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Trajan: Optimus Princeps (Roman Imperial Biographies) Hardcover – April 17, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0415165242 ISBN-10: 0415165245

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Product Details

  • Series: Roman Imperial Biographies
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (April 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415165245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415165242
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,366,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'This book is certainly a valuable addition to the burgeoning collection of imperial biographies.' - David Shotter Classical Review

About the Author

JULIAN BENNETT is Lecturer in Archaeology at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. After reading Archaeology at the University of Durham, he prepared a dissertation on HadrianÍs Wall at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He has been the English Heritage Field Officer for HadrianÍs Wall and has contributed articles to Britannia and Archaeologia Aeliana. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
Also, the reign of the tyrant Domitian is given a good overview.
Sean O'Brien
The author does an excellent job at fine details such as with his discriptions of Hadrians campaigns and the financial situation of Rome.
Hal A. Kramer
The book is indeed difficult to read for someone that has no special interest in Trajan or the Roman Empire.
JPS

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Sean O'Brien on May 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
Julian Bennett's biography of Trajan goes into great detail of how the early Principate worked. Trajan's famliy's rise to power is discussed in the first few chapters. Also, the reign of the tyrant Domitian is given a good overview.
Certainly Trajan is one of the most admired rulers of the early Empire. His exploits in Dacia and Parthia are the stuff of legend. Fortunately Julian Bennett gives these campaigns full attention, but goes well beyond that to look at the workings of the Imperial government. Be warned this book is not for the novice in Roman History. The financial policies of the Empire are discussed in detail, such how the Princeps would determine how much gold and silver to put into coins. Also well documented is how the Provinces, both 'Senatorial' and 'Imperial', were governed and how the Legions higher command structures were handled, what today we would call 'corp' or 'army' command level.
If you are looking for just a history of the Dacian and Parthian wars you probably won't like the detail given the more 'mundane' aspects of Roman Imperial Government. However, if you are familiar with Roman history and want to see how the Principate worked on a more detailed and personal level this book is with out a doubt on of the best.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By David A. Wend TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 26, 1999
Format: Library Binding
The achievement of Julian Bennett cannot be overestimated. His book, the first in English, is the major source for information about Trajan. The author is long-winded at times and I found his brief examination of the evolution of the principate unnecessary but, overall, this is a book not to be missed.
Mr. Bennett's presenation of Domitian was not entirely convincing for me. He seems to accept many of the bad stories about the emperor but also mentions that his reputation was blackened during Trajan's reign. However, a good comparison is made between the two emperors in the final chapter. Trajan was a lot like Domitian in his approach to power.
I would have liked more about Nerva in the book and Trajan's relationship to his adoptive father. For me, there seems to be some friction between them. Was there a reason Trajan did not issue commemorative coins for Nerva's deification?
Mr. Bennett gives an excellent examination of Trajan's coinage and provides a perspective from an archaelogical point of view. He covers every aspect of Trajan's career. This is not lite reading but, for the most part, is absorbing and thought-provoking.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Hal A. Kramer on March 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
While a rather dry read at times, this book is simply unmatched in scope when it comes to describing the reign of Trajan from his rise to power to his death. The author does an excellent job at fine details such as with his discriptions of Hadrians campaigns and the financial situation of Rome.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
Reviewers have tended to either complain about or praise this book for what it is: a very well down academic book, which is thoroughly and comprehensively researched to the extent that, if you are no particular "fan" of Trajan or the Roman Empire, you might find this book "too difficult and boring" or "detailed beyond readability". I can understand that some, on both Amazon.uk and Amazon.com might have felt a bit upset by Julian Bennett's descriptions "ad nauseam" of each little feature on Trajan's column, for instance. Having said that, it is rather unfair to blame a book for being exactly what it is portrayed to be, and an author for having delivered exactly what he was expected to deliver: a top-class piece of scholarship that exhibits all the features - good or bad - that generally go with such books.

Among the "good" are the quality of the author's research, the fact that he leaves no stone unturned, the trouble he takes in explaining in detail the various aspects of Trajan's reign. This was exactly what I was expecting to find, coming from someone like Julian Bennett. On the "bad" side, well, the items to list here are more or less the other side of the coin, when seen from the general reader's point of view. Masses of references and annexes make up one-third of the book as you often find in a thoroughly researched academic study. The book is indeed difficult to read for someone that has no special interest in Trajan or the Roman Empire. Although well written, the small printing does not help ni this respect. As another reviewer mentioned, this is definitely NOT a book for "bed-side reading". It is NOT a bestseller and has never been intended as one.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Klopp on September 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book on the life and times of the emperor Trajan. Though this book is not recommended for those uninitiated in imperial roman history, for those who are the attention to detail will be appreciated. Furthermore, Bennett acknowledges the lack of specific information relating especially to the early life of the emperor but uses his vast yet detailed knowledge of history, politics, society, etc.. to synthesize any necessary sequence of events and give the reader an excellent perspective of the empire at its apogee.
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