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Sulla: The Last Republican Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0415336604 ISBN-10: 0415336600 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (June 23, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415336600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415336604
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,777,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'Clearly written, does not shy away from controversies, and, above all, presents enough of the original evidence and modern literature to enable enquiring students to go further.' - J.F. Lazenby, JACT

About the Author

Senior Lecturer at the University of Kent at Canterbury.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By greg taylor VINE VOICE on April 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In some ways, this is one of the oddest books I have ever read. It took me a long while to figure out how to read and appreciate it. Even though I believe it to be badly flawed, I also believe it to be a wonderful case study in the difficulties of doing history.

For Arthur Keaveney (AK from now on) believes Sulla to be a victim of poor historical method. AK believes that if we situate Sulla in the right historical context and with the appropriate moral compass that many of Sulla's actions that seem cruel, bloody-minded or tyrannical reveal themselves as the actions of a man determined to save the Roman Republic from itself. I believe he fails in his attempt but that is up to each individual to decide.

To make a long story short, I finally came up with the idea of reading this biography as AK's attempt to recreate Sulla's memoirs which is largely lost to us.
As an alternate approach, think of AK's work as a study in taking the hermeneutics of generosity to an extreme. AK really tries to see all of Sulla's life as he thinks Sulla would have seen it.

I would summarize AK's presentation of Sulla as being based on three themes:

1. Sulla was famous for his good fortune. He was known throughout his life as
Sulla Felix or Sulla the Fortunate. AK rightly emphasizes that to the Romans this
meant that the gods blessed and approved of Sulla and his actions. This was a source of assurance to Sulla and his adherents throughout his life. Sulla was especially devoted to Apollo, Bellona and Venus(there is a good presentation of this theme on pp.33-35). By the way, this theme leads to some of the oddest writing in the book. AK writes as if the Roman gods and the prophecies of seers and augurs are real.
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Format: Paperback
This is a rather superb biography of Sulla, the Roman Dictator, the victor of Mithdridates and the warlord who emerged victorious from Rome's civil war against the "Maristes".

As the author makes clear from the beginning, Sulla has been much maligned and has received an overwhelming amount of "negative press", both from ancient authors and modern historians, much more in fact than Marius, who was at least as unscrupulous. As he also shows, this mainly because he was the first Roman general to march his army on Rome and attack it (twice) and he was also the first to get rid of his enemies through the "proscriptions" and a systematic reign of terror. In both cases, he would have plenty of imitators over the last half century of the Republic.

What is less well known are the reasons he had for going to such unprecedented extremes, and this is where the author's contribution is particularly valuable. Essentially, it was about survival, his own, and perhaps also that of a certain idea he had of a Roman Republic dominated by the Senate. Added to this is Sulla's own character, that of a bitter scion of a patrician family who had come across hard times, despised the "populares" but was also despised by the "optimates" who say him as a renegade. One of the main features of his personality, as the author demonstrates throughout his book, was his constancy. He is presented as utterly loyal to his friends and utterly relentless when it came to retaliating and avenging past wrongs.

In sum, according to the author who seeks to largely rehabilitate him, he did what he had to, at whatever costs, and was not one to shy away from extreme measures, when he believed that these were the only viable options.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By safetybiz on March 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sulla had a peculiar sense of morality which might be summed up with one story about one slave who, in order to win his freedom, betrayed his master. The slave may have won his freedom but it was short-lived because for betraying his master, he lost his life. That's Sulla. He was a man who rewarded his allies and destroyed all those who were not aware of their positions. I would henceforth read anything Keaveney published; he is a master of research and capturing the essence of his subject.
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