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Posts posted by Viggen

  1. 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

  2. Israeli archaeologists found the site of a fierce battle where the Roman army bombarded and breached the walls of Jerusalem before conquering the city and destroying the Second Temple almost 2,000 years ago, officials said Thursday. They said that the discovery, made last winter during an excavation of a construction site for the new campus of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design outside the Old City, also finally confirmed the description of the wall that was breached provided by the historian Josephus Flavius.  During the dig, the archaeologists found the remains of a tower surrounded by scores of stones and boulders fired by Roman catapults at the Jewish forces guarding the wall, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.  “This is a fascinating testimony of the intensive bombardment by the Roman army, led by Titus, on their way to conquering the city and destroying the Second Temple,” the statement said....


    ...via Times of Israel

  3. 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.


    In A Companion to Josephus, 29 scholars distill everything they know about Josephus into 30 dense articles, all of which are well fortified with background information and suggestions for further reading; two of them present 98 and 108 references! All of them support the consensus that his reputation has risen, and portray him as a skilled editor of sources; while he allows occasional obvious but not fatal discrepancies between accounts in different works, these are attributed to Josephus’s purposes, needs and biases. For instance, he “inserts God’s providence” into Jewish Antiquities where he does not mention it in parallel passages in Jewish Wars (p 51), and changes Saul’s demand for Philistine foreskins (I Samuel 18.25) into a demand for heads (p 53), to avoid offending his Gentile readers.


    ...continue to the review of A Companion to Josephus by Chapman and Rodgers

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. Between 43 and 410 AD, the Roman army created 2,000 miles (3,200km) of surfaced roads across the UK.

    Now a snapshot of this part of history has been discovered, in the form of a pristine section of Roman road dating back almost 2,000 years. The road was stumbled upon during building work in the centre of Rochester, and is now on display...


    ...via Daily Mail

  7. 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

  8. 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

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  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. The Roman Empire's Greatest Victories does not set out to challenge fondly held beliefs. It does not analyse deeply nor criticise aggressively. Instead it's a modest volume of less than two hundred pages seeking to remind us of battles that perhaps the Romans themselves would have us remember. Those battles that were, in the eyes of this author at least, among their greatest victories.

    He begins with Actium in 31BC and ends with Chalons in AD451, which basically covers a spread of history we normally refer to as Imperial Rome. These are the more significant battles, and the vast volume of patrols, raids, and skirmishes fought by Roman legions have not been considered...


    ...continue to the review of The Roman Empire's Greatest Victories by J W Medhurst

  12. Today we have the distinct pleasure to interview professional scholar, educator, public intellectual and journalist Waller R. Newell about his latest book Tyrants: A History of Power, Injustice, and Terror.


    ...continue to the interview with Waller R. Newell


    p.s. This is an amazing interview, i dont think we ever had an author that gave an interview with over 4.000 words. Thanks so much to caldrail for the fantastic questions and the author for the fantastic answers!

  13. One of the world’s oldest and most terrifying prisons, reserved for ancient Rome’s fiercest enemies, has reopened to the public after years of excavation that have revealed new clues about the very birth of the Eternal City itself.

    The Carcer Tullianum (Tullianum Prison in Latin) is notoriously known as the squalid underground dungeon where the Romans would lock up enemy leaders, including Simon Bar Giora, one of the architects of the Great Revolt of 66-70 C.E. Other honored inhabitants, according to medieval Christian tradition, were the apostles Peter and Paul.

    But the three-year excavation has shown that the structure, located between the bottom of the Capitoline hill and the entrance of the Forum, was much more than just a prison, and may in fact predate the founding of Rome itself.

    via Haaretz




  14. Since 1896 there have been twenty-eight consecutive modern summer Olympic Games — minus the war years of 1914, 1940, and 1944 — which is a notable achievement. That number, however, pales in comparison with the two hundred ninety-two Games held consecutively at Olympia, Greece between 776 BC and 395 AD. Judith Swaddling, Senior Curator of the Greek and Roman collection at the famous British Museum in London, has written a fascinating book describing the Ancient Games as they evolved through the years, and she draws numerous parallels between the ancient and modern Games. The number of similarities is striking including the less than noble issues of bribery, dishonest judges, and cheating...


    ...continue to the review of The Ancient Olympic Games: Third edition by Judith Swaddling

  15. In every walk of life you find experts. Sometimes it's one of those endless interviews the media delight in after an important event. Sometimes it's just a headstrong colleague with more opinion than commonsense. The issue is the same with regard to politics, always a subject to raise debates both rational and passionate. Loved or loathed, powerful individuals are always with us, always subjects for discussion or derision, and yet no-one seems to have a definitive view until, at some point, someone suggests that person is a tyrant, and the label begins to stick. Authority and tyranny are not seperable, but shades of grey, so where do we we draw the line? How do we define a tyrant?


    ...continue to the full review of Tyrants: A History of Power, Injustice, and Terror by Waller R. Newell

  16. This is the first of what is to be a set of 5 volumes providing a comprehensive narrative of late Roman military history from 284-641. It provides a detailed description of the changes in organization, equipment, strategy and tactics among both the Roman forces and her enemies in the relevant period, while also giving a detailed but accessible account of the campaigns and battles. This first volume covers the period from the end of the third century crisis to the sons of Constantine. He makes some interesting claims such as the earlier than attested increase in Roman cavalry use, and has undertaken a great deal of research to provide an informative, clear and well put together book...


    ...to the full review of Military History of Late Rome 284-361 by Ilkka Syvanne