disease for the UK ________________________________ Archive
  9. ...thanks guy! For the review and the interview questions!
  10. ...i wonder how the coin ended up at the "end of the world".... http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-40606908
  11. Viggen

    Roman Sex: 100 BC - AD 250 by John Clarke

    ...this review has now been updated to the new layout!
  12. Viggen

    Roman Sex by John Clarke

    Book Review by Ursus "The single most startling conclusion that I came to after studying sexuality in the Roman world is that the Romans were not at all like us in their attitudes toward sex." So writes John R. Clarke in his very visual survey of Roman sexual attitudes and practices from the late Republic to the early Roman Empire. Clarke points out that many of our modern assumptions about sexuality only developed in the last century or two. They are the product of the social sciences and humanities trying to grapple with the subject of sexuality, a subject not easily discussed in Judeo-Christian Europe. When we use recently invented terms like "heterosexual" or "homosexual" we must realize they would have little meaning to the Romans. What then did the Romans believe about sexuality? That is a fairly loaded question as Roman society evolved considerably over time. The early Republic was noted for its austerity. An obsession with sex was considered unhealthy, and Julius Caesar was derided by social conservatives for his legendary promiscuity with both genders. Later Christian society would place human sexuality in a dim light. Sandwiched between the two eras was the early empire, and it is here that Clarke conducts his survey. Thus readers have to keep in mind that while Clarke`s conclusions about Romans sexuality may be true for this era, they may not be true for earlier and certainly later epochs. Clarke uses the visual artifacts from Pompeii to fuel his study. This is appropriate. The graphic nature of these artifacts prompted a German archaeologist by the name of Muller to find a new word for visual displays of sexuality. After looking in a Greek dictionary, he discovered pornographein - "to write about prostitutes." Thus the word "pornography" entered the Western vocabulary. In the town of Pompeii, thoughtfully left to us damaged but intact by the fury of a nearby Volcano, we find visual evidence of Roman sexuality everywhere. Upper class Roman houses are filled with frescos and artwork depicting people unabashedly engaged in sexual theatrics. Gardens are filled with statues of fertility gods with giant phalluses. Lower class taverns and bordellos possess their own distinct and frank explorations of Romans sexuality. Everywhere in town talismans and amulets of phalluses are erected (no pun intended) to ward off evil spirits. The ubiquitous nature of sexuality shocked the archaeologists who first discovered it. How could Romans be so frank about sex, leaving these obscene items around where even children could see them? How could Roman women be so forthright about enjoying sex? And most disturbing of all, how could Romans engage in same-sex or group sex activities? The "pornography" of Pompeii has to be placed into the context of early imperial society. The wealth of Rome`s increasing empire has made some people very rich, and given rise to what social scientists call "conspicuous consumption". The well-to-do wanted to advertise their financial situation, and in imperial Pompeii having sexually explicit frescos in one`s house was considered a mark of luxury and refinement. That explains the wealth of displays. Even local plebian taverns tried to lend themselves an air of elegance with crude sexual frescoes. Imperial society also coincided with what can only be called a "feminist revolution". As many elite males were killed by war and politics in the Republican era, elite women came to inherit the family finances and run affairs on their own. Their new-found power and confidence spilled over into the sexual arena. The ideal of the docile and chaste woman of the Republican era took a heavy blow. We can see in the visual displays the phenomenon of women enjoying and seeking sexual pleasure as much as men. For all that is good about this book there is something uncomfortable about it. An origin outside of England isn't so hard to accept, but the native welsh names lend an almost alien quality, and in fact the publishers of Chris Barber's previous book on this theme had asked him to anglicise names for that very reason. He was right to refuse, but the issue remains, made worse by the mismatch of latin and welsh names even between brothers. Perhaps more insidious is the love of mystery. As much as we are fascinated by the debate, how many will prefer the legend to the rather understated Welshman we are introduced to? One cannot help wondering how this man spawned the inflated romances of the Middle Ages, never mind our modern obsessions. As the Romans were a religious people, many came to see sexual ecstasy as a gift from Venus and Cupid, or cultic deities like Dionysus. Who could begrudge the gods their influence? The idea that phalluses and displays of fertility gods could ward off evil spirits also reached its height. Every street corner and doorway seems to have had a representation of a penis. Same-sex relations always existed in Rome among males. But there were certain taboos associated with it - the man of superior social rank had to take the superior sexual position. A man who became the submissive partner of a social inferior was derided. Some of these taboos seem to break down in early imperial society, judging by the visual evidence. Women, also, come to know same-sex relations, a phenomenon that no doubt coincided with the feminist revolution. Many Romans were scandalized, as women of the Republican era were expected to sleep with their husbands and no one else. Oral sex was considered a taboo for both genders. The Romans considered it unclean. Judging by the visual evidence of the artifacts at Pompei, this no doubt happened though, even if there were always some impurity attached to it. (Clarke quips about what the Romans would think of the Clinton-Lewinski scandal). Social conservatives preferred the tighter restrictions of human sexuality that were in effect during the early Republic. Augustus drafted legislation to discourage loosening sexual practices. However, he could not influence anyone outside of his own narrow circle of sycophants, and even there his influence had limits if we take his own daughter into account. ...more Book Reviews! Interview with John R. Clarke The Roman Family by S. Dixon The Erotic Poems by Ovid, P. Green Only the Christian society waiting in the winds would put a damper on Imperial Rome`s sexual theatrics. But even Christian society loosened its belt after a time. Clarke recounts how the artifacts of Pompeii were once off limits to most people. They were considered obscene Only after Europe experienced a "sexual revolution" in the last thirty years were women and the general public allowed to study the frescoes of Pompeii. Clarke tries to connect the West`s recent sexual revolution with the one that occurred in imperial Rome. But, he admits, he can`t - Roman society and its ideas of sex are simply incongruous with what we Moderns have been conditioned to believe, sexual revolution notwithstanding. The book itself is basically a visual feast of some very explicit art pieces. The writing is clear and erudite enough. I highly recommend this work. I have seen no other work that places Roman sexuality in such precise terms. Whether you agree with Roman sexuality or not, you will be better informed on the subject. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of Roman Sex: 100 BC - AD 250 by John Clarke - Related Topic: Roman Marriage Bibliography Get it now! Roman Sex for the UK ________________________________
  13. Viggen

    Roman Sex by John Clarke

    great review from Ursus!
  14. Viggen

    Roman Sex by John Clarke

    ...the most read review at UNRV and that by a margin!
  15. Viggen

    University dun dun dun..

    ...so, 9 years later, how did it go?
  16. Viggen

    The Late Roman Army by Pat Southern

    ...this review has now been updated to the new layout!
  17. The Late Roman Army The primary mission of this book is to give the reader a detailed and examined look at the Imperial Roman Army in Late Antiquity, roughly from the time of the 3rd Century Crisis to the fall of the Western Empire and into Justinian's reign in the East. Though being less than 200 pages long, the book gives the reader a sense of understanding on the army during the late Empire that few do. The entire book covers all aspects of the army from the sources that are used for the piece all the way to the Morale of the Army and shows the development from the old Imperial Army to one which imployed Limitani and Field Armies. The main primary sources used are Ammianus, Zosimus and Procopius and is supplamented with excellent secondary sources like A H M Jones and Ramsey MacMullen... ...read the full review of The Late Roman Army by Pat Southern and Karen R. Dixon thanks Neos Dionysos! cheers viggen
  18. To say that the stories of Arthur are enduring and popular is an understatement. Second only to Jesus as the Once and Future King, he has become iconic in english culture, and so potent was Arthurian mythos that had the elder son of Henry VII survived, he would have been crowned Arthur II. Chris Barber's King Arthur - A Mystery Unravelled, is another attempt to identify the man behind more than a thousand years of storytelling.... ...continue to the review of King Arthur: The Mystery Unravelled by Chris Barber
  19. Book Review by Mark Ollard To say that the stories of Arthur are enduring and popular is an understatement. Second only to Jesus as the Once and Future King, he has become iconic in english culture, and so potent was Arthurian mythos that had the elder son of Henry VII survived, he would have been crowned Arthur II. Most of us understand that Arthur's realm is no more real than Tolkein's Middle Earth, or that medieval knights in shining armour are ridiculously anachronistic in that dark age between the Roman provinces of Britannia and Anglo-Saxon Britain. One writer complained that no-one else has generated so much pointless literature. Another muses that to research Arthur is to study the history of the myth of the legend. Nonetheless people often exhibit an alarming need to find truth in stories. You need only see the hold conspiracy theories have over modern society. Chris Barber's King Arthur - A Mystery Unravelled, is another attempt to identify the man behind more than a thousand years of storytelling. The traditional connection to England is discarded and a trail of evidence is produced to show he was from Wales. This isn't the first work to support that theme, which must be said does often come across as more convincing than the usual attempts at identifying places and events. The book doesn't wait for the end of the book to conclude who Arthur was. In the very first chapter the author lists the various documented Arthur's relevant to the mythology and pulls his choice from the mix. Why this man? Well, there's another twenty chapters to expain that for us. If that sounds as if the reader should expect a detailed and convoluted argument, the reader will not be disappointed. Unravelling any coherent argument for a real Arthur requires one to wade through obscure source material, much of it unknown to the average person. Next we arrive at the door of Geoffery of Monmouth, the medieval cleric derided by his contemporaries for his outrageous writing and the man generally credited with recreating Arthur as a king of England. This is in some ways a bold step in Barber's narrative given how Geoffery was writing far more of a fantasy than history, but the important message is that Geoffery used material with far better provenance than his own, and this is a springboard to discuss the relevance of a swathe of older documents. The author spends two chapters placing Arthur in context, describing his family and relationships with better known individuals from history. Compiled from thirty years of work the information is delivered wholesale, and although broken down into themed sections, it does require some patience to finish it. We move on to subjects in following chapters concerning the misleading red herrings of Arthurian mythos, the realm that Arthur actually lived in, and significantly discusses exactly who the enemies were that Arthur fought against. The various battles said to have been won by Arthur are discussed with the same level of deliberation and research. The majority are just as difficult to place on the map as for any other writer who tries but Barber makes a fair shot of it. That last battle, Camlann, where Arthur receives his mortal wounds and abdicates gets a chapter of its own, and of course the infamous Battle of Badon Hill - the victory that supposedly secured decades of peace, also gets a chapter. Better yet, there's another chapter that looks at Arthur's campaign in Gaul, and even compares these with the sweeping tales of Geoffery of Monmouth, who claimed Arthur fought campaigns on the Roman periphery, and once, for no other reason than there wasn't anyone left to fight, took on the Roman Empire itself. Of course the author is wise enough to see the exaggeration for himself, making this book as thorough as is practical. This unravelling of the puzzle is what the book is about. We have a hero of the Dark Age who is thought to have been a tribal warlord. Or a noble King. Or a Roman Count. Or Duke. Some have even credited Arthur as Emperor. Which piece fits? What picture emerges? Here we inadvertantly stumble on perhaps the book's biggest and most subtle issue. In science, the responsible way is to gather data and derive conclusions from your findings. This book reads more like the opposite, start with a conclusion and gather evidence to prove it, which in science has caused more wrong conclusions than anything else. Maybe this is unintentionally harsh - after all complete evidence is not possible, the source material fanciful and inconsistent, or even completely invented. What you will find is a book that is serious about the conclusion it describes. Patriotic or personal, the authors passion is obvious, but I note the absence of distractions which detract from objectivity, a very difficult accomplishment when discussing a legend. The style is sraightforward and the book has a number of colour photographs and illustations that are both contextual and conform to the atmosphere of the subject. For all that is good about this book there is something uncomfortable about it. An origin outside of England isn't so hard to accept, but the native welsh names lend an almost alien quality, and in fact the publishers of Chris Barber's previous book on this theme had asked him to anglicise names for that very reason. He was right to refuse, but the issue remains, made worse by the mismatch of latin and welsh names even between brothers. Perhaps more insidious is the love of mystery. As much as we are fascinated by the debate, how many will prefer the legend to the rather understated Welshman we are introduced to? One cannot help wondering how this man spawned the inflated romances of the Middle Ages, never mind our modern obsessions. ...more Book Reviews! The Second Jewish Revolt by Menahem Mor Remus : A Roman Myth by T. P. Wiseman Beginnings Of Rome by Tj Cornells Has Chris Barber won noble victory in his quest for the real Arthur? No, but he returns to Camelot with honour intact, and a book that for all its faults contains important messages for those delving into the darkness of early medieval Britain. This is a work of flawed excellence. Great for Dark Age information, insight, and debate - but Arthur? You'll have to decide that yourself. Chris Barber is a well-established author with thirty one books published to date. They cover such subjects as mountaineering, industrial archaeology, prehistoric standing stones, and the mysteries and legends of Wales. His skills as a photographer are widely acknowledged and his illustrated lectures are very popular. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and was awarded the MBE for ‘Services to the Community and Tourism’ in the 2008 New Year’s Honours list. His many interests and achievements have also been recognised by an entry in ‘Who’s Who in the World’. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of King Arthur: The Mystery Unravelled - Related Topic: Roman Emperor List Bibliography Get it now! King Arthur for the UK ________________________________ Archive
  20. Thanks @caldrail for this interesting review!
  21. To say that the stories of Arthur are enduring and popular is an understatement. Second only to Jesus as the Once and Future King, he has become iconic in english culture, and so potent was Arthurian mythos that had the elder son of Henry VII survived, he would have been crowned Arthur II. Chris Barber's King Arthur - A Mystery Unravelled, is another attempt to identify the man behind more than a thousand years of storytelling.... ...continue to the review of King Arthur: The Mystery Unravelled by Chris Barber
  22. Book Review by Germanicus AD69 : The Year of four Emperors, by Gwyn Morgan, reads like a commentary of Tacitus as a classical author as much as it does as a commentary of the events discussed. All the major events are covered, and for one not having read "The Histories", were depicted wonderfully, and often in the words of Tacitus himself. Morgan does go further than this however, by looking at the three sources that discuss the year in question with any detail, Suetonius, Plutarch and of course Tacitus. Dio is most often dismissed in Morgans account. Morgan makes the point that Tacitus is often misunderstood by modern scholars, who do not understand the rhetorical devices he uses, and that were expected at the time, this feeling runs through the whole book. It interested me to find out that the very fact that his Annals and History are both written in an Annal form, is not because he chose to, but was just the way it had to be done if one was writing a "History". Biography had a different form to be followed (ala Suetonius), as did so called "lesser" forms of literature. Some very interesting details are bought to light, particularly with regard to the demeanor of the various Armies fighting, mutinying and sacking throughout Italy at the time, and what (or who) lead them to their actions. The Praetorian Guard are given a similar treatment, with the suggestion that in the period they may not have been as fickle as some have thought. Some of the commanders serving under Vitellius, Otho, and before him Galba were adept at changing sides for profit and/or power, and Morgan illustrates his belief that more often than not in this period, mutiny occurred because the commander in charge desired it for political or financial reasons, but that it was Commanders, rather than the rank and file, who wanted to manipulate events. Also interesting was the negative view one gets of Paulinus (of Boudicca fame) as a second guessing, time wasting delayer when working under Otho, despite his mammoth reputation as a General at the time. Galba appears as the old, flea-bitten stick in the mud, Otho the jealous but ultimately self sacrificing plotter(he could have continued the war), Vitellius the hapless fool who fell into Emperorship and mistakenly thought he was up to the task, and Vespasian the careful, calculating slow and steady mover he was, they were spin doctors all. ...more Book Reviews! The Venus Throw by Steven Saylor Latin Via Ovid by Goldman and Nyenhuis There Is No Crime For Those Who have Christ by M. Gaddis Morgan for the most part does resist the temptation to make sweeping generalizations, and carefully weighs one authors account against another, and then combined with other factors such as inscriptions about the men involved and any potential author bias, puts forth his case strongly demonstrating clearly why and how he has reached his conclusions. While not what I would call an "edge of my seat" read, for anyone interested in the events of that fateful year, and for a resource gathering together often conflicting accounts of these events, I think it well worth reading. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of AD69 : The Year of four Emperors - Related Topic: Year of the Four Emperors Bibliography Get it now! The Year of four Emperors for the UK ________________________________
  23. Viggen

    AD69 : The Year of four Emperors by Gwyn Morgan

    ...this review has now been updated to the new layout!
  24. AD69 : The Year of four Emperors, by Gwyn Morgan, reads like a commentary of Tacitus as a classical author as much as it does as a commentary of the events discussed. All the major events are covered, and for one not having read "The Histories", were depicted wonderfully, and often in the words of Tacitus himself. Morgan does go further than this however, by looking at the three sources that discuss the year in question with any detail, Suetonius, Plutarch and of course Tacitus. Dio is most often dismissed in Morgans account... read the full review of AD69 : The Year of four Emperors by Gwyn Morgan regards viggen
  25. Book Review by Christina Szilagyi Mark Tedesco’s I am John, I am Paul gives life to a story about which little is known: who were the men to whom the Basilica of John and Paul are dedicated? The story is told as a memoir from John’s point of view, as the story of his life in the legions, how he came to his relationship with Paul, and how they came to practice Christianity. The style is conversational and straightforward, with notations about the Latin meanings as needed. These notations alternate between footnotes and parenthetical asides, the latter tending to draw the reader out of the story, but they are useful for one not versed in Roman history. The story begins with John’s childhood on a farm and his desire to become a soldier, then moves (too) quickly to his adulthood and time in the legions. There, John and Paul meet and become fast friends. They find themselves pitted against their commander, Terentianus, who is inept, at best, and is threatened by the two men’s competency and popularity within the legion. They are separated, John to Alexandria and Paul to Gaul and, eventually, Rome. John feels isolated in Alexandria, but eventually, via his devotion to Mithras, finds a way to be assigned to Rome. From Rome, he and Paul are assigned to fight in Germania with Constantine. Without giving away plot points, this is, eventually, how they come to be given a large house in Rome, which will later become the location of the basilica. The totality of the relationship between John and Paul is never made particularly clear; at one point, Paul is asked if they are “‘bound to one another in the way of the Greeks?’” to which he responds “‘The bond between us is greater than Greek or Roman.’” The reader is never explicitly told if they are lovers or friends, but in the end, it does not matter. This serves to make a point as they convert to the new religion: the nature of their relationship is never an issue as they are welcomed into the community, thus making indicating that such things were irrelevant in the early Christian community, and that they should be so in the modern. Throughout the text, Tedesco details some of the elements of legionary life: training, the elements of battle, the boredom of guard duty, and, particularly, the habits of the Mithraic Cult. Our narrator’s devotion to Mithras is reinforced throughout the book, offering an interesting point of opposition to his eventual conversion to Christianity. Both John and Paul begin as devotees of Mithras, but Paul often comes across as being Christian before he knows what Christianity is. At one point early in the story, he gives his entire pay to a fellow legionary who is in need, not being concerned with his own needs. He often expresses a desire to help those around them who are lacking, and so when he is introduced to the idea of fellowship in Christianity, exemplified by a charity house being run by local Christians in Rome, he is immediately attracted to it. Both men learn about the religion from a friend of John’s sister and from their slave, but while Paul begins to embrace it, John becomes distant and angry with his friend, seemingly jealous of Paul’s devotion and fearful of breaking their dedication to Mithras. This is another point where the author moves far too quickly, telling, rather than showing his reader about these events; however, his point about how Christianity could break relationships in its early years is well made. The men do not become Christian until nearly the end of the book, and the subsequent years they spend as leaders in their local Christian community are glossed over. Within these years, the death of Constantine and the subsequent upheaval at the hands of his three sons and successors is mentioned, but is only relevant in the context of how it brings Julian to the throne. There are two villains in this book: the first is Terentianus and the second is Julian. While the former has a personal hatred for John and Paul, the latter is portrayed as hating all Christians, and thereby hating all they (and John and Paul) stand for. The two men together create the situation that leads to John and Paul being martyred, which makes them less villains and more enactors of God’s will. After all, without Judas, there is no Good Friday, and without Good Friday, there can be no Easter and no Christianity. The same is true of these villains: without them, the Basilica of John and Paul is never built, and this story is never told. Overall, the book is reminiscent of Lloyd Douglas’ The Robe or Henryk Sienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis, books whose intent is reinforce the faith of the reader or to inspire readers to become Christian. While I cannot comment on its effectiveness in this, I can say it was an interesting read. ...more Book Reviews! Rubicon, The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland Ghosts of Vesuvius by Charles R. Pellegrino The Venus Throw by Steven Saylor Mark Tedesco is a published author and history teacher in Los Angeles. He was born in California but lived for many years in Europe. There he developed a unique perspective which is apparent in his teaching and writing. Besides writing, Mark's passions run the gamut from archeology to sports and fitness. His colleagues consider to him to be somewhat of a Renaissance man. He enjoys imparting to his students his thirst for life and happiness. This thirst, or quest, is apparent in every work Mark devotes himself to. After eight years of research, Mark's work of historical fiction draws the reader into an experience of Ancient Rome. "I am John, I am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome." The mysterious bond between the two soldiers is intertwined with the historical events of the 4th century. Tell us your opinion - Submit your Review - Buy the book! Book Review of I am John I am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome - Related Topic: Roman Religion Bibliography Get it now! I am John I am Paul for the UK ________________________________ Archive
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