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Found 34 results

  1. Pax Romana is a rather gentle but comprehensive refutation of this view – or at least a solid thesis by the author that 'the pendulum has swung too far'. In this book author and scholar Adrian Goldsworthy looks at Rome and its empire in a series of detailed studies – from conquest, to administration and frontier defences – and asks 'Did the Pax Romana really exist?' And if it did, was it beneficial for the people who lived under it...? ...continue to the review of Pax Romana: War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World by Adrian Goldsworthy
  2. The Fall of the Roman Empire by Peter Heather The fall of the Western Roman Empire is a topic that is at the heart of any complete analysis of Roman civilization and one that has held immense fascination for centuries. Its causes are a contentious and well-traveled path scholars (and amateurs) have argued since Gibbon. It is a daunting task, even for an established professor of classics to tackle, and Peter Heather tackles it with an intelligent, well-argued work of over 450 pages that takes the reader on an examination of the military and political aspects of that era. The layout is also well thought out even containing 19 pages of succinct biographies of key individuals mentioned, a timeline, a glossary of important terms of late antiquity, a healthy amount of notes one would expect from a scholar and a bibliography. Perhaps my only disappointment is with the bibliography, seeing the attention to detail given in the layout of this work I wished Heather would have included a narrative bibliography rather than a mere listing... ...read the full review of The Fall of the Roman Empire by Peter Heather
  3. This detailed, carefully argued book shows how Christian bishops used their mastery of moral, social and spiritual power, along with law and tradition, to guide the formation and governance of the Frankish kingdoms. The period covers the Gallic period, the conversion and baptism of Clovis I (c 508 AD), the deposition of the Merovingians in 751, the missionary conquests of Charlemagne (King 768-814, Emperor 800-814), and the breakup of the unified empire after the death of Charlemagne’s son Louis the Pious in 840... ...continue to the review of A Sacred Kingdom: Bishops and the Rise of Frankish Kingship by Michael E. Moore
  4. The Moral and Political Tradition of Rome This is another book published by Cornell University Press. The author is Donald Earl who wrote this book back in 1969... don't count on intense speculation but only what is completely known for sure to be examined deeply. The subject of this book is clearly about the 'Roman tradition', which is defined as the Roman aristocracy and its ideologies. Specifically, it focuses on the so called development of this tradition... ...read the full review of The Moral and Political Tradition of Rome by Donald Earl cheers viggen
  5. Ancient Rome: A Military and Political History Christopher S. Mackay Many scholars these days have an agenda, but Mackay is very up front about his. In his introduction, Mackay explains he seeks to present a nuts-and-bolts, no-nonsense introduction to Roman history. He refers to his approach as "traditional" insofar as it internalizes the conventional sources and view points. By "traditional" we of course mean European males at the top of their particular socio-economic ladder, who seemed to act without regard to modern sensibilities concerning wealth and power. The author acknowledges that the new focus in modern scholarship is a revisionist agenda designed to either illuminate heretofore unsung segments of Roman culture, or radically overturn prevailing assumptions of Roman civilization. Mackay feels this new revisionist focus should "complement rather than supplant" the traditional scholarship. It is the author's intention that his readers have the core understandings of "traditional" Roman history before availing themselves of ever-expanding alternative viewpoints.... to the full review of Ancient Rome: A Military and Political History by Christopher S. Mackay
  6. 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... ...continue to the review of In the Name of Lykourgos by Miltiadis Michalopoulos
  7. Failure of Empire by Noel Emmanuel Lenski The author in his epilogue states that his purpose in writing this book was to show the change in dynamics that a late Roman Emperor would have had to face and deal with and personally. I think he does an excellent job. He relies on primary sources such as Zosimus, Ammaianus and the Annonymous to name a few as well as several contemporary works by such historians as Peter Heather, AHM Jones and Ramsey MacMullen. The book is around 400 pages long and covers every aspect of the reign of Valens, (as well as his brother in the West Valentinian), from how they came to power, to the end of Valens reign. He covers the challenges Valens faced from simply being of Pannonian birth and of the extreme exertion of will needed to govern the East during the 4th century. ...read the full review of Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D. by Noel Emmanuel Lenski cheers viggen
  8. Pertinax

    Empire Of Pleasures by Andrew Dalby

    well -after the Solstice feasting has subsided and no more mistletoe can be found for the golden sickle's blow, I will take courage and review a book written by one of our Forum members.This is going to a nervy process as Mr Andrew Dalby is an esteemed author and man of wide learning,(actually frighteningly wide),nothing daunted I hope to deliver reviews on his most recent work and my long overdue commentary on Galen.If I am struck down in the Forum by assassins in the New Year, look for a pensive gent, carrying apples, with a blood stained toga. I think he will explain the apples soon I was very pleased to find this book as I was aware of Mr Dalby's previous works, and it is evident that his sources are well researched and his excellent eye for language digs out subtle interperative nuances that may be lost to the monolingual. The thing that strikes me about this book is that it benefits from being "read" in the Roman manner, ie: out loud - to savour cadences and phrases like rich foods, indeed that is both a compliment and a type of critiscism. The difficulty with this work is, that if one sits and reads, without the slow discipline of speaking and proper phrasing, the detail of the text is actually almost too rich. That of course is a critiscism that most people would consider a compliment , my point is that it was apt for me to read this book over the Xmas period as its density mirrored a festive meal. ...continue to the full review of Empire Of Pleasures by Andrew Dalby
  9. I am privileged to interview Dr. Francesco Galassi on behalf of UNRV. He and his co-author Huton Ashrafian wrote the interesting and thought-provoking book, “Julius Caesar’s Disease: A new Diagnosis.” Guy S. für UNRV: Dr. Galassi, how did you become interested in the study of paleopathology (the study of ancient diseases in man and animals)? More specifically, what inspired you to reevaluate the health of Julius Caesar? ...continue to the interview with Francesco Galassi! Thanks @guy and Francesco
  10. Adding to the rapidly-extending corpus of books on Late Antiquity comes the Oxford publication on the Late Roman/Early Byzantine Empress, Theodora, wife of Justinian. The author of the book, David Potter – Francis W. Kelsey Collegiate Professor of Greek and Roman History and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Greek and Latin at the University of Michigan – here attempts to find the real person behind the scheming woman portrayed by Procopius in his ‘Secret History. The Contents of the book clearly illustrate that Potter is approaching his theme using a roughly chronological approach... ...continue to the review of Theodora: Actress, Empress, Saint by David Potter
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. "There is no crime for those have Christ," declared Shenoute, a fifth-century Egyptian abbot. For Shenoute and those like him, the call from Christ to promote, defend and preserve the new religion outweighed any other consideration and justified any means. "Violence" whether of the margins or of the center , cannot be understood without reference to the values, motives and self-preservations of its authors, explains Michael Gaddis, the book
  16. Viggen

    Roman Medicine by Audrey Cruse

    Roman Medicine, by Audrey Cruse This title is a recent publication(2004).It is a very well presented volume with a considerable range of quality illustrations.The whole presentation of this work is a constant reminder to modern scholars that one must always try to take a step back from any historical material ( and previous scholarly works) to avoid imposing the "modern" on the behaviour and goals of our various ancestors. Cruse is rigorous in attempting to step aside from judgements based on contemporary usage, this is most immediatley obvious in the references to healing plants, as materia medica plants can have a stratlingly wide range of uses for very different medical conditions though within historical eras they have a tendency to be fashionable for one predominant disease... ...read the full review of Roman Medicine by Audrey Cruse
  17. The Fall of Rome And the End of Civilization by Bryan Ward-Perkins The author addresses a simple question throughout this gem of a book, Why did Rome fall? Although only two hundred pages long, at the end of the book, I felt as if I had read the entire series of books on the fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbon. The author is a scholar and has done an extraordinary amount of research and as he says in his preface, the book took an unconscionably long time to research, write and get published. I can certainly imagine that, as each sentence in this book is a mine of information and is backed by historical references, which are often scant, fragmentary or even non-existent for many years in those crucial centuries that led to the fall of the Empire from the 4th century AD to the end of the 5th... ...read the full review of The Fall of Rome And the End of Civilization by Bryan Ward-Perkins
  18. 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... ...continue to the review of The Rise and Fall of the Seleukid Empire by J. Grainger
  19. Ghosts of Vesuvius by Charles R. Pellegrino In his latest book combining science, archeology, religion and fantastic narrative; Charles Pellegrino recounts the timeless tale of destruction that was Pompeii and Herculaneum. Supported by the contemporary accounts of the Pliny's as well as groundbreaking forensic evidence from archeologists, Pellegrino brings the 79AD eruption vividly to life, recounting the cities final hours and movements before they were engulfed in the pyroclastic avalanche which would keep them hidden and preserved until they were unearthed in the mid eighteenth century... ...read the full review of Ghosts of Vesuvius by Charles R. Pellegrino
  20. The Battle that Stopped Rome by Peter S. Wells In the "Battle that Stopped Rome" Professor Peter Wells brings to light discoveries in the recent find of one of the most famous and influential battles of the ancient world known as the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. This should be a welcome work, the battlefield is the most complete one of its kind ever found, located in a semi-rural area of Germany and undisturbed for two thousand years. Unfortunately rather than stating the discoveries and giving a view to all possible theories, which would have made this a seminal work, Wells misses this opportunity by embarking on an opinionated interpretation of the event. Judicious and balanced this work is not. Perhaps this is possibly explained by his area of concentration in anthropology; his writings are almost exclusively dedicated to the northern barbarians of antiquity. In spite of their victory, Wells seems somewhat defensive of the German tribes in his portrayal of the battle.... ...read the full review of The Battle that stopped Rome by Peter S. Wells
  21. Upon reading this biographical type book I thought I would write a review about the book and what my thought on this book were. Well here we go. Cicero: Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician Lets start things off with a brief synopsis of the book contents. In a nut shell the book is a chronological outlook on the life of Cicero, from his days as a pupil, to his dominance in the courts, to his controversial speeches, and his end at the hands of Anthony's goonies. The author seems to be very biases in Cicero's favor, so the way he writes about Cicero may be in question but that is what history is all about, creating your own interpretations on historical facts... ...read the full review of Cicero, The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician by Anthony Everitt
  22. In The Second Jewish Revolt: The Bar Kokhba War, 132-136 C.E., Menahem Mor offers a detailed account in an attempt to better understand the uprising against the Romans. Mor is Professor of Jewish History at the University of Haifa. He has published monographs and articles on Jewish history during the Second Temple Period. In his Introduction to The Second Jewish War he explains that it is an updated version in English of his volume The Bar Kokhba Revolt: Its Extent and Effect published in Hebrew in 1991. He was compelled to write the new book because of the sheer amount of new research now available, in particular information extracted from documents found in refuge caves near the Dead Sea. ...continue to the review of The Second Jewish Revolt by Menahem Mor
  23. The Roman Empire And The Silk Road by Raoul McLoughlin seeks to describe a situation that existed for a few hundred years in the past. Trade routes across Asia and the societies that interacted along it. He writes in an engaging style without sensationalist questioning. Everything is derived from ancient sources in a factual manner. In most cases, the study of Roman history remains focused on that empire's interior and periphery, but McLoughlin places SPQR in context, in relation to the world around it, and demonstrates convincingly how important how important these contacts were to keeping the Roman Empire economically viable. The emphasis is on one product - silk. It might seem a little myopic but the point is that silk was a hugely valuable and desirable commodity. The Chinese paid their troops in bales of it. Once the Romans discovered this wonder material from a far off land they craved it as a fashion necessity, as a practical material, and as a status symbol... ...continue to the full review of Roman Empire And The Silk Road by Raoul McLoughlin
  24. The book titled "The Assasination of Julius Caesar" by Michael Parenti, makes for compelling reading. It provides a detailed account of the events leading up to, and including, the fatefull Ides of March. Written from what I can only term a modern day "plebian" perspective, Parenti separates the book into chapters which compliment each other. They range in subject from discussions about Caesar the Popularis, to Cicero.....the conservative but brilliant orator who's position at the time was certainly anti Caesar, and whose same position has been adopted time and time again by historians ever since those fatefull days of the late republic... ...read the full review of The Assassination Of Julius Caesar by Michael Parenti
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