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The Roman Art of War
C.M.Gilliver, Tempus Publishing Ltd, 1999
ISBN 0-7524-1422-4
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Melvadius
****
This book is split into five sections covering the various aspects of the Early Imperial Army including its organisation, how it moved, campaign camps, open combat and siege warfare. The book uses a good mix of well-referenced descriptive passages from period writers as well as recent research to argue her theories. I found this to be an interesting book that was easy to read while based on solid researched.

The Armour of Imperial Rome
H.Russell Robinson, Purnell Book Services, 1975
ISBN n/a
availability (where known): out of print

reviewed by: Melvadius
*****
This is the definitive book describing the various forms and developments of Roman helmets and armour, covering the period from 4th century BC to 3rd century AD. Most, if not all, recent reference books written in English now use the helmet classification system, first developed in this book, to identify archaeological finds by type. It is well referenced with normally at least three photographs or drawings of typical examples of each helmet. The development of each helmet is followed from its earliest to last known examples. If you want to know the specific differences between Imperial-Italic G, Imperial-Gallic H and Coolus B helmets this is the book for you. Some recent archaeological finds may have varied the periods of use, like an early date is now confirmed for lorica segmentata but otherwise this book has never been equalled. A small proportion of the original source material used in this book is currently on the web at - Armamentarium - http://museums.ncl.ac.uk/archive/arma/

The Roman Army, 31 BC - AD 337: A Source Book
Brian Campbell, Routledge, 1994
ISBN 0-415-07172-0 (HBK) or 0415071739 (PBK)
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Melvadius
****
It covers most aspects of the Army with nine chapters covering various aspects of; Soldiers, Officers, Emperor as Commander-in-Chief, Veterans, The Army; in the Field, in Peacetime, in Politics, in the Later Empire, Local Community & Law. It uses a wide range of referenced source material including literary sources, inscriptions and diplomas, papyri, ostraca, writing tablets and coins. This book gives some of the clearest indication of possible career paths for different ranks throughout the chosen period that I have found. It’s an easy book to read at different levels of interest and gives good additional information explaining some inscriptions.

Warfare in Roman Europe AD 350-425
Hugh Elton, Oxford University Press, 1996 (1997)
ISBN 0-19-815241-8
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Melvadius
***
This is an academic book, which has been developed from a doctoral thesis. As such it is primarily interested in looking at available literary and archaeological evidence regarding basic assumptions about different aspects of the military in this period. It is heavily referenced due to its intended use in identifying other areas of academic research. The book itself is split into nine main chapters with two of these devoted to barbarian economy & society and their military practices. The remaining chapters cover Roman topics including Roman organization arms & equipment, finance, recruiting, fortifications, foreign policy, strategy and operations. The work is not linear as it uses examples from different periods to support its arguments. Individually these items are interesting but they may be difficult to follow without good background knowledge or access to a good reference book of the period.

Roman Clothing and Fashion
A.T.Croom, Tempus Publishing Ltd, 2000
ISBN 0-7524-1469-0
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Melvadius
****
The book covers the 1st to the 5th Centuries AD and contains separate chapters on cloths & colour, beauty, as well as men’s, women, children and provincial clothing. This book is easy to read and well illustrated with some photographs including a few examples of recreated clothes but mainly using line drawings from mosaics and sculptures to illustrate the different topics under discussion. There are paragraphs on most aspects of clothing and fashion and it uses art works, literary evidence and surviving texts for supporting material. Its one of the few in depth works on civilian clothing to be published in recent years and the best that I’ve seen.

Frontinus, The Stratagems and the Aqueducts of Rome
English Translation by Charles E. Bennett, Loeb Classical Library, 1925 (1993)
ISBN 0-674-99192-3
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Melvadius
****
This book contains the Latin and English text for two books written by Frontinus, a man who had successive careers as general, governor and water commissioner within the Roman Empire in the 1st century AD. The four sections of the Stratagems contain short segments illustrating just about every possible military situation and how to turn them to your advantage. Stratagems range include being surprised on the march and drawing defenders out of besieged cities. By no means are all of the examples from Rome triumphant, as the ‘Deified Julius’ found when chasing Commius the Atrebatian. This is the book is a joy to browse through and play (where did successful modern generals really learn their tactics?).
The two sections of the Aqueducts are a record of his time as water commissioner for Rome, during which time he carried out a full audit of Rome’s water supply and the abuses occurring with it. It contains a history of the aqueduct system and a mass of technical descriptions including tables showing the various sizes of pipe in use. It also gives one of the few coherent examples from antiquity of how Rome actually functioned as a city. Combined with the Stratagems this book is well worth a look

The Making of the Roman Army from Republic to Empire
Lawrence Keppie, B.T.Batsford (1984), Routledge (1998)
ISBN 0-415-15150-3
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Melvadius
*****
The book has seven chapters covering; Army of the Republic, Marius' Mules, Caesar's conquest of Gaul, Emergence of the Imperial Legions, Age of Augustus & the Army of the Early roman Empire. There are seven appendices covering specific points including a glossary and known information on legions being raised, destroyed or disbanded. I found this book very well laid out with good illustrations and photographs as well as being easy to read. The bibliography is well referenced and is laid out by topics covered within the individual chapters.

The Imperial Roman Army (L' Armée Romaine, sous Le Haut-Empire)
Yann Le Bohec, B.T.Batsford (Picard Editeur), 1994 (1989)
ISBN 0-7134-7166-2
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Melvadius
****
I read the English translation of the original French edition so will primarily comment on it. The book is split into three main sections. 'Organisation of the Army' covering divisions of the army, the men and recruitment. 'The Activities' including training, tactics and strategy. 'The Role of the Army in the Empire' covering its history, the practical role and cultural influences. The book is well illustrated using tables and charts to illustrate specific points including recruitment and pay. The inclusion of line drawings of the panels from Trajan's column is interesting in itself. The book is very well referenced often drawing on French and German research, including some work in North African, not normally used in books written in English. Some idiosyncrasies due to the English translation but well worth looking at for the different viewpoint.

The Imperial Roman Army (L' Armée Romaine, sous Le Haut-Empire)
Yann Le Bohec, B.T.Batsford (Picard Editeur), 1994 (1989)
ISBN 0-7134-7166-2
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Melvadius
****
I read the English translation of the original French edition so will primarily comment on it. The book is split into three main sections. 'Organisation of the Army' covering divisions of the army, the men and recruitment. 'The Activities' including training, tactics and strategy. 'The Role of the Army in the Empire' covering its history, the practical role and cultural influences. The book is well illustrated using tables and charts to illustrate specific points including recruitment and pay. The inclusion of line drawings of the panels from Trajan's column is interesting in itself. The book is very well referenced often drawing on French and German research, including some work in North African, not normally used in books written in English. Some idiosyncrasies due to the English translation but well worth looking at for the different viewpoint.

The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome
Phl Barker, Wargames Research Group Publiction, 1981 (Fourth Edition ?)
ISBN n/a
availability (where known): Specialist Shops?

reviewed by: Melvadius
***
The book is split into six sections covering; basic Roman Tactics and Strategy, Organisation and formations, Orders of Battle, Enemy armies their tactics and the Roman response, battles of the period, dress and equipment. This book has a small bibliography which may be useful although it is not indexed and it's primary interest is for wargamers of the period. However, the author obtained access to the 1436 copy of the Notitia Dignitatum held by the Bodlean Library and compared it to the 1550 Munich copy used by Otto Seeck. Both of these copies were apparantly made from a lost document called the Codex Spirensis. He has recorded the differences between the colouration of shields associated with the units as noted in these two copies and noted some apparant errors in the indexing used with the Seeck copy. It is a curiosity but currently the only place that I've seen with these differences noted as well as some references to the few contemporary pictorial records of soldiers uniforms so worth a look for that alone.

The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire 29 B.C. to A.D. 641
J. Innes Miller, Oxford University Press, 1969 (1998)
ISBN 0-19-814264-1
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Melvadius
****
This book contains fourteen chapters, which variously describe the classical sources for spices, the actual botanical sources, the trade routes used, how payment was made and the ancient view on geography. The author has used a wide selection of different sources in his research into the various spice routes including ancient Chinese and Indian documents down to more modern botanical and archaeological work. It is primarily an academic book but is broken down into digestable sectons, is well referenced and the evidence that he has collected to support his work is very convincing. He probably has created the best record of the routes that various spices took to reach the Roman Empire including the fact that some spices were traded using the seasonal trade winds from south-east Asia to the west coast of Africa. I believe that this book contains the definitive work in this field and anyone wishing to know more about the spice trade should read it.

Caesar Against the Celts
Ramon L. Jimenez, Sarpedon (1996), Spellmont Limited (2001)
ISBN 1885119208
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Theodore Savas
****
The work begins with enough general background material on Caesar and the unstable political situation in Rome to provide readers with a clear context within which to study and appreciate Caesar's motivations for marching north and seeking war with the Celtic tribes. Jimenez's descriptions of the general's strategies and tactics are clearly presented and easy to understand and follow.
The pacing, depth, and focus of the author's prose is always good and in some cases, exceptional. Indeed, given its necessary brevity as part of a larger work, Jimenez's characterization of Caesar's second raid into Britain is one of the best modern accounts in print. Jimenez wisely utilized two of the final three chapters of his effort to set up the Roman Civil War, Caesar's dictatorship, and the impact of his murder. The last chapter, "The English Search for Caesar," is a riveting recital of the writings on Caesar from the ancient times through Napoleon III and beyond and their attempt to analyze and explain his conquests. It can perhaps be aptly described as literary desert following a multi-course meal. Finally, the illustrations included are plentiful and appropriate, and the citations and bibliography respectable.
Although Jimenez is clearly a fan of Caesar, he often takes the general to task for either skipping important details or exaggerating his accomplishments in his own account of his Celtic campaign, The Gallic Wars. He does this on occasion, and quite successfully, using modern archaeological discoveries. The author also chastises Caesar for his occasional reckless strategic behavior that, in some cases but for luck and weather, would have modern writers including his and Quintilius Varus' names in the same sentence (Varus and the bulk of three legions were wiped out in Germany in 9 A.D., largely due to excessive hubrus). Simply put, Caesar Against the Celts tells a good tale and saturates the gaps Caesar (and other writers) have left unfilled.
The work does have two minor drawbacks meriting mention. The first is the author's rather one-sided focus on Caesar to the detriment of the Celts. The bulk of the attention (and our knowledge base) is naturally on Caesar and the Roman perspective of the Gallic Wars. The problem with this slant is that Caesar and several of his supporting cast are generally well fleshed out, but the same cannot be said for the Celtic tribes and their leaders. The equivalent would writing a history of the Battle of Gettysburg by emphasizing and focusing almost exclusively on General Robert E. Lee and his army. Jimenez's characterization tends to lump the Celtic tribes together without sufficient individualistic distinctions being emphasized. The second liability concerns the book's cartography which, because of improper screening, is too dark to fully utilize. This weakness will be particularly irksome to those readers of military history (like this reviewer) who thrive on good maps.

As the Romans did, A Sourcebook in Roman Social History (2nd Edition)
Jo-Ann Shelton, Oxford University Press, 1998
ISBN 0-19-508973-1 (cloth); 0-19-508974-X (pbk)
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Q. Aurelius Symmachus
*****
I was a bit torn between recommending 4 or 5 stars but decided on 5 because the book does touch on so many aspects of society and pulls them altogether (although not in any great depth) in one fairly easy to use reference. The 15 chapters cover: I The Structure of Roman Society; II Families; III Marriage; IV Housing and City Life; V Domestic and Personal Concerns; VI Education; VII Occupations; VIII Slaves; IX Freedmen and Freedwomen; X Government and Politics; XI The Roman Army; XII The Provinces; XIII Women in Roman Society; XIV Leisure and Entertainment; XV Religion and Philosophy. The format is that each chapter sub-item is identified by both a paragraph number and a page number. There will be an explanatory paragraph briefly dealing with the subject which will be followed by a translation from a primary source pertaining to the subject. For example, Under Chapter XI The Roman Army you can find "301. Supply and Service Troops p.258." There you will find the short paragraph mentioned followed by a translation from `The Digest of Laws' 50.6.7 (Tarruntenus Paternus) which lists all of the occupations exempted from the more dangerous or onerous tasks due to their special skills and there for entered in the rolls of Supply and Service Troops.

The War Commentaries of Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar (translated Rex Warner), 1965
ISBN 0-19-814264-1
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Caesar Maximus
*****
The complete war diaries of one of the greatest generals of all time - Julius Caesar's first-hand account of his military campaigns and conquests. The book is concentrated around Caesar's battle tactics, political strategy, and psychological insight of the Gallic, Spanish, and Civil Wars. The three sections of the book are divided into the Gallic War, the Spanish War, and the Civil war, each subdivided into events and times that certain things took place. This book is a must read for any fan of Roman history. Caesar shows a great military and political mind, making him arguably one of the most important people to Rome. This book has been translated and rewritten by many authors, so you could find this book translated by someone other than the author listed above.

The World of Rome: An Introduction to Roman Culture
Peter Jones and Keith Sidwell, Editors, Cambridge University Press, 1997
ISBN 0 521 38421 4 (hardback) - ISBN 0 521 38600 4 (paperback)
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Q. Aurelius Symmachus
*****
An excellent reference book divided into three major parts, those being: Part I: Ideology, history and administration (1 The idea of Rome 753 - 31 BC, 2 Rome's new kings 31 BC - AD 476, 3 Princeps and imperator, 4 Governing Rome) ; Part II: Society and economy (5 The life of the city, 6 Production and consumption, 7 The Roman family) ; and Part III: The Roman mind (8 The Roman mind, 9 Roman literature, 10 Roman art and architecture). The illustrations are numerous and of high quality. There are five indices which are: an Index and Glossary of Latin Terms; a General Index; a Topographical Index; an Index of Personal Names; and an Index of Passages. In addition there are three appendices which include: Appendix 1: Roman Emperors; Appendix 2: Latin and Greek Writers; and Appendix 3: Cross-References with the Text of Reading Latin.
The book is arranged for reference purposes by paragraphs numbered 1-505 through the book. Cross-references within the text to other paragraphs in the book are indicated by the paragraph number in square brackets [].
The book is meant originally as a companion to Reading Latin, Cambridge University Press 1986, but it can just as well stand alone as an excellent reference book and contains many thought provoking concepts of interest to those interested in Roman culture and history. I think a good example of this is the following from page 172:
City of the Gods
Mobile deities
254. Rome collected cults as it collected people, but only in part because it collected people. First, Romans of the Republic had thought of themselves as especially loved by the Gods, and their success as a clear sign of divine favour [360ff.]. Second, they systematically invited the Gods of their enemies to join them and give up protecting their former clients. Third, they cemented the relationship between themselves and their subjects by encouraging them to worship the gods of Rome with equal loyalty and reverence. Fourth, since so many thousands of foreigners came to Rome anyway, it was inevitable that Rome would become a centre of many different cults. But immigrant communities did not bring their gods merely as an accompaniment. Rome was the sacred capital of the world. Immigrants who practised their religion there could argue that this gave their cult precedence over that of others. This is certainly what happened with Christianity.

Ancient Rome: Using Evidence
Pamela Bradley, Cambridge University Press, 2000
ISBN 0 521 79391 2 paperback
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Q. Aurelius Symmachus
*****
Primarily used as a textbook, "Ancient Rome: Using Evidence" is a most worthwhile volume for both reference and when seeking assistance in validating a point for discussion with respect to ancient Rome. Totaling 644 pages in 22 chapters, it covers the period from the Foundation of Rome through Life In An Imperial City In The First Century AD. Bradley's book contains over 180 illustrations plus 27 maps to highlight the text. The layout includes a sidebar of notes or topic items contained in each paragraph to assist the researcher in locating particular material. There is also a six page glossary just before the index. Now with its third publisher since the original copyright date of 1990, it is in its 8th printing, but this most likely is the result of its use as a textbook. There are occasional excerpts from original sources included in the various chapters however, for the most part Bradley supports her arguments through the use of copious endnotes contained in a 'Notes to the text' section located just before the glossary. I always like to include an example from the volume under review and for "Ancient Rome: Using Evidence" I have chosen one or my favourite subjects and this is to be found on Page 558, next to the sidebar item 'Nature of Messalina'. "Valeria Messalina was of Julian stock, related to Augustus on both sides of her family, and for this reason Gaius and arranged for his uncle Claudius to marry her. She was fourteen at the time and Claudius was over thirty years her senior. Although she bore him two children, Britannicus and Octavia, it is not surprising that she was concerned with gratifying her passions with other men. She was not only sexually depraved, but also insanely jealous of possible female rivals. Through her influence over Claudius and his freedmen, she gained whatever she wanted and eliminated those who stood in her way."

The Crowd in Rome in the Late Republic
Fergus Millar, University of Michigan Press, 1998
ISBN 0-472-10892-1
availability (where known): in print

reviewed by: Q. Aurelius Symmachus
*****
Fergus Millar is Camden Professor of Ancient History, Brasenose College, Oxford University and this book is based on a collection of lectures delivered by Professor Millar under the Thomas Spencer Jerome Lecture Series which were presented at the University of Michigan and the American Academy of Rome. Expanded and revised, these lectures now fill the pages of this most intriguing volume which takes into account the physical parameters of the Forum Romanum and the crowd that occupied it and shows how the crowd effect influenced many of the changes that took place, primarily targeting the period 80 to 50 BC.
Reading the Crowd in Rome has been a most enjoyable and thought provoking experience. There is one little error discovered on page 87, the final paragraph, where Caesar is identified as having held the office of Praetor in 65 BC. In fact Caesar was Aedile in 65, he was Praetor in 62. It must be pointed out that previous to this error, in the final paragraph on page 75, Caesar is correctly identified as holding the office of Aedile in 65 BC.
However, that little glitch notwithstanding, this is an enlightening approach to the period in question and, considering the evidence that Millar marshals up in 8 chapters to support his views, most believable.
One of the cases that Millar uses to support his thesis is the Cicero's prosecution of Verres. Cicero prepared 5 speeches but as things turned out only had to deliver the first one. From Cicero's preparations we know what he wanted to say and how he intended to proceed. We also have an idea of what he actually delivered, and the conclusion drawn is that the difference between the intention and the actual delivery was the reaction of the crowd.
Following my usual format of providing some excerpt from the book being reviewed, here from Chapter II, The Roman Crowd in Perspective, is Cicero and as his advice to the jurors during the trial of Verres. As this is read it is important to remember that the trial is not behind closed doors but being held in the forum before the crowd.
"Suppose that he escapes from this court too; I will embark on that course to which the populus Romanus has already been calling me. For as regards the rights of citizenship and of liberty, it considers that the right of judgment (sic) is its own, and rightly so. Let him by his use of force break his own senatorial councils and force his way through the quaestiones that represent us all; let him escape your [the jurors'] severity. Believe me, when he is before the populus Romanus, he will be held in tighter snares. The populus Romanus will believe those equites Romani who, when produced earlier as witnesses before you [the jurors], testified that by that man, while they themselves looked on [ipsis inspectantibus], a Roman citizen who could offer respectable men as guarantors had been hoisted on a cross. All thirty-five tribus will believe a man of exceptional gravity and distinction, M. Annius, who declared that in his presence a Roman citizen had been executed with an ax. . . . When I, by the beneficium of the populus Romanus, am able to conduct this case from a higher seat [the magistrate's tribunal], I do not fear either that any force will be able to save him from the votes [suffragia] of the populus Romanus or that on my part any gift [munus] of my aedileship can be fore magnificent or more welcome to the populus Romanus.
Nothing could express more clearly the principle that the senatorial jurors, functioning in the open Forum before the eyes of the people, were supposed to be there as the people's delegates or representatives."

The Roman Republic
Andrew Lintott, Sutton Publishing, 2000
ISBN 0-7509-2223-0
availability(where known): in print

reviewed by: EvilRedDragoon
*****
This is a magnificent summery of the Roman Republic. It covers all the main events from the rise of Rome to the Assasination of Caesar and its effects. The book is divided into 8 chapters each devoted to a time period and the major divisions of Republic History. The book itself is could be read in a day or two easily, giving the reader tons of information on the amazing personalities, events, and changes that occured in the 500 years of the Republic.
Very useful to all newcomers to the study of Roman History, especially those interested in this area of its history.

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