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Pompey the Great: A Political Biography Paperback – September 13, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0631227212 ISBN-10: 0631227210 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (September 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631227210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631227212
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Displays a high degree of expertise and professional competence . . . an important contribution to the understanding of the late Republic and a valuable tool for future researchers." History <!--end-->

"An authoritative volume which is likely for many years to remain essential reading for students of the Late Republic. . . highly recommended." Greece and Rome

"The new edition makes this volume one of the most ready references on this subject in English, and the chronological table and the glossary are exemplary for a biography on a Roman topic. Seager's work has stood the test of time and will continue to do so." Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Review

"Displays a high degree of expertise and professional competence . . . an important contribution to the understanding of the late Republic and a valuable tool for future researchers." History <!--end-->

"An authoritative volume which is likely for many years to remain essential reading for students of the Late Republic. . . highly recommended." Greece and Rome

"The new edition makes this volume one of the most ready references on this subject in English, and the chronological table and the glossary are exemplary for a biography on a Roman topic. Seager's work has stood the test of time and will continue to do so." Bryn Mawr Classical Review


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3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By BK on September 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
The story of the rise and fall of Pompey is the story of the fall of the Roman Republic and its eventual rebirth as an Imperial empire. Both coincide with each other with ones gains coming at the expense of the other. However, Pompey did not initiate the events that began the Republics downward spiral. Rather he helped hasten them to their inevitable conclusion. And so begins Robin Seager's historical biography on Pompey.

Seager begins first at the events that set in motion the decline of the Republic and the rise of Pompey (and others sharing the same limitless ambitions) by discussing the popular reforms attempted by the Gracchi brothers to return land to the landless. Over the years, war service and an influx of slaves through military conquests had led to many Romans losing their farm lands and losing the ability to work in the agricultural sector. On top of this, once Romans lost their land, they no longer qualified for military service and thus the state lost a soldier. The reforms attempted to correct this reality by providing recently conquered land to the landless. The Senate, greatly opposing this as it would affect them financially, ensured that the reforms failed. This event marked the growing conflict between the Senate and the Tribunes (who directly represented the peoples interest, theoretically) over control of the Republic. An event that sparked bitter rivalries between equites (a sort of merchant class who were wealthy but until recently stayed out of politics) who demanded recognition and respect from the Senate and the aristocrats who believed it was their innate right to govern through exclusion.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By B. Blanchard on November 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Seager's Pompey is an excellent book that is a necessity for anyone wanting to fully understand the political career of Pompey Magnus. Over the years, countless books have been written on Caesar and the fall of the Republic, and I find it interesting that very few (at least very few in English) book have been written on the life of Pompey.

Seager's book does a fantastic job of explaining how Pompey was able to rise to power through the use of the army and his military victories. An interesting point that Seager makes about Pompey's rise is that since Pompey skipped many of the offices that most Romans needed to obtain before becoming consul he did not have the political acumen of others in his position. This explanation does much for enlightening the reader as to why Pompey made some decisions (which in hindsight) which damaged his reputation within the Republic.

Another interesting point that Seager makes in his book is that he believes that Cicero may have exaggerated the threat of Catiline to galvanize the Republic against the return of Pompey. After all Sulla's return from the east was still fresh in many Romans' minds (the proscriptions had effected most of the patrician families in one way or another) and since Pompey had been a lieutenant of Sulla there was speculation that he too would make a grab at supreme power over the Republic.

Seager has produced a thorough biography of Pompey's life in this book and it should be read by those interested in the complexities of Pompey and the late Roman Republic. However, be aware that Pompey's military exploits are glossed over in this book and Seager's primary focus is on Pompey's political career.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brian Hawkinson VINE VOICE on July 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
I sure am going against the grain here. Although I believe Seager certainly is knowledgeable on Pompey, it wasn't presented to the reader in any way that could have been enjoyable.

Seager tackles a difficult subject on a very important Roman figure. It is difficult because of of the subject, which excludes his military exploits and focuses solely on his political accomplishment. Although this may be necessary area to focus on, it certainly is not interesting to read about. The fault lies in that the mechanism of the historical narrative was removed from the style of writing when you focus on something that involves the listing of names and laws passed. When you are constantly citing consuls and other political figures with little to no background you are left with nothing to sink your teeth in to. I found I was constantly unable to really get a good grasp on Pompey's political life because there were too many names thrown at me, and too many laws passed, that I was constantly playing catch up.

Not focusing on his military exploits is one thing, but you can certainly talk about them a little in order to build the greater picture. For example, the Battle of Pharsalus. It was basically talked about in about 2 sentences, saying nothing more than Pompey lost to Caesar. This all important clash between two of Rome's greatest generals was relegated to nothing more than a few words in passing. This to me is a huge oversight and something that certainly could have been expanded upon if only to talk more about the political ramifications more in depth.

Ultimately you have a subject and author that are both very in depth and knowledgeable, but didn't quite execute on the level that makes the subject accessible.
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