• Viggen

    Any biography of Vipsanius Agrippa has a huge obstacle to overcome, and that obstacle can be summarized in one word – Augustus. On the written page, just as in the reality, the life and deeds of Augustus tend to crowd Agrippa on to the sidelines. So closely were the fortunes of Agrippa tied to those of Augustus that any biography of Agrippa risks becoming merely another biography of Augustus, albeit written from a slightly different perspective.


    Thus, for all practical purposes, the life of Agrippa began when he met Augustus (then Octavius), for virtually nothing is known of Agrippa before then. Thenceforth for most of the next decade, we only hear of Agrippa because he was at Augustus' right hand when something interesting happened...


    ...continue to the review of Marcus Agrippa: Right-Hand Man of Caesar Augustus by Lindsay Powell

    One of the major processes in the upsurge of interest in Late Antiquity is the translation of hard-to-access sources that are known only to specialists. One of the players in this process is Routledge’s Classical Translations Series. The latest in the series is this translation of the fragments of Peter the Patrician. Although little is known of Peter, he was a person of some importance, acting as a diplomat on behalf of the Eastern Empire and also serving as magister officiorum (Master of the Offices) and receiving the honorary title of patricius, hence the title of this book...
    ...continue to the review of The Lost History of Peter the Patrician by Thomas M. Banchich
    We won’t ever see the glorious structures of Palmyra again. ISIL/Daesh destroyed the Temple of Bel, the Temple of Baalshamin and the Arch of Triumph in 2015, and beheaded the elderly head of antiquities, Khaled al-Assaad. Thank whichever god you serve for the photographs, the museums that hold ancient reliefs and inscriptions, and books such as Smith’s Roman Palmyra. The outrages of 2015 came after Smith had completed his work on the community that thrived in the Syrian desert, located at an oasis on the frontier between Rome and Parthia. Therefore it stands as a monument in its own right to a rich period (the first three centuries AD) that saw the pastoral settlement develop into an important trading city with influence throughout the Roman empire....
    ...continue to the review of Roman Palmyra: Identity, Community, and State Formation by Andrew M. Smith II
    What does the Roman Republic mean to you? A few might admit they've never heard of it. For others it's merely a long period of ancient history before the Romans invented orgies and interesting tyrants. Yet it appears that the system of government adopted by the Romans between the rejection of monarchy and the acceptance of autocracy is something very inspiring to some of us. Time and again writers refer to the Roman world seeking some sort of guidance for their own goals and motives, something I find somewhat ironic because Roman Republicanism was never set in stone. Instead it was cast in bronze, malleable, demanding continual polishing, and ultimately good for material when the original vessel was no longer holding water....
    ...continue to the review of The Life of Roman Republicanism by Joy Connolly
    Interview by Ian Hughes
    Ian Hughes for UNRV: Today we have the distinct pleasure to interview noted author and historian Professor Jonathan Harris about his latest book The Lost World of Byzantium.
    UNRV: The first question to ask concerns your research interests. On the Royal Holloway website it states that these lie in “Byzantine History 900-1460; relations between Byzantium and the west, especially during the Crusades and the Italian Renaissance; the Greek diaspora after 1453”. What made you focus on the Byzantine Empire rather than on the Crusades which appear to have remained far more popular amongst Western historians?
    ...continue to the Interview with Jonathan Harris on The Lost World of Byzantium
    The young student many times begins his or her studies of ancient Rome by learning only about the famous personalities, the pivotal dates, and the crucial battles. This might leave the student with the sterile impression that the ancient history of Rome was only about shining marble buildings, clean tidy roads, great orators, conquering generals, countless decadent emperors, and innumerable grand monuments.
    Too often, the mud and the grime, the pungent and putrid odors, the deafening noise from the crowded bustling streets, the many foreign tongues heard at the busy markets, and the sounds and confusion of any major ancient city are forgotten. Only later the student might want to learn the true nitty-gritty of everyday life for the ordinary resident of Rome.
    ...continue to the full review of The Archaeology of Sanitation in Roman Italy by Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow
    Book Review by Thomas A. Timmes 
    Following his widely acclaimed hit series, Marius’ Mules, noted author and historian S.J.A. Turney continues to research and write highly popular novels. With over twenty successful books to his credit, Praetorian: The Great Game is book one of a brand-new series. Book two, Praetorian: The Price of Treason, was released in December 2015, and book three should follow shortly.  Praetorian: The Great Game is not a book for the faint of heart! But if you enjoy reading non-stop action and breathtaking suspense, this book is for you. Written to please Romanophiles and historians alike, each chapter is a masterpiece of imagery, composition, and solid historical research...
    ...continue to the review of Praetorian: The Great Game by S.J.A. Turney
    Review by Ian Hughes
    If a member of the public was to be asked the question of when the Roman Empire fell, the usual answer would be centred on events in the fifth century, and some may even give the specific date of 476 – the year when the last emperor in Rome was overthrown. For many scholars this is an unacceptable situation, as they know that the Roman Empire in the East continued into the next millennium, never mind the next century.
    Part of the reason for this state of affairs is a legacy of the historians of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries. For them the Eastern Roman Empire – now known as the Byzantine Empire – was a degenerate, money-loving, corrupt entity dominated by court intrigue and eunuchs: a far cry from the majesty of Rome in the first century AD. In his new book Byzantine historian Jonathan Harris asks the question of why, if the inhabitants were as lazy, corrupt and inefficient as usually depicted, could their empire have lasted for nearly a thousand years longer than its Western counterpart...
    ...continue to the review of The Lost World of Byzantium by Jonathan Harris
    p.s. interview with the author coming soon!
    Book Review by Michael Mates
    The course of Empire often runs like a normal distribution curve, with success and failure measured on the vertical axis, and time, usually a few centuries or so, on the horizontal. The Byzantine Empire, by contrast, looks like a sine wave, a succession of up-and-down roller coaster curves, lasting 1,123 years, from the foundation of Constantinople in 330 AD to its fall in 1453. (The Byzantines themselves, with some justification as self-described Romans, would claim 1,480 years, from the establishment of the Roman Empire in 27 BC.)
    Romane’s book examines one of the political-military high points, the period from 959 to 1025, showing how the Empire benefitted from relative stability of rule; protection of core territories; strategic use of tribute; and skilled use of heavy cavalry, combined-arms tactics, siege warfare, stable rule (with only one emperor assassinated during the period), and clever and profitable alliances to ensure survival...
    ...continue to the review of Byzantium Triumphant: The Military History of the Byzantines 959-1025 by Julian Romane
    In her new book, SPQR, Mary Beard writes about the history of the first millennium of ancient Rome – roughly covering the period of time from Rome’s foundation, on the implausibly precise date of 21 April 753 BCE, to the year 212 CE when the Emperor Caracalla made every free inhabitant of the Roman Empire a full Roman citizen. Yet she chose to begin the book roughly three-quarters of the way into that millennium, with a discussion of the suppression of the Catiline rebellion by Cicero in 63 BCE. Why did she do that?
    ...continue to the review of SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard
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