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Archaeology Odyssey
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars

You Should Dig This

I've subscribed to this since I first read it.The first issue I saw was number two I think.Like many other issues since, that one was devoted for the most part to a single topic -- in that case the Etruscans -- and was rivetting.I hardly noticed I was on the beach sucking up UV and ice water.This is easily my favorite magazine, and certainly is my all-time favorite magazine about archaeology and history.It blew _Discovering Archaeology_ off the map, despite better distribution for its competitor.

A focus on Bible related archaeology seems to be a problem for some narrow-minded folks when they see BAR._Archaeology Odyssey_ is published by BAR, but isn't "Biblical".... ... Read more

Asin: B000060MJP
Sales Rank: 519
Subjects:  1. History    2. Religion & Spirituality    3. Science   


Director: Stanley Kubrick
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
DVD (02 January, 2002)
list price: $19.98
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Editorial Review

Stanley Kubrick was only 31 years old when Kirk Douglas (star of Kubrick's classic Paths of Glory) recruited the young director to pilot this epic saga, in which the rebellious slave Spartacus (played by Douglas) leads a freedom revolt against the decadent Roman Empire. Kubrick would later disown the film because it was not a personal project--he was merely a director-for-hire--but Spartacus remains one of the best of Hollywood's grand historical epics. With an intelligent screenplay by then-blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo (from a novel by Howard Fast), its message of moral integrity and courageous conviction is still quite powerful, and the all-star cast (including Charles Laughton in full toga) is full of entertaining surprises. Fully restored in 1991 to include scenes deleted from the original 1960 release, the full-length Spartacus is a grand-scale cinematic marvel, offering some of the most awesome battles ever filmed and a central performance by Douglas that's as sensitively emotional as it is intensely heroic. Jean Simmons plays the slave woman who becomes Spartacus's wife, and Peter Ustinov steals the show with his frequently hilarious, Oscar-winning performance as a slave trader who shamelessly curries favor with his Roman superiors. The restored version also includes a formerly deleted bathhouse scene in which Laurence Olivier plays a bisexual Roman senator (with restored dialogue dubbed by Anthony Hopkins) who gets hot and bothered over a slave servant played by Tony Curtis. These and other restored scenes expand the film to just over three hours in length. Despite some forgivable lulls, this is a rousing and substantial drama that grabs and holds your attention. Breaking tradition with sophisticated themes and a downbeat (yet eminently noble) conclusion, Spartacus is a thinking person's epic, rising above mere spectacle with a story as impressive as its widescreen action and Oscar-winning sets. --Jeff Shannon ... Read more


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Reviews (120)

3-0 out of 5 stars pretty good classic...
This is a great movie which even today stands the test against time. While it isn't quite up to par with Gladiator, it does hold its own as a classic tale of the rebellious slave gladiator who stands against the Roman Empire. I recomend this movie to most, but watch this first before you watch Gladiator. You will see art only gets better with time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Forget historical accuracy
This is a dramatized Hollywood film, not a documentary. It was chosen as the manliest movie of all time in "The Big Damn Book of Sheer Manliness," but has much more to recommend it, of course. Much has already been written praising the screenplay, direction, and acting talents involved, particulary those of Olivier, Ustinov, and Laughton. I have no quibble with any of that. It does have a few flaws, however. Without going so far as to call it a 'noble failure,' one can point to elements that could have been handled better. In some scenes the background, ostensibly outdoors, is obviously and inexplicably a stage set, contrasting jarringly with the real outdoor shots seen throughout most of the film. The casting of Tony Curtis as Antoninus and John Gavin as Julius Caesar was a mistake. Curiously, these two characters are not in the Howard Fast novel, but were added for the film. Both actors were certainly chosen for their looks; speaking their lines doesn't seem to have been their strong point. With Gavin I'm constantly expecting him to trip over his tongue, forcing him to start over. And the score by Alex North, although some reviewers say good things about it, just doesn't work for me. Most of the time it has a contemporary Hollywood feel and does nothing to evoke the ancient world. (The 'Love Theme,' incidentally, has been recorded numerous times by jazz musicians like Bill Evans and Yusef Lateef.) Only the segments stripped down to trumpets and snare drums -- the martial music -- really succeed. At any rate, the film's virtues outweigh its faults, and is a remarkable achievement, coming out when it did, unlike almost anything which had gone before. It's worth many viewings. (BL, Tucker, GA)

5-0 out of 5 stars Oysters ,snails, politics, slavery, swordplay
This movie has it all in epic proportions that engage the modern mind into choosing where they fall in the mix..... the mob, the politician, the slave ,the business man trying to make an honest buck training men to kill other men.On the surface a gladiator film that defines the genre...look deeper and you find yourself... ... Read more

Asin: 0783226039
Subjects:  1. Feature Film-action/Adventure   

Travel in the Ancient World
by Lionel Casson
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 January, 1994)
list price: $20.95 -- our price: $20.95
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging Study of Travel in Ancient Times
This is a unique and highly interesting account of the many facets of travel in the ancient world.The author covers types of travel, reasons for travel, accomodations, major historical attractions, the mail delivery system in ancient times, and many other topics.In general, the book is highly informative, readable, and entertaining.Descriptions of holiday travel, inns and restaurants, the Roman road system, the trade routes of ancient times are quite fascinating. In a very few places the book seems to bog down in perhaps too much detail, but overall, the book is quite good.The author's perspective is also primarily on the Western world and the Near East, including Egypt.Thus, other ancient cultures (e.g., China) are mentioned only briefly.The book is a very unique contribution to the study of the ancient world.Highly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars 80% Great, 10% Garbage; about the other 10%, I'm not sure
This *is* your one-stop volume on travellers in the ancient world. The author, a professor in classics, wrote it in 1974 then updated it in 1994. Complacently, in the forward he announces that it needed almost no changes.
This statement made me leery. In these 20 years, archaeology has had revolutions of information and theory. Casson knew that he knew everything, so he did not bother to research all the areas where he was under-informed and way out of date, even in 1974.
What is out of Greek and Roman writing is cooked down for you with greater depth and breadth than you will find anywhere else. He is especially strong in the late Roman period. However, classicists are oriented to writing and civilizations. Like most of them, Casson is very weak in his first, pre classical chapters, having no knowledge of human travel outside of the major civilizations. He still has astonishing holes in his classical chapters.
For example, time does not excuse his saying about Roman war galleys: "little more than oversize racing shells, they necessarily followed the coasts and put into harbour every night." Exert a little logic. These were designed for ramming warfare: not fragile, not low-sided. Get particulars out of Rodger's 'Greek and Roman Naval Warfare' (1937) Also, you cannot surprise an enemy place if you coast-crawl up to it; nor can you chase an enemy fleet at sea if you can't sail out of sight of land. If the galley puts into shore each night, it is because the official on board requires it, not because they can't sail open waters at night.
Casson does pass on the evidence against the wide-spread myth of cemented Roman roads, pg168. Thank him for that. Then he treats as fact the 1930s theory of Lefebre des Noettes, whose shoddy observation and distinctly biased study declared that horses were harnessed by *all* the ancients with the same choking "ancient traction system" that never existed, and that saddles, stirrups, and horseshoes were not used until the Middle Ages.
LdN's theories, long thought suspect by people with a better eye for ancient artwork, were thoroughly exploded by Spruytte (see 'Early Harness Systems' 1974) which reconstructed three major systems, none of which discomforted the horses he used. All three were used through the 1800s in slightly different forms. Evidence exists for nailed horseshoes in Rome, not hipposandals, from the 1st C CE (impressed in brick), for saddles from 5th C BC (Pazyryk), and for stirrups from a similar period. Archaeologists who keep excusing early horseshoe finds as "special cases" have not freed themselves from LdN's dishonesty.
In any case, Casson's contention that these last three items are necessary for comfortable riding over long distances is not borne out by long distance riders. Modern 100-mile eventers from desert, semi-desert, or Mediterranean climates may never shoe their horses (Hyland) despite high mileage training. Choose a horse by ancient rules of conformation (Xenophon), with a well-padded rather than high-spined back, and it should be comfortable, especially to people who do not know saddles "ought" to exist. Bareback is *more* comfortable for long overland rides, esp. as stirrups strain and cramp the ankles and knees. One avoids all the problems of getting a saddle that fits the horse that fits the rider, and doesn't injure either. At the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, for the first few years new riders train with no stirrups to develop a good seat. Stirrups are only necessary for warfare and stock work. Over-dependence on them makes a poorer rider.
Casson also subscribes to Victorian social Darwinism: first humans were wandering hunters, then nomadic herdsmen, then finally farmers.
The modern knowledge is that humans were wandering hunters, then settled farmers. Only around 3500 BC, as the last of the Ice-Age glaciers shrank and the world got drier, did they invent nomadic herding. Horses were domesticated about 4500 BC (Sredni Stog excavations) by farmers with no vehicles. Since the teeth of excavated skulls show bit wear, the horses were ridden. The idea (passed on by Casson) that horses were only driven until the classical period is an out-of-date theory due to urbano-centrism and wide spread ignorance of horse-handling.
As well, Casson seems unaware of the use of sledges before wagons in Mesopotamia (Piggot, 'Wagon, Chariot, and Carriage') or of the traveling done by Neolithic traders. All part of his early period weakness, but he apparently doesn't *care* about that period. It's just a lead-in to what he considers the good stuff, the classical period.
If you keep these holes in mind, it can be a fascinating book, opening a door on ancient tourism and traveller's lodging that I was very glad to have read. His writing style is light and easy, despite his heavy scholastic background, his translations are modern, and his enthusiasm unflagging. I'm finding room for it on my very crowded shelves, so despite its flaws it is still worth acquiring for the many good parts.

5-0 out of 5 stars Time to take a trip
Another excellent title by Lionel Casson, professor emeritus of classics at NY University. Originally published in the 1970s it is in a 1994 softbound edition with very few changes. The book has chapters on inns andrestaurants, ancient tourism, travel by sea, travel by land, and ancientpostal systems. Although this may sound like it's pretty dry, it shouldprove to be very interesting to anyone who likes history of any kind, andis quite amusing in spots.

For example, when pork, a popular meat, wasunavailable or too expensive, unethical restauranteurs would sometimessubstitute human flesh which apparently is indistinguishable (I wouldn'tknow) and generally quite cheap and available (this was in Roman times, sothat shouldn't be too surprising I guess). Okay, that's a little moregruesome than it is amusing, but trust me, there are amusing things in thebook and it is so interesting that you should fly through it and wind upwanting more.Of the book, not the pork.

Other books by this authorinclude "The Ancient Mariners" which just came out in a new andgreatly revised edition. I recommend the older edition having read it, andrecommend the new edition because Casson is a qualified expert and verygood writer. It's sometimes hard for me to believe a writer on ancienthistory could be so entertaining, and I love ancient history. ... Read more

Isbn: 0801848083
Sales Rank: 302922
Subjects:  1. Ancient - General    2. Essays & Travelogues    3. History - General History    4. History: World    5. Travel, Ancient    6. Voyages And Travels    7. History / Ancient / General   


Food in Antiquity : A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples
by Don R. Brothwell Patricia Brothwell
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 December, 1997)
list price: $19.95 -- our price: $19.95
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Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Primarily Archaeological.
I picked up this book thinking that it would be a nice survey-style introduction into the various foods and dishes of the ancient world--especially the Classical Mediterranean, given the mosaic on thecover.However, this reads far more like an archaeological treatiserecording processes of animal and plant domestication since the Neolithic. With a plethora of taxonomic and anatomical information that's of littleuse to the non-specialist, the book nevertheless manages to intrigue onoccasion, with some tidbits; especially fascinating are the chapters oninsects as food and on beverages.Most of the work focuses on theclassical and near-eastern civilizations, but occasional mention is made ofthe mesoamerican cultures as well.Worth reading, but by no means acomprehensive work on early diets. ... Read more

Isbn: 0801857406
Sales Rank: 480059
Subjects:  1. Ancient - General    2. Ancient World History    3. Anthropology - Cultural    4. Cooking / Wine    5. Food    6. Food habits    7. General    8. History    9. History: World    10. Social History    11. History / Ancient / General   


Cicero : The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Hardcover (04 June, 2002)
list price: $25.95
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Reviews (53)

4-0 out of 5 stars Let's talk about Rome and America ...
A previous reviewers wrote,
"Upon closing the book, my overwhelming sense was that Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson and, yes, Bill Clinton would have done perfectly well in Julian Rome."

Yes, I agree.But then, they would have found themselves in a very different situation. After finishing Everitt's Çicero, any reader should understand that a man of ambition in late republican Rome probably didn't start out by running for County Commissioner and working himself up patiently through the party ranks. Instead, maybe you'd dip into the family fortune, take out a few loans, raise an army, and hey, go invade Syria! If you came back to find yourself out-maneuvered by someone equally ambitious, you could hire a few hooligans to slit his throat.Or maybe you'd be more principled in your observance of Roman virtue, and simply try to out-talk him in the Senate.In either case, you'd pretty much rise and fall by your own merits, combined with a lot of luck, but with relatively little of the legalistic checks and balances (or red tape) of our own social system.

This is aprovocative book, regardless of what anyone says about the author's use of sources or his treatment of Cicero's writings and ideas.It focuses on Cicero the person, made recognizable to us from our own modern perspective,in the context of a somewhat alien social setting (no police forces, no standing army, no career civil service, etc.).Kinda makes you wonder what America might look like if our own Republicans really, truly got their way.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography
This book provides valuable insight into the culture of Rome at the time Cicero lived. It also is perhaps one of the most interesting biographies of Cicero to date. It reads like a novel, as a good history book should, but is also detailed in its account of the life of one ofhistory's greatest statesmen and orators.

5-0 out of 5 stars Everitt v. Rawson
There are many able and thoughtful reviews of this bestseller below.Rather than rehash the common themes -- namely that "Cicero" is well-written but a bit shallow (I happen to agree) -- I've decided to use this review to assess Everitt's work against the last popular biography on the great Roman statesman and philosopher, Elizabeth Rawson's "Cicero: A Portrait," which is regarded by many Roman scholars as the finest ever written.With diligence and a little bit of luck I was able to obtain a copy of Rawson on the Internet.I decided to read the two books concurrently to discover why many learned readers hold her book in so much higher regard than Everitt's.

Keeping with the spirit of a head-to-head competition, first let us consider the "tale of the tape."The paperback versions of both books are remarkably similar is structure, organization and length.That is, both are chronological narratives organized into seventeen chapters and just over 300 pages in length (it should be noted that the font and margins in Rawson are smaller, so "Portrait" is roughly 20% longer in terms of wordcount).Clearly, then, Everitt's relative weakness isn't excessive brevity or an unorthodox and ineffective approach to Cicero's life.

Much to my surprise, these books turned out to be just as similar in content as they were in size.Rawson certainly does a more thorough job of analyzing Cicero's philosophical works and her book ends with an excellent but brief review of Cicero's legacy, but overall Everitt's prose is more lucid and he excels Rawson in his ability to capture the pulse of life in Republican Rome (his descriptions of the traditional Roman marriage ceremony and assembly voting procedures are especially noteworthy).Rawson doesn't quote from Cicero's writings or letters to Atticus any more extensively than Everitt -- indeed, Everitt's choice of quotes are so precisely similar to Rawson's that it almost raises some suspicions.In sum, because these books are so close in every way I feel that Everitt's is superior simply because it is more readable (not to mention far easier to find and purchase).

In closing, I'd like to echo the frequent comment that this book isn't a deep and penetrating study of Cicero and his times, such as Meier's biography of Caesar.It wasn't meant to be.It is targeted to a wide audience and succeeds exceptionally well at bringing Rome and one of its most remarkable figures to the average reader.In a world where many of the liberal arts graduates of our leading universities never touch Cicero or Polybius or Livy or Thucydides and probably couldn't tell you whether the Greeks or Romans came first, I can't help but think that books like this are at least a step in the right direction toward stimulating public interest in the classics.Ideally, "Cicero" will inspire young students or the merely intellectually curious to read some of Cicero's writings or pursue more substantial works on the Republican Rome or the ancient world in general.As someone who didn't "discover" the ancients until graduate school and then developed a passion for them, I can only hope that books like this will make a few converts along the way.
... Read more

Isbn: 0375507469
Sales Rank: 151522
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. Ancient - Rome    3. Ancient Rome - History    4. Biography    5. Biography & Autobiography    6. Biography / Autobiography    7. Biography/Autobiography    8. Cicero, Marcus Tullius    9. Historical - General    10. Orators    11. Political    12. Rome    13. Statesmen    14. Biography & Autobiography / Political   

The Vanished Library (Hellenistic Culture and Society ; 7)
by Luciano Canfora Martin Ryle
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 September, 1990)
list price: $16.05 -- our price: $10.91
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Reviews (15)

4-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Introduction to the Great Library
Almost certainly, no other ancient institution has caught the modern imagination so much as has The Library of Alexandria.Begun around 300BC, this remarkable establishment became _the_ center of learning and scholarship in the Mediterranean world for hundreds of years thereafter.Our debt to the great library is incalculable; to it we owe the Septuagint (the Greek translations of the Old Testament), the standardization of Homer and Hesiod to their final forms, and the survival of the great Greek thinkers (Plato, Aristotle) to modern times.The beginnings of modern thought -- science, philosophy, mathematics, medicine -- can all be traced to this unique collection and the people who were a part of its scholarly society.It was the home to writers and thinkers that we are familiar with (Polybius, Appollonius Rhodius) and to far more that we are not but should (Theophrastus, Neleus).And its demise ranks as one of the greatest tragedies in Western history.

In The Vanished Library, Luciano Ganfora (translated here by Martin Ryle) gives a popular account of the history of the Library, from its founding and shadowy beginnings, all the way up to its decline and destruction centuries later. But what makes this book interesting is that Ganfora resists the temptation to slip into the academic spouting of facts, figures, and theories at every opportunity.Rather, his aim is to not only show the reader the library, but to give one a feel for what it was like to _be_ there, to work among the thousands of scrolls, and to live the life of the ancient Greek scholar.His research is grounded firmly in the original sources, many of which he discusses at length in the book's appendix and several of which he quotes at length.The book sometime feels like a novel, because Ganfora frequently adopts a storyteller's tone in order to illustrate some aspect he wishes us to explore.Occasionally, Ganfora also digresses into some of the more controversial areas of the Library's history; he argues, for instance, that Caesar's sacking of Alexandria during the Roman Civil Wars did not destroy the library as many scholars insist, but rather destroyed an annex that was used to house finished scrolls meant for export across the Mediterranean (the Library being also a major source for the dissemination of literary works across the known world).But none of this detracts from the book itself.It does a very good job of introducing one to the subject of the Library and what we know about it, and makes for a rather delightful read along the way.

This is not to say that this is the best introductory book on the subject out there; in my opinion, that would have to go to Derek Adie Flower's The Shores of Wisdom.Ganfora does skip over whole areas of the Library's history that Flower does not, and goes more in depth than Ganfora on some of the academic arguments surrounding such subjects as the Library's demise and its impact on Western culture.But Ganfora's book is easier to read for the layperson, and shorter -- one could read it cover-to-cover in literally a single sitting.And I think Ganfora does a better job of evoking the sense of just what the Library was like than Flower.For this reason I would recommend this book _along with_ The Shores of Wisdom; both work as complementary pieces, with the short comings of the one made up in the other.

3-0 out of 5 stars Immensely Weird Focus
This book is astounding.I came away feeling that I knew way too much about the library at Alexandria.Canfora's passion for the subject is evident, and he seasons his account of the library and its death with personal intensity.The resultant detail is thorough and masterful.

I cannot help but wonder, though, whether it was worth it.The intense focus of so much attention on so specific a subject left me slightly uneasy, as if I had watched Canfora engaged in a perfectly moral activity, but one that was best done behind closed doors.

3-0 out of 5 stars I'm glad I didn't spend money on this
Luciano Canfora's The Vanished Library stands out as an example of how not to write a historical account.I'm not sure for whom this text was written, but it is weak.

The first half is a meandering novelesque account of events, many of which appear unconnected to the library.Canfora never really put together where he was going with the narrative.I suspect someone already familiar with the subject might have understood why some of these things were important, but my impression was that the book was meant more as a popular history.The back cover states that Canfora has merged the craft of novelist and historian, an unhappy marriage if I ever saw one.

The second half is better, covering source material, and finally providing some elusive references and staying on topic better.He goes through writings of earlier classical sources and their references to the library, comparing their works to try to find out what happened to the library.

If this review sounds confusing, it's because I found the book confusing.It meandered around, sometimes offering two page chapters on subjects that seemed to have no bearing on the topic.The pedagogic style was bad, and the reader is left wondering what the point of reading it was.One can get some useful information here, and it's an interesting enough topic.But I found the writing and analysis weak and haphazard. ... Read more

Isbn: 0520072553
Sales Rank: 391565
Subjects:  1. Alexandria    2. Alexandria (Egypt)    3. Alexandrian Library    4. Ancient - Egypt    5. Civilization, Classical    6. Egypt    7. History    8. History - General History    9. History: World    10. Libraries    11. Library & Information Science    12. To 400   


Libraries in the Ancient World
by Lionel Casson
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Hardcover (01 April, 2001)
list price: $26.00 -- our price: $26.00
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Editorial Review

The Dewey decimal system of cataloguing and its modern successors are relatively new, and they sometimes seem inadequate as ways of organizing knowledge in ever-changing fields of study. But the idea of bringing order to collections of written material is an ancient one, as Lionel Casson writes in this lucid survey of bibliophilia in the ancient Mediterranean. Amongthe earliest examples of written material that we have are lists of library holdings, clay tablets from Mesopotamia that archive commercial inventories, scholarly texts, and a surprising number of works on witchcraft and remedies against it.

Ancient libraries grew, Casson writes, by many means: by peaceful trade, as when book-hungry Romans spent extravagant sums on Greek texts made in southern Italy; by conquest, as when the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal looted the libraries of his ancient rival Babylon, carting the contents to his capital of Nineveh; and by fiat, as when the Egyptian pharaohs appropriated private collections to round out their own. Those libraries nourished the great philosophers and writers of old, shaping world culture into our own time. But, as Casson ably shows, the enemies of books are many, among them floods, fires, insects, and intolerance. As it is today, so it was in the past, and contending empires and ideologies too often expressed themselves by sacking and burning the collections of their enemies--by reason of which we have only a few of the works that engaged readers in the distant past.

Casson's slender book enhances our understanding of the role of books and their collectors in the ancient world, and bibliophiles and historians alike will find much of value in its pages. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars Archeological evidence well presented
Libraries in the ancient World is a honest introduction to the argument of book collection and text transmission in the ancient classical and pre-classical world.

It tells the story of ancient libraries from their very beginning (the royal libraries of the Ancient Near East) down to the first Christian monastic institutions of the Middle Age, focusing on the topic oflibrary, both as building and institution.
As far as the analysis of archaeological data is involved, Casson is able to build a strong argument with detail and precision of analysis: he reviews all the relevant evidence and is able to balance and present the different hypotheses and the sources of his study.
Exposition is far weaker when it comes to take into consideration the extant literary testimonies and appraise the place of libraries in the larger context of literacy and books in the Greek and Roman Civilization.

Graeco-Roman Philology is a fascinating field, since it is open to almost unending surprises.
It is also a field that can command enormous appeal as well as almost infinite boredom, depending on how it is presented.This is due to the distance - both temporal and cultural - from our world and that society.
It is natural that when we think about a library, a bookshop, a writer, a book - we ask for the help of everyday experience. A bookstore is a bookstore. A book a book... like in everyday experience. .
And yet, under the surface of apparent similarity,we come to discover a far different truth.

This truth is unendingly announcing the miracle of historical, literary, medical, philosophical, ... texts, most of them dating back about 2500 years that have been able to reach us in adventurous and often incredibleways.
The strong archaeological approach, is probably responsible for thedifficulty to present is a comprehensive analysis of libraries, books, literacy in the larger context of a far different society and the problems of text transmission in an age still far from Gutenberg.

Ancient World was different from our own (and different as well the Latin World from the Greek)
Just to name some differences that are not considered in the exposition:
- Problems in reading and spelling - contrary to our books, the ancient rolls and codices were written in almost exclusively in capital letters, and with no spacing between words. This presented insurmountable difficulties for people with low literacy and asked for far better knowledge of language and language skillsthan we have today. Besides it made text corruption far easier.
- Reading aloud - today reading conveys the idea of a quiet space and of silence. Actually one of the most astonishing differences between us and them is signalled by Augustine, when he writes in the "Confessions" that his master Ambrose (bishop of Milan) was capable to read "without emitting any sound nor moving the tongue".... that is: reading in the classical times consisted only in reading aloud... in turn the act of making a copy of a text is to be more properly described as being dictated, and libraries were not the silent sanctuaries we know today, but rather different noisy places more similar probably to modern Koranic schools.
- Spreading of illiteracy. In this, Greek and Latin world were probably different. In the west, literacy resented early of a progressive decline, that coupled with the passage from roll to codex created a momentous phenomenon of deterioration, especially in some fields (not just many technical and scientific books were lost, but as well many less read writers (it is funny that a technical innovation ended speeding the process of decadence). This phenomenon of progressive narrowing of scope was further aggravated by the spreading of illiteracy during the early Middle Age: in many mosaics of this period painters end up to represent books as closed, both because unable themselves to write and because people around them are no more able to read. Illiteracy, difficulty in text reading, all coupled with a worsening of Latin and Greek knowledge (specially in the West), had big impact on the transmission of texts.

There is also a second trait of the account I do not agree.
This is the over-simplification according to which we have a Greek and Latin Culture in total opposition to other "barbarian" (i.e. of lesser species) cultures, that contributed more or less to the decline into the Middle ages.
Actually this is not so.
And especially so for the main opposition presented: that between GreekByzantine Empire and "Eastern" cultures.
There's an implicit assumption (sometimes annoyingly made explicit) according to which Arabs erased all sign of Greek culture in the newly conquered lands - a newly presented argument for a learned and cultured West versus inferior and unsophisticated East.
Actually there are strong indications this is far from correct and that an osmosis between Greek culture and "Eastern" cultures was well established at least since the reign of emperor Justinian. Not only does the contemporary historiographer Agatia tell us the story about translations into Persian commissioned by Corsoe I, king of Persia (Historiae, B28.1), but the same king did give sanctuary to many philosophers of the School of Athens, after this pagan institution was forcibly closed by order of the emperor.
As for the Arabs, since the very beginning of their rule, there was a momentous activity of translation (at least three great waves are recorded of this phenomenon) from Greek to Arab (often through Syriac) that in turn caused a new osmosis from Arabic lands to the Byzanthine empire since the IX century and from Arab Spain and Sicily to the Latin West as far as XII Century, well before the fall of Byzantium and the looming of European Renaissance (the Salernitan School, St Tomas Aquinas,...).
We must thank all these Arab scribes, philosophers, booksellers, translators and enlightened rulers if we can enjoy today so much of the Greek literature.

One of my passion (if you did not guess already) is the history of the transmission of books - specially in the larger context of classical western culture.
If anyone does share this interest, could be interested in a few books I had the chance to read in the past about this argument:
- "The Vanished Library" by Luciano Canfora (possibly the most authoritative story of the Royal Library in Alexandria),
- "Scribes and Scholars" by L.D. Reynold & N.G. Wilson, still unsurpassed introduction to classical philology. One of the few books in which academic and poetical are not incompatible adjectives
- "Greek Thought and Arabic Culture" by Dimitri Gutas, a very interesting survey of the continuous exchanges from East to West and back from the rise of the Persian Empire to the advent of Islamism
- "A History of Reading" by Alberto Manguel, brilliant and entertaining, written by a disciple - and in the dense style -of Borges
- "A Gentle Madness.Bibliophiles Bibliomanes and the Eternal passion for books" by Basbanes, a mine of anecdotes that is both fascinating and witty

5-0 out of 5 stars In search of the roots of modern libraries.
In this amazingly complete 150-page volume, renowned author Lionel Casson, takes us on a wonderful journey of discovery of the role of libraries in the ancient world, from their origins in the Near East in 3000 BC through their evolution until the fall of Roman Byzantium in 1453 AD.
Written in a lively prose, this well-researched, fact-filled book explains when, where, why, and how the forerunners of today's modern libraries were created and developed, treating in detail topics such as:
*How did they acquire their materials?
*How were they physically organized?
*Which, if any, system of cataloguing they used?
*Who had access to their holdings?
*How they solved problems like theft and damage of their collections?
*What was their connection with the rise and fall of education?
The author also presents a concise account of the history of books from clay tablet to papyrus roll to parchment codex to our modern day volumes. He shares fascinating insights into the development of writing and the evolution of writing technology, including:
*What was the purpose of writing?
*Which topics were more commonly written about?
*Which materials were used and why?
*Who did the writing?
The best part of this book is the entertaining and charming way in which the author illustrates his exposition. By employing captivating anecdotes from sources contemporary to the facts, literary sources that have survived to this day, and archaeological finds combined with modern technology that make possible the reconstruction of ancient library buildings, he makes what would otherwise be a very boring topic feel like a true adventure.
As a bonus, the book also explains where many modern words related to libraries and books come from, and includes many drawings and pictures, which perfectly illustrate the points being made, and a thorough bibliography that is an excellent starting point for further exploration.
If you are at all interested in the history of writing, books, and libraries this pleasurable and compact volume is definitely a must-read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Library Fines Were Not 10 Cents Per Day
In less than 150 pages, Lionel Casson has written a history of libraries of the ancient world that is captivating to read. Most of the chapters are about the libraries of the Classical World from the library of Aristotle to the library of Alexandria to the libraries of Rome to the libraries of the far parts of the Empire. The reader will find out how libraries gained books, who read them, and how they were maintained. There are additional chapters on the rise of libraries in the ancient Near East, the development of the codex, and libraries after the fall of Rome.

What makes this book captivating is that each chapter is filled with anecdotes. For example, a tablet from Uruk warns that anyone who fears Anu and Antu will return the tablet to the owner the same day. In ancient times library fines were not just 10 cents per day. ... Read more

Isbn: 0300088094
Subjects:  1. Ancient - General    2. Ancient World History    3. History    4. History - General History    5. History: World    6. Libraries    7. Library & Information Science    8. Library Science (General)    9. To 400    10. History / Ancient / General   


Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome
by StephenDando-Collins Stephen Dando-Collins
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Hardcover (18 January, 2002)
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Reviews (27)

4-0 out of 5 stars Now it's the legion's turn to talk
Dando-Collins' "Caesar's Legion" is a goldmine of information about the Roman military. A vivid episode shows just how important the eagle standard was to the Roman legionaries. Notes provide further reading and explain that the "miles classicus" is the equivalent of a modern marine, the "primus pilus" of a captain, etc. Dando-Collins explains almost every mile of Caesar's adventures in Britain and Gaul.
However, the book is so densely packed with detail that within a line the legions may have traveled several hundred miles. Constant referring backwards or to the opening maps to visualize the troops' swiftly changing locations make it a difficult book to read carefully. For the military historian, occasional errors may be annoying.

Pros: Well researched
Easy prose style
Good glossary, notes, and appendix

Cons: Factual Errors
Exhausting -- packed with detail upon detail
Stretches subject to fit book length

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Read, Great experience!
I have yet to fully complete this book, as I am only halfway through and enjoying every bit of it. I am not a learned historian, and am only beginning to grasp the timeline and events of the Roman civilization.

Many who have left comments about this book have said it to be filling gaps in many parts. And because of this, you attack the author. Now tell me, would it make for an interesting book if instead of giving his best educated guess - and probably some of the best quesses to date - he had said "Now, I don't really know what happened here, so I'll just skip it. I don't know what happened here either, so I'm going to skip it as well, and leave it blank."

How would we know about the events and people of humanity's past without taking guesses? That's how we figure things out, by making educated guesses, falling on the decision that makes the most sense, because all of the information that would properly tell us what really happened isn't there! Scientists make hypothesis... sometimes they're wrong, and very few times are they actually correct. But without these educated guesses in both subjects of science and history, humanity wouldn't be at the stage it is at now.

If you are someone who criticizes this author's work, I ask you: Do you have a better explanation than the ones he offers in place of historical gaps? If you disagree with his educated guess, then why not publish your own take?

4-0 out of 5 stars Popular History well written
Well, he certainly is no Parker.And he anachronistically plays the nationality (Spain) over the citizenship (Rome); and beyond that to some organizational questions since other authorities state the legion was first raised in northern Italy. Yet, despite the arguable deficiencies, and there going beyond the 10th to a confusion over the 3rd (the three of them) and a mistake respecting the 12th, Dondo Collins has done a yeoman's job of bringing the history back to life and there with a convincing display of writing.Thoroughly enjoyed my march with the 10th, and found his "would have"s and "probably"s refreshing and educational in themselves; an historian's way of filling in the gaps if you will.He is to be commended for departing from the dry analysis of the academy and embracing the true art of History in the narrative, though we do not believe his work would have suffered if he had stuck with Roman classifications and nomenclature, at least respecting rank.Not the definitive work, but a good read and highly educational for at least the novice. ... Read more

Isbn: 0471095702
Sales Rank: 157453
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Rome    2. Ancient Rome - History    3. Army    4. Caesar, Julius    5. History    6. History - General History    7. Legion X Fretensis    8. Military - Other    9. Military History - Ancient    10. Military Science    11. Military leadership    12. Military life    13. Rome    14. Rome.    15. Science/Mathematics    16. Technology    17. World - General    18. Ancient Rome    19. Defence strategy, planning & research    20. European history: BCE to c 500 CE    21. History / World    22. Land forces & warfare    23. Military life & institutions   


by Michael Grant
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (October, 2000)
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Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Ancient spin meisters
I'm not a classicist as some of the other reviewers on this site appear to be, but as a layperson I can say that this book was pretty interesting.There are some boring parts, as others noted, but what biography does not have some boring parts?Here's what I found especially interesting:

Grant gives readers a good idea about how most of the chronicles he consulted were written from one perspective or another and thus tended to be sentimentally biased in one direction or another.Grant points out significantly that as "Westerners" we have clung most closely to the "Occidental" version of matters, rather than anything leaning toward the other side, the "Orient."He points out consistently how ancient writers who disliked Cleopatra changed facts around to disparage her, while the opposite was true of those who liked her.

The point being, it seems, that you have to take your history with a grain of salt (just as we do the news from the various modern media).Some reviewers seem to feel that Grant himself is slightly biased, in Cleopatra's favor, but as long as we're aware of it, we can perhaps discern the bias and read other viewpoints to get a well-rounded sense of what actually occurred.

The other interesting point was how many people, mostly men presumably, died during these ancient wars.And how little their deaths accounted for anything.In other words, life was a lot cheaper then than today.In Cleopatra's time, only the top dogs had the sense of individual rights that most of us have today.Is that progress?

Grant's book, of course, is thoroughly documented for those wishing to do further investigation.


3-0 out of 5 stars Pretty Dry
It's the splashiest period of all ancient history... a near Jerry Springer opera of lust, betrayal, and tawdry affairs.And yet, Michael Grant makes it about as dull as he possibly can.

He presents a very factual and well-researched account, though I take exception to several of his assertions and theories, including the one where he asserts that Octavian wanted Cleopatra to commit suicide because he was afraid the Romans would want to free her as they did her sister Arsinoe.Arsinoe was just one random Egyptian princess who defied Julius Caesar.Cleopatra was the occidental temptress who had ensnared and ruined two of Rome's best men.She was probably the most vilified and hated of all Rome's enemies in history, for with Cleopatra, it was intensely personal.The very idea that the bloodthirsty Romans would have a sudden sentimental streak towards her is pretty laughable.

But on the whole, his theories are soundly researched and well justified, even when I disagree with them.The book has some lovely portraits and a more in depth examination of Cleopatra's forebearers than is usually presented in her biographies.Moreover, he has an excellent perspective on the supposed 'inevitability' of Cleopatra's loss, and how the world may well have been different had things gone another way.

It's a reasonable and scholarly work that makes a fine addition to my collection.If you're looking for something to move you, you may prefer Margaret George's "The Memoirs of Cleopatra".

4-0 out of 5 stars Probably the best biography on Cleo
Cleopatra is a fascinating figure... renowned as a patron of arts and learning, a gifted linguist, and a canny politicians, she is too often remembered as a sex kitten.Grant cuts thru the myths, pro- and anti propaganda to deliver what is probably the best biography on Cleopatra.Writen by one of the marquee lights of classical history, the book is written in academic style, although for the most part it is highly readable.To be honest, I found the first preliminary chapters to be somewhat slow going, but once the story begins it takes off like a grand soap opera.Not as splashy as some other works on the great queen, this is *the* place to go for a detailed, comprehensive look at Cleopatra. ... Read more

Isbn: 184212031X
Sales Rank: 685638
Subjects:  1. 332-30 B.C.    2. Ancient - Egypt    3. Biography    4. Biography / Autobiography    5. Cleopatra,    6. Egypt    7. Historical - General    8. History    9. History: World    10. Queen of Egypt,    11. Queens    12. Royalty    13. Women    14. d. 30 B.C    15. African history: BCE to c 500 CE    16. Ancient Egypt    17. Biography: historical    18. Biography: royalty    19. Cleopatra   


Livia: First Lady of Imperial Rome
by Anthony Barrett
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Hardcover (September, 2002)
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Rome's First Imperial Matron
The book offers a unique insight into the life of Rome's first imperial matron, Livia. Reviewing narrative and archeological evidence, Anthony Barret succeeds in showing how Livia was perceived by her contemporaries in light of Augustus' new imperial institutions. Because there's so little information on who Livia really was as a person, Mr. Barret's analysis starts becoming rather speculative when it comes to Livia's private dispositions. The book is thus more of a review of Livia's persona as opposed to her actual beliefs and behavior behind closed doors. At the very least, he succeeds in dispelling many of the anecdotal stories of her as a ambitious master schemer and regicite. These negative qualities are mostly the product of Tacitus' biased accounts which were so wonderfully crafted into Robert Graves' "I, Claudius" books. At the very least, one gets a good picture of the political and social environment Livia found herself in when she married Augustus and how it affected her public image. The book is easy to read for the casual reader but detailed enough for the scholar.I strongly recommend this work.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Real Livia
Anthony Barrett has written another excellent biography. Livia is an historical figure who has been much maligned over time and effectively turned into a ruthless serial killer in order to see her son Tiberius as emperor. Reality is a different matter and Livia emerges as an intelligent, beautiful and caring woman whose life was generally restrained by having no official political position. As Augustus' wife, she could exert a great deal of influence but until he death, when she was adopted into the Julian gens and given the title name Augusta. Mr. Barrett has examined Livia's life in detail as the wife of the princeps, the mother of the second emperor, her role as a protector and benefactor and her public and her private life.

Among the bits of interesting information I found was that Livia gave an allowance to the Elder and Younger Julia's after they had been sent into exile that lasted for the rest of their lives. Also of interest was Livia's healthy habits, which included drinking red wine each day, and that she underwent grief management after the death of her son Drusus..

Mr. Barrett separates some more specialized discussions in the appendix, dealing with such topics as Livia's name and birth to Livia's relations with Agrippina the Elder etc. The book is invaluable for the detailed listing of sources of information about Livia, including inscriptions, sculptures, books and articles and a list of abbreviations of ancient authors and their individual works. In short, this is as complete a biography of Livia that we will have in English. ... Read more

Isbn: 0300091966
Sales Rank: 496912
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Rome    2. Ancient Rome - History    3. Augustus, 30 B.C.-14 A.D    4. Biography    5. Biography / Autobiography    6. Empress, consort of Augustus,    7. Empress, consort of Augustus, Emperor of Rome,    8. Empresses    9. Historical - General    10. History    11. History: World    12. Livia,    13. Rome    14. Women    15. Women - Ancient History    16. ca. 58 B.C.-29 A.D    17. Biography & Autobiography / Historical   


Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire : From the First Century A.D. to the Third
by Edward N. Luttwak J. F. Gilliam
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 January, 1979)
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Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great explanation how a world empire defended its citizens
I do not agree that this book is only for specialists. I am of the opinion that it is a book for history lovers. And, moreover, it is for any person who wishes to understand how a highly developed society managed to defend its way of living. It most valuable because it depicts the success of the Roman system in the first two centuries of our era. The Third Century depicts the problem of a World power which has began its decline.
Reading the book you understand the Roman system, and you learn how a society must be prepared for selfdefense, and even for attack, if it wants to survive.
If you translate this book into the idiom of the early XXIst Century, you realize how our declining Western Civilization must behave in order to protect itself, and its inhabitants, from its external -and even internal- threats.

5-0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening analysis
This book is a very interesting analysis for everybody who wants to know more about the strategy of the Roman Empire. While also very accessible to non-experts, even experts or people who have read a lot about Rome will learn a lot and see things a new way.

Mr. Luttwak splits the time of the roman empire into time periods of same strategy. This strategy changed a few times through the centuries.

One of the most interesting points is that the Roman Empire did have trouble expanding its Empire beyond the size of Augustus Principate because the roman army could not apply its full military force in the border areas because of the evironment there. The roman army's core was the heavy infanterie and with this the legions were strong and hard to stop or defeat but they were also slow. Therefore in areas where enemies had something to defend (cities, fields, etc), the power of the roman army (also using their siege capabilities) was very high and therefore it could apply this potential military might either in direct military success or into political power which then helped the romans to create client states around their empire which served as buffer states against any potential enemy attack.

But the forested middle Europe, the desert areas of Arabia and North Africa and the plains of Iran and Ukraine were wide and the people who lived there did not depend on a city structure which they needed to defend. Therefore they could avoid a direct confrontation with the Romans (which was their main strength) and apply their way of fighting to the Romans. The Roman army could still penetrate these areas, but only under above average costs and had trouble keeping this area under their control. Examples of this are the losses of Crassus against the Parthians and the losses of 3 legions against the Cherusci in the Teutoburg Forest.

Very good book!

4-0 out of 5 stars Ancient history for current events
Although much of this book may be at a level of specificity of interest only to Roman history buffs, Luttwak's assessments of the Roman Empire's strategic strengths and weaknesses has much relevance to the modern United States, which occupies an historical position not unlike Rome's at the beginning of the Empire.For example, issues such as the efficient use of a relatively small professional army, or the maintenance of client states, are directly relevant to the modern world.Each section begins with a sufficiently adequate historical summary that readers not yet familiar with Roman history will not be lost. ... Read more

Isbn: 0801821584
Sales Rank: 168940
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Rome    2. Army    3. History    4. History - Military / War    5. History: World    6. Military - General    7. Military Science    8. Military history, Ancient    9. Rome    10. Strategy    11. History / Ancient / General   


What the Bible really says about Slavery: This and other information on the issue of Slavery as it applies to History and Religion (Revised second edition)
by Elreta Dodds Noreta Dennard
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 January, 2000)
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Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars An excellent piece of work
In reading "What the Bible really says about Slavery" I would also conclude is a must read.If you know anything about Bible, it is a true fact that Paul talks about this in Ephesians and also mentions forgiving a slave in the book of Philemon.Ms. Dodds is an excellent writer and is addressing essential and pertinent data for today.Our God being the same yesterday, today, and forever let's know that nothing has changed.I have copies of two of her books, with one being sold out, and I must say that they are very interesting.Subsequently, a must have for your library.Since I am currently attending Ashland University, these books are apart of my theological collections.Excellent work Elreta, Noreta keep us informed!

1-0 out of 5 stars "The Bible never says anything against slavery"
This is a slim book, and can be read in a couple of hours. At that, it's over a hundred times too long. The relavent information could have been put on a post card. On page 61 it says ". . . the word of God (the Bible) never really says anything per se against the institution of slavery in general . . .." Title addressed, we can all get on with our lives and remember this when some politician starts talking about America being a Christian nation. The rest of the book is an attempt to rationalize this fact, and to claim that no matter how bad Christian slaveholders were, Muslem ones were worse.
If Ms. Dodds has any qualifications for writing this other than being Black and Protestant, she carefully conceals this from the reader. In fact discusing Satan she says he "was once named Lucifer by God, which in the Hebrew means "day star" or "Angel of light" . . .." Problem is that Lucifer means nothing "in the Hebrew," it's a Latin word. If Ms. Dodds can't tell Latin from Hebrew, and doesn't bother looking it up, I don't think she's qualified to write Christian Apologetics.
Don't waste time or money on this one. ... Read more

Isbn: 0966039017
Sales Rank: 1584804
Subjects:  1. Bible - CriticismInterpretation - General    2. Bible - Topical Studies    3. Religion - Commentaries / Reference    4. Slavery    5. Sociology   


Pontius Pilate : The Biography of an Invented Man
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (06 March, 2001)
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Editorial Review

Pontius Pilate, by Ann Wroe, is beautifully written, imaginatively researched, and intricately structured. Most importantly, it provides readers with a valuable emotional experience: a chance to rediscover and redeem Pilate's famous question--"What is truth?"--in a spirit of humility and hope. A handful of small coins and one inscribed stone are the only physical evidence that Pilate existed. All of the textual sources that mention Pilate, Wroe notes, are "so wrapped in propaganda or agendas that it is difficult to detect what, if anything, may be true." But since Pilate "stands at the center of the Christian story and God's plan of redemption," Wroe persevered in her efforts to discern the profile of his life. "Without his climactic judgment of Jesus, the world would not have been saved. To have a faceless bureaucrat at the heart of all this drama was unacceptable: something had to be made of this man." The book's bold ambition, however, is not blind. "This is not a search for the 'real' Pilate," Wroe admits. "At best, all we have are glints and hypotheses." To learn about her subject, Wroe had to sacrifice most of her sympathetic impulses and shift her concentration to the elements of Roman life that she did not understand. And oddly enough, the passages in which Wroe describes her ignorance most clearly are where we begin to glimpse "a man actually walking on a marble floor in Caesarea, feeling his shoes pinch, clicking his fingers for a slave, while clouds of lasting infamy gather overhead." ... Read more

Reviews (25)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Pilate of myth, and of reasonable speculation
Ms. Wroe is drawn to history that is both meaningful and concealed.Her book, A Fool and His Money, set out to explore a the dynamics of a treasure lost by an addled Medieval craftsman.She has little data, and is forced to fill the void with historically plausible speculation.Pilate, of course, is a much more important subject. Here she is drawn to the Pilate of "symbols," and myths and plays -- ancient, medieval and modern -- as opposed to the actual Roman governor that washed his hands of the condemnation of Christ to a death by the Crucifixion.With Pilate, though, the story is even more perplexing.Initially Pilate was treated with some degree of sympathy, particularly when the Chuch was eager to absolve him and accuse the Jews.After the Edict of Milan, however, when Christianity has become more established and Judaism less a threat, Pilate stands accused, and in the Nicene Creed he alone is mentioned -- "who (Jesus Christ) suffered and died under Pontius Pilate."
This is a well-written, fascinating reconstruction of Pilate.In fact, this is a superb work for enhancing one's understanding of Rome under Tiberius.Moreover,there are some passages between these covers where Ms. Wroe throws away in passing more intriguing scholarship than many books manage to contain.That said, I do wish she had spent less time unraveling every play about Pilate.To be sure, the plays have their status in this account, since the combination of speculation and propaganda is all we seem to have ever had on Pilate.Nonetheless, I prefer Ms. Wroe when she is doggedly shifting through the Gospels, or Jospheus, or other, more dated historical sources, bringing them to life with her remarkable eye and ear and a very keen intelligence.

2-0 out of 5 stars It's A Struggle.
Some of it is brilliant and some of it is mind-numbing. I understand the author's premise of using the environment to define and reveal someone we know little about, but the effort is unfocused, irregular, and haphazard at times. It's not a pleasure to read, it's more like homework.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ann Wroe brings History to Life
Not long after Noah's Flood, when I was attending a boys' boarding school in Western Canada, it was still fashionable to teach history by rote as a series of names, dates and events. I still have the cadence of "William the first, William the second, Henry the first and Steeeeeven" permanently burned into my memory banks. It is little wonder that history was one of the subjects that I managed to fail so miserably that once I managed to score a minus ten on a test paper (I accidentally spelled my name wrong).

Real history is about people and how they interact, and the events they are involved in. It is fascinating when you can climb inside the mind of historical protagonists and examine how and why they did what they did. Over time, society elects to paint some folks as good guys, and some folks as bad guys, and society as a whole tends to accept those characterizations, and move on.

Some bad guys are in the big leagues. These might include Attilla the Hun, Ivan the Terrible, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and, of course, Pontius Pilate. Add in Al Capone, Ted Bundy and, perhaps most recently Scott Peterson, and you hold a handful of identities that folks will agree are "bad". What folks will usually overlook is the fact that these individuals are also "people", and a careful examination of their lives and motivations will often reveal a far more complex set of motivations than the simplistic ones that have distilled with the passing of time over their histories.

Pontius Pilate is, to Christans st least, in the biggest of the big leagues. Tiny children learn his name as the guy who condemned Jesus to death. Members of some Christian denominations recite the creed weekly that includes his name in terms of "..suffered under Pontius Pilate..", and all Christians know his name is in the New Testament. Actually it only appears in 8 verses of Matthew, 10 of Mark, 12 of Luke, 19 of John, and 3 of Acts. Not a lot of press for trying to find out a lot about the man.

Ann Wroe has not let this stop her. As a true historian, she has examined the time in which he lived, the type of person he would have been, his ancestry, his probably training for the job, his probable daily routine. Then she adds in certain known historical events in his ten year term of service, including the notorious carrying of the Roman Standards into the Temple courtyard on his first arrival, and his ultimate capitulation rather than slaughter all the Jews who objected to the graven images which they considered them to be in that most holy place.

Ms. Wroe builds daily life, the process of dealing with the interaction with the Sanhedrin, Annas and Caiaphas, and Jesus himself (and later even with Cornelius at Caesarea). She describes the hazards of communicating with Tiberius, the Emperor, who by that stage was in declining health -- both physical and mental. You feel drawn into every moment of the lifestyle of the time -- you become a part of living in the history.

When it comes to the trial, instead of the few verses of the New Testament that we have had to live with for a lifetime, she offers an examination of every aspect of the process of the trial. Ms. Wroe considers the location, who would be present, how the trial would be conducted, when Pilate and Jesus might have adjourned to an antechamber, and then returned, who would probably have accompanied them during the adjournment, the position of Pilate's wife in the process.

In addition she includes extended quotations from several passion plays from various time periods, starting from as early as the 4th century, through the 19th century, showing how different societies have interpreted possible reactions that Pilate (and others) may have had to the events.

It is important to understand that this is not a religious text. It is a historical text, and as such it is eminently readable. It actually reads almost like a novel, where you have read other novels involving some of the main characters before, and are eager to read another adventure with them, or an expanded text of a short story you read once. I heartlily recommend this to any reader of any age. ... Read more

Isbn: 0375753974
Subjects:  1. 1st cent    2. Bible    3. Bible - Biography - New Testament    4. Bible.    5. Biography    6. Biography & Autobiography    7. Biography / Autobiography    8. Biography/Autobiography    9. Gospels    10. N.T    11. N.T.    12. Pilate, Pontius,    13. Religious    14. Biography & Autobiography / Religious    15. Pilate, Pontius   


Memoirs of Pontius Pilate : A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (27 February, 2001)
list price: $10.00 -- our price: $8.00
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Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars An interesting interpretation from a different viewpoint.
This author has come up with a unique concept by novelizing the life of the historical Christ and then telling the story from the point of view of a relatively minor character, Pontius Pilate.As the title suggests, the novel is written in the form of memoirs as Pilate nears the end of his life.Pilate tries to come to some resolution of his own involvement in Jesus's death by reviewing Jesus's life, beginning with the unusual circumstances of his birth and continuing to the genesis of Christianity after his death.The author utilizes plain, accessible language to tell a story which includes a surprising amount of humor.You may not feel sorry for Pilate by the end, but you should at least wonder if perhaps there is more to the story of Jesus than we will ever know.An engaging, thought-provoking book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The biography Pilate himself might have written.
Although it is a work of fiction, "Memoirs of Pontius Pilate" comes close to deserving a place in the history section.Much of this well-researched book is devoted to Pilate's own biography of Jesus; nevertheless, there is enough supplementary material here to leave the reader a bit more knowledgeable on the history of Roman Palestine.

Mills' Pilate begins with an introductory discussion about the Jewish people (written from a perspective that feels authentically Roman).The rest of the book traces the life of Jesus from the Nativity to the Crucifixion, after which the exiled former procurator adds his own views on the events that he had just described.Throughout the work Pilate remains sufficiently sceptical of the miracles and odd "coincidences" that his spies report to him, but the reader soon realises that this Roman is at least open to the possibility that the "strange carpenter" may actually be who he says he is.

A word of caution, though:readers who insist on seeing a cruel, heartless tyrant of a governor in this book will be sorely disappointed.Though the historical Pontius Pilatus may have been a man who truly deserves the wicked reputation he is cursed with today, would he have written about himself that way?In all certainty he would have described actions we now see as barbaric within the context of his own culture and upbringing; that is, he would have said that he was simply "doing his job" when he mowed down the Samartians on Mount Gerizim and threatened to hack a crown of Jews to death in Caesarea.Out of his love for Rome, his loyalty to Caesar and perhaps even his own strange form of concern for the well-being of the Jewish people, he did what he felt he had to do.

I am no relativist.From the very little that we know about Pilate, there is no doubt that he was -- to put it bluntly -- a very bad man.But it would be ridiculous to assume that he would have seen himself as anything other than a devoted public servant who tried to do his duty well.

5-0 out of 5 stars From a different prospective
I found this book to be very enjoyable.It told a very well known story from a diffenent prospective.It was easy reading and followed events in a chronological order which made the story flow much better than reading disjointed gospels.It made me see those historic events in a differnt light. ... Read more

Isbn: 0345443500
Sales Rank: 246986
Subjects:  1. Fiction    2. Fiction - Religious    3. Religious - Biblical    4. Religious - General    5. Fiction / Religious    6. Reading Group Guide   


Letters of Pontius Pilate: Written During His Governorship of Judea to His Friend Seneca in Rome
by W. P. Crozier
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 July, 2002)
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Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars Take note:this is a work of fiction
When I first saw this book I had to ask, why have I never heard of this before? It should be very famous.When I began reading it, I concluded immediately that it must be a work of fiction.A quick web search confirms that W. P. Crozier was a reporter for the Guardian newspaper in England.This book is identified on the Guardian website as his first "novel," written in 1928.

This is a short story in letter form. It is anaccount of a self-absorbed, gossipy, impulsive andpetty-minded provincial governor--intent on gaining credit for himself and possible advancement in the Roman hierarchy. To him Jesus was simply a minor problem: another of those troublesome people whom a good Roman governor had to dispose of in order to maintain provincial peace. Who knows?That may be an accurate rendering of Pilate's character and personality. The story has some interest in depicting in personal terms the contendinginterests that a Roman governor had to deal with in Jesus' time: the two neighboring king Herods; the prerogatives and rivalries of the Jewish priestly class; Rome's interest in maintaining order in the province; and the financial requirements of maintaining order and building public works.

5-0 out of 5 stars Captivating! Enormously interesting!
This is a non-fiction collection of thirty-three letters written by Pontius Pilate over a four year period to his friend, the Roman senator Lucius Seneca. Seneca would eventually become tutor to the emperor Nero.

The friendship between Pilate and Seneca would last for many years, but Pilate only wrote to his friend during the first half of his administration. Many scholars believe that the disaster handling the Christ affair "would spoil him into indecency" and so it is not with surprising that he found it improper or unpalatable to carry on correspondence with a man, though a friend, who had the Caesar's ear.

The letters reveal much about the Pilate's personality and the challenges that he faced with the persistent difficulties that the Jewish populace presented from the rising unrest amongst their ranks. Many New Testament figures are written in these pages, such as Caiaphas, John the Baptist and Herod, but his encounter with Jesus, the emerging King of the Jews, would affect him with a regret and forlorness that would taint him for the rest of his administration and, we can assume, for the rest of his life.

This book, while not attempting to expand on the history of the Roman Empire or the origins of the Christian Era, offers a very personal view of the occurences of the region from the man who possessed an excellent ability for observation and communication. What makes Pilate unique, and which still captivates the imagination of mortals, is that he encountered the single most influential human being to have ever lived, but played a part in his death. This book allows the reader to discover how he handled the grief and perplexion that was the aftermath.

This is a terrific find, and one that I will treasure for many years. I have purchased several copies for friends and family, and I still get questions about where I purchased the book.

If one wishes to get a good picture of what Judea and the Roman Empire was like in the first century, then this is the book to get. Its like none other. ... Read more

Isbn: 1589639480
Sales Rank: 652688
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Rome    2. Biography & Autobiography    3. Biography / Autobiography    4. Biography/Autobiography    5. Historical - General   


Acts of Pilate: And Ancient Records Recorded by Contemporaries of Jesus Christ Regarding the Facts Concerning His Birth, Death, Resurrection
by W. D. Mahan W. D. Manan M. McIntosh T. H. Twyman
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 November, 1997)
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Reviews (4)

1-0 out of 5 stars 'Milk the Christians' time is here again
This book is a notorious fraud from the 19th century.

It pretends to be contemporary accounts of the death etc of Jesus.Actually they're all bogus.The editor expanded this book into the 'Archko' volume, but was caught because he created some of his 'ancient' documents by copying verbatim from the novel 'Ben Hur'.

The motive appears to have been money, and the intended victims rural Christians with no way to check his claims.

Full details are available in E.J.Goodspeed's "Strange New Gospels", which is online.In the late 19th century a fair few people had a go at making money this way, targetting different groups.Mahan's effort is the only one still circulating, but Goodspeed details a collection of them.

3-0 out of 5 stars Another "Hidden in the Vatican Library" Story
It is too bad that the Reverend W.D. Mahan really did not shelter a Mr Whydaman in the winter of 1856 who really had seen the documents found in Mahan's book. It would be wonderful to read an authentic interview of the Three Shepherds. It would be wonderful to read an authentic report of Pontius Pilate to Caesar. And it would be wonderful to read the report of Caiaphas concerning the execution of Jesus... if these documents were authentic.

_The Acts of Pilate_ begins with transcripts of letters between Mahan and Whydaman wherein Mahan pretends to procure transcripts of copies from the Vatican. Mahan did his homework fairly well. He includes some authentic details. However there are some flaws as noted by Edgar John Goodspeed in _Strange New Gospels_ (pub 1931).

5-0 out of 5 stars Pilate wept! Caiaphas sees resurrected Jesus!
These ancient documents, preserved for hundreds of years in their original language deep within the Vatican, corroborate the Biblical accounts of Jesus' trial, crucifiction, and resurrection.

Some of the writings are straightforward reports of the period, like Josephus' writings. The author takes enormoous pains to establish their authenticity in traceable steps as well as his credentials for finding and publishing these documents.

Some of the accounts are truly astonishing. Pilate wrote a full description of the "Jesus issue" to Ceaser. He describes how he wept at the sight of bent and broken Joseph of Arimethia ascending Pilate's steps, stained with the blood of Jesus, asking for the dead body of his friend and Lord.

Caiaphas gives two accounts of his actions to the Sanhedrin. In the latter, he describes himself locked in his bedroom, studying the scriptures for prophecies concerning the Messiah. Suddenly, the resurrected Jesus appears before him and offers him salvation if he would but believe in the risen son of God. Caiaphas is convicted and forlorn. He resigns his position as high priest, unable to perform its functions with honor and integrity. Was he saved at the last?

Pilate writes to Ceaser that he had dispatched 100 Roman soldiers to stand guard over Jesus' tomb. "The very event they were supposed to prevent," he said, "they became witnesses to." What a profound illustration!

These accounts are compelling, believable,and illuminating of the Biblical accounts. The book is fun and edifying to read. ... Read more

Isbn: 0892281278
Sales Rank: 291745
Subjects:  1. 1st cent    2. Apocryphal and legendary liter    3. Apocryphal and legendary literature    4. Christianity - Theology - Christology    5. Jesus Christ    6. Pilate, Pontius,    7. Religion    8. Religion - General    9. Trial    10. Pilate, Pontius   


I, Claudius
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
DVD (15 August, 2000)
list price: $89.99 -- our price: $71.99
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Editorial Review

This superbly acted, mordantly funny romp through 70 years or so of Roman history is one of the best-loved miniseries ever made, and deservedly so. Derek Jacobi plays Roman Emperor Claudius, who reflects in old age on his life and his remarkable family, giving us a history lesson that's unlike anything you learned in school.

The story begins in 24 B.C. during the reign of Augustus Caesar, Rome'sfirst emperor, and ends in A.D. 54 with Nero on the throne. In between, I, Claudius details the scheming, murder, madness, and lust that passed for politics in the early years of the Pax Romana. The biggest worm in the Roman apple is Augustus's wife, Livia (the superb Siân Phillips), whose single-minded pursuit of power shapes the destiny of the Empire. With a carefully planted rumor here and a poisoned fig there, she gradually maneuvers her son, Tiberius, toward the throne, creating an atmosphere of suspicion and treachery that starts Rome on its helter-skelter slide into bloody chaos. Phillips somehow makes us understand this extraordinarily wicked woman. As she ages and her carefully wrought webs begin to unravel, it becomes clear that Livia has been as thoroughly poisoned by her own ambition as her victims were by her carefully prepared meals.

Further acting honors go to George Baker as Tiberius, who resists but eventually succumbs to the destiny forced upon him by his mother, and to John Hurt as a hilarious and absolutely terrifying Caligula. In one breathtakingly tense scene, the mad Emperor performs a dance in drag, then asks Claudius to critique it, perfectly capturing the horror of a world where one wrong word means death, or worse. Jacobi is the perfect Claudius, hiding his intelligence behind a crippling stammer and shuffling around the edges of events--until he finds himself pulled to the very center. His wry comments give shape to the tangled story of his family and help the audience make sense of a dauntingly complex cast of characters.

I, Claudius might seem a little studio-bound to viewers brought up on more recent big-budget costume dramas, but the topnotch cast and the incident-filled plot are more than enough to hold the attention through almost 11 hours of gripping, deliciously wicked Roman follies. This boxed set also includes a documentary entitled "The Epic That Never Was," about Alexander Korda's failed attempt to film I, Claudius in 1937. The film, directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Charles Laughton as Claudius and Merle Oberon as Messalina, was abandoned unfinished, and it remains one of Hollywood's great lost movies. --Simon Leake ... Read more


  • Color
  • Box set
Reviews (144)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Sopranos ofAncient Rome
I have mixed feelings about this series. I didn't purchase a boxed set but recently collected the series in 13 separate episodes as an extra from a leading Greek daily newspaper. With the initial episode disc the paper had a special glossy four-page supplement describing the historical setting and the main dramatis personae as well as a very useful imperial family chart. This made up for the lack of supplementary disc material. The quality was excellent with no signs of ghosting, it could have been shot in 2000,the colour definition was so good. Sound quality was also good. Unfortunately I couldn't get rid of the Greek subtitles ,which happily were in relatively small type but still annoying.

I read the two-volume Robert Graves novel in the paperback Penguin classic series about twenty years ago. The book had its dull moment as well as the series. I agree the acting was superb with some of Britain's finest, especially the villainess Livia, wife of Caesar Augustus and grandmother of Claudius. even the numerous child actors and actresses performed very well indeed. I suppose my only snide comment on the other wise brilliant acting is that ancient Romans are portrayed as middle-class Brits where even Caesar Augustus has a home counties accent.

While the studio sets are lavish and convincing it is seemingly a low budget production. In the TV series not once do you see a Roman mounted on a horse or even an ass. Even crowds at the arena are only hinted at by their noise. This is a pity because some epic action is described in the book such as the massacre of Varo's legions in the forests of barbaric Germany. I hope that somebody, maybe Peter Jackson or a director with similar skills, decides to produce an updated theatre version bringing in some of the action described in the book but missing from the series. Nevertheless, anyone with an interest in Roman history at a critical point in time will enjoy this aging series and eve the great unwashed who relished the TV series , "The Sopranos", may understand what is going on, although they may be confused about who is who and who is related to whom.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic production, classy package
A classic TV production from the BBC, "I, Claudius" based on Robert Graves novels first appeared in 1976. Derek Jacobi appears as Claudius who ascends to power in Rome through the treachery of Livia (Sian Phillips)the scheming wife of Augustus (Brian Blessed). The top notch cast, script by writer Jack Pulman and direction by Herbert Wise make this one of the finest and most memorable productions aired during the 70's.

The transfer looks fine but the source videotape is nearly 30 years old. The videotape has faded significantly with age and Image and Fox used the best available source tape that they had the rights to for this production. The mono sound is muffled and probably should have been cleaned up and the signal boosted but, overall, the quality of the DVDs are actually pretty good (by comparsion take a look at the 80's version of "The Twilight Zone" which had an even worse original source tape). I actually don't feel as if the image quality deserves 1 star although it could have been improved along with sound. Each DVD has three episodes of the series. I can't compare it to the UK re-release for image quality but keep in mind that there's only so much restoration that can be done to videotape this old. Unfortunately, the BBC didn't have the budget to shoot the series on film.

The last disc includes a 71 minute documentary produced in 1965 about the ill fated production of "I Claudius" that producer Alexander Korda started (with Josef Von Sternberg at the helm as director)in 1937. The beautiful production design for the unfinished film isevident in every frame. There's a significant amount of footage that survived (and that Von Sternberg cut as he was shooting the film)and that's presented. Charles Laughton's performance has its moments but it's clear he didn't quite have a handle on the role. Reportedly, he had a number of tandrums during production and Korda used the car accident of Merle Oberon as an excuse to cancel the film despite the large sum of money already spent on the film. What's really fun about the footage is that it's not as fragmentary as one would suspect. Hosted and narrated by the late Dirk Bogarde and featuring interviews surviving cast & crew, it's a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of what could have been a classic film if not for the misfortunes of the production.

Despite the minor drawbacks of the source videotape, this production is worthwhile to view. It's a pity that we don't have more extras with this set but what we do get is magnificent.

5-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant portrayal of intrigue in the Roman Empire...
Think history is boring? Think again! I Claudius is proof that an educational film can also be one of the most popular and entertaining series ever produced. A 1976 mini-series, starring many of the best known theatrical performers of its day, I Claudius is one of, if not the, greatest productions chronicling the history of the Roman Empire. Covering the period from the later years of Augustus's rule as the first emperor of Rome to the death of Emperor Claudius, I Claudius takes a look at the social and political underpinnings and developments of the Roman Empire through the eyes of Claudius, an often overlooked member of the emperor's family. An epic in the true sense of the word, I Claudius should be on every film buff's viewing list...

A young male connected to the family line of Emperor Augustus, Claudius suffers from a strange limp and an odd stutter which make him appear to be a simple-minded youth. But Claudius maintains a keen intellect, and he observes the events around him with meticulous precision. As the end of Augustus's long reign as emperor nears its end, the ruler is in desperate search of an heir. But what he doesn't know is that his wife Livia is determined to see her son from a previous marriage, Tiberius, ascend to the throne. As such, Livia will stop at nothing to murder and ruin those who stand in the way - such as far more noble and deserving heir Germanicus. Through drowning, poisoning, and less subtle means, she insures Tiberius becomes the next in the line of succession...

Meanwhile, Claudius observes from the shadows as the ambitious Sejanus (Patrick Stewart) conspires to obtain the throne and the infamous Caligula rises to power. When his relative is murdered because of his terrible reign of insanity, Claudius is thrust upon the throne, and he attempts to rule with a firm hand of justice and restore the republic to its rightful place of power...

Wrought with suspense, I Claudius will make its viewers question how any human survived the era known as the ancient Roman Empire. The murders, double-crossings, and various affairs seem to be drawn from a fictional paperback found on drugstore shelves - not in the pages of a history book. But I Claudius stays true to the written account of Roman Emperor Claudius who wrote his memoirs during the few years of his reign as the supreme leader of the greatest empire ever to exist on Earth. The result is a story more intriguing than any book or film since produced...

With superb theatrical performances by the entire cast (including Patrick Stewart as Sejanus), I Claudius is an engrossing storyline about the true-to-life people and events that shaped the history of ancient Rome. Like the popular prime-time soap opera Dallas, viewers are drawn to the intrigue surrounding the various characters without even realizing they're learning history in the process! Given its historical accuracy, brilliant dialogue, and ingenious performances, I Claudius ranks as a definite must-see series of films. In fact, one of the top five best of all time...

The DVD Report ... Read more

Asin: B00004U12X
Subjects:  1. Feature Film-drama   


Romans and Barbarians: Four Views from the Empire's Edge, 1st Century Ad
by Derek Williams
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Hardcover (01 February, 1999)
list price: $27.95
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Editorial Review

In 9 B.C. the Roman general Drusus, brother of Tiberius and stepson of the emperor Augustus, encountered a towering German priestess who "cursed him and prophesied doom." Months later Drusus met that doom, dying of an infected wound in a remote outpost on the Elbe River "on a night of shooting stars, to the howling of forest wolves." His fate was shared by many Romans who marched north to encounter the Germanic and Celtic peoples of northern Europe, shadowy presences on the Roman frontier, the elusive and dangerous other. Derek Williams, an English journalist and historian, does a fine job of reconstructing Roman attitudes toward those people of the far frontier, basing his narrative on literary descriptions from the poet Ovid, the historian Tacitus, and other contemporary Roman chroniclers. (He recognizes the limitations of this one-sided literature, for the barbarians had no system of writing by which they could leave behind their view of the matter of Rome.) Among the high points of Williams's well-written discussion is an analysis of Trajan's Column, the monument in the Roman Forum that details, frieze by frieze, the Roman conquest of Dacia, or what is now Romania; Williams compares the column with German monuments, most from the 19th century, and with other testimonials to Trajan's campaigns. This is a vigorous, imaginative, and nicely evenhanded reading of ancient history. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars a rare find
Interesting approach to history and the author has complete command of his subject. Fills in gaps in common historical knowledge. He is a scholarwho writes and communicates well. If only there were more like him. Don't waste time reading reviews, buy this book and enjoy yourself.

3-0 out of 5 stars A good read of Rome
Rome was surrounded by barbarian tribes as these tribes have not left us their written history they have become what the writer quite correctly states as prehistoric. Most of what we know of these people is what the Romans wrote about them. Which is not much! This is a problem as its very hard to write a study from Roamn literature about Roman and the Barbarians because there is so little written about it.

The book as a whole is certainly a good read. I found very interesting in particular, Ovid on the Black Sea and his life in a small town on the edge of the Roman empire. It was reallyinteresting and I hope the writer writes some more about Ovid life there in a future book.

However unfortunately after reading this book I did not feel that I had learnt much about these barbarian tribes. A little about what Romans thought about these people. Overall I have not found anything new that has not been presented before in other books.

The writer also subscribes to a popular view that I don't, that the Roman never fell but evolved into medieval society.

5-0 out of 5 stars Previous review- wrong # stars
In was my intention to give this book 5 stars with my previous review. ... Read more

Isbn: 0312199589
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Rome    2. Ancient Rome - History    3. Civilization    4. Europe    5. Flavians, 69-96    6. History    7. History: World    8. Roman influences    9. Rome    10. Sources    11. The five Julii, 30 B.C-68 A.D.   

At Empire`s Edge: Exploring Rome`s Egyptian Frontier
by Robert Jackson
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Hardcover (01 April, 2002)
list price: $42.50 -- our price: $42.50
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book.
I'm basing my next vacation in the Western desert to include a few oasis. He keeps the gritty details to a comfortable level, which makes the reading pleasant.

5-0 out of 5 stars On the edge
Here is a splendid recounting of histories (the old and the older) and anecdotes of explorations in the deserts and oases of what was once Roman Egypt. In addition, credible summations of existing research and excavations provide the reader with a distanced understanding of some curious spaces. The images in this book, all black and white, seem both numinous and stunning. The maps present the only bit of chaos with their insect-like sprawlings and unorganized keys. One must scan all names of the key to find the number and location for the places described. Clearer maps would have been lovely, but since it is unlikely I'll need such maps, the existing suffice. The reading is compelling, the topics heterogenous. On the whole, this book provides significant information and pleasure.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing insight into history
This book was amazing! when i read it, not only did it keep me interested, but i couldn't put it down!! the photographs were amazing, and so were the detailed maps! Jackson has done an excellent job with this book, and i can't wait for his next one. his hard work on this book has really paid off as it provides an exquisite insight into the history of Rome and the other places. being the head of the history department is a high post, and i am sure he deserves it. ... Read more

Isbn: 0300088566
Sales Rank: 811016
Subjects:  1. Ancient - Egypt    2. Ancient - Rome    3. Ancient Rome - History    4. Antiquities, Roman    5. Boundaries    6. Egypt    7. Egypt - History    8. History    9. History - General History    10. History: World    11. Middle East - Egypt    12. Romans    13. History / Ancient / Egypt   


Eros in Pompeii: The Erotic Art Collection of the Museum of Naples
by Michael Grant Antonia Mulas
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Paperback (01 August, 1997)
list price: $24.95
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully representative of Pompeii
When one visits Pompeii one of the first things that becomes evident is the erotic nature of the art. Even many of the souvenirs are erotic in nature. So, this book seems particularly appropriate. While eros becomes atheme uniting the book, it discusses the history and daily life in Pompeiias well as giving information of the excavation and discoveries of Pompeii.

The book also points out the important fact that many of these eroticart ojects were not strictly for brothels but appeared in every day life.The penis, for instance, was a good-luck charm that appeared on buildings,erotic images were carved onto ordinary household items, so these thingsdid not hold the controversy for ancient Pompeii that they might forreaders of more "modern" sensibilities.

This is an excellentbook, which, I believe, gives readers a real feeling for the ancient cityof Pompeii . It would be quite useful for anyone planning a trip orinterested in learning more about the culture of the city. ... Read more

Isbn: 1556706200
Sales Rank: 463758
Subjects:  1. Art    2. Art & Art Instruction    3. Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions - General    4. Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions - Museum    5. Exhibition Catalogs    6. Subjects & Themes - General   

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