• Viggen

    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

    The siege of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, the fall of Masada to the Romans – these dramatic episodes in the First Jewish War (AD 66-70) are well known to students of the ancient world. Hardly known at all to them are the subsequent uprisings in the Diaspora of AD 115-117 and the Second Jewish War of AD 132-136. It is a surprising oversight. The failure of the second uprising in Judaea was of much greater consequence for the Jewish People than the better known conflict.
    William Horbury offers a new history of these important events. He is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge whose publications include works on Jewish messianism and Judaism under Herod the Great. He knows his subject intimately. This is evident in the extensive footnotes, which in aggregate make up almost half of the 512 page book...
    ...continue to the review of Jewish War under Trajan and Hadrian by William Horbury
    The superhero is nothing new. Our modern day graphic novels descend directly from the American comic books that emerged in the thirties, as if the United States was seeking hope in a world that was threatened by economic woe and violent conflict. Perhaps oddly for that nation in particular we find the iconic Superman was an alien orphan. In his first outing we are told he could hurdle skyscrapers, leap an eighth of a mile, raise tememdous weights, run faster than a streamline train, and nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin. Within a decade or two, his feats exceeded those limits by orders of magnitude...
    ...continue to the review of Hercules: The First Superhero by Philip Matyszak
    I will say from the outset that the reason I took on this review copy was because I found the concept interesting enough to draw me in to read, so I started on good terms. I am, for those who don’t know me, a historian and author with a solid bent towards the classical world (especially of Rome and the successor world of Rome.) I am a scientific dunce. I cannot change a light bulb, or even explain how one works. But just ask me about the religious policy of Maxentius, I dare you. So it turns out that there’s only a small amount of this book that I can say deals even remotely with my area of expertise....
    ...continue to the review of In Search of our Ancient Ancestors by Anthony Adolph
    As you settle down into whatever chair you have chosen to sit in whilst reading this wonderful book, be prepared to linger a while, because in Brutus of Troy, Anthony Adolph is about to transport you to a world of intrigue, mystery, pageantry and daring-do.
    Set over continents the Brutus myth is one which is far more complex than can be imagined. My first surprise was that Brutus was a myth at all – for a few pages I truly thought I was reading ancient history and marvelling that I had, in my career as an ancient historian, somehow missed a vital part of my education – alas my illusions were shattered when Adolph, rather glumly, announced that Brutus, like Romulus and Remus before him, was “entirely fictitious’. At this point I did wonder why bother reading on, ultimately it was a fairy story wasn’t it?
    continue to the review of Brutus of Troy: And the Quest for the Ancestry of the British by Anthony Adolph
    Weighing in at 310 pages (including two appendices), this medium-sized book is an encyclopedia-in-brief of the backgrounds (social, historical, theological) of the books, writers and editors of the New Testament, with basic section-by-section summaries, with comments, of each book. The maps and charts are marvels of concision and completeness: typical of all the charts is the four-page chronology of Roman emperors, Jewish and Roman leaders in Israel, and relevant events (pp. xix to xxii) from 6 BC to 138 AD, which gives a book’s worth of information in a small space...
    ...continue to the review of An Introduction to the New Testament by Raymond Brown
    It seems obvious to modern perspectives that at the height of the Roman Empire anyone living within the bounds of the Empire was ‘Roman’. However, it is also obvious that on the boundaries the degree to which the inhabitants accepted their ‘Romanness’ is open to interpretation. Even more crucially, as the Empire decayed there arises the question of how later citizens viewed themselves, especially in those regions which came under the control of the ‘Barbarian Successor States’. In ‘Staying Roman’, Conant has attempted to answer the question of how the inhabitants of the region reacted to these violent changes, especially with regard to the political and religious changes to which they were subjected...
    ...continue to the review of Staying Roman: Conquest and Identity in Africa and the Mediterranean by Jonathan Conant
    Christopher Matthew’s An Invincible Beast is a remarkable piece of military history. It is a comprehensive study of the Macedonian pike-phalanx, describing its origins, logistics, uses in battle, as well as its influence in the ancient world.
    A trained classicist, Matthew felt that even though the pike-phalanx was the dominant military formation for two centuries, being used by Alexander the Great himself in his campaigns, serious study of it has been neglected by historians. Thus, he wrote An Invincible Beast to remind readers of the importance of the pike-phalanx, and to banish the many myths that exist about it...
    ...continue to the review of An Invincible Beast: Understanding the Hellenistic Pike Phalanx in Action by Christopher Matthew
    If one is fortunate enough to actually live and work in one of the most famous cities of the world, what does one do when not hunched over a desk or negotiating Rome’s notoriously bad traffic? Mott LL Groom was one such lucky individual who lived in Rome for not one or five or ten years but a whopping twelve! A history major and Romanophile from an early age, Mott immediately set about pursuing his passion and wandering the ancient streets in his quest for all things Roman. Like a typical tourist Mott initially followed the well-established tour routes, but it wasn’t long before his chronologically-oriented mind began to rebel against the standard tourist tours. As Mott’s disenchantment grew, he decided to develop his own more logical tour...
    ...continue to the full review of A Walk With the Emperors: A Historic and Literary Tour of Ancient Rome by Mott LL Groom

    By Viggen, in News,

    Second part in our emperor series on Elagabalus` life. We know very little for certain about Elagabalus while he was emperor. There are two reasons for this. The first is that all palace politics are generally obscure, but when imperial policy is being made by women in an society deeply suspicious of women in politics, these women must necessarily work well behind the scenes. (Though the Julias did force through a decree allowing them to attend meetings of the senate.) Elagabalus himself had little interest in the minutiae of government and had little personal effect on the empire as a whole. In matters of imperial administration 'he was completely under the control of his mother', according to the historian Herodian...
    ...continue to Elagabalus the Emperor
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