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Vespasian Paperback – August 11, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0415338660 ISBN-10: 0415338662 Edition: New

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; New edition (August 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415338662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415338660
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,426,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'Levick has produced a balanced, thoughtful and thoroughly comprehensive treatment of her subject. It will surely remain the standard work on Vespasian for years to come.' - Bryn Mawr Classical Review


'Levick has an enviable mastery of the ancient source material, including literature, inscriptions, and coins. The narrative is confident and readable … This volume will be an essential addition to the bookshelves of all those interested in the study and teaching of Roman history, and for those with a more casual interest it is thoroughly enjoyable to read.' - The Classical Review


'It is a scholarly work that fills a major gap in current English-language biography.' - Phoenix

About the Author

Barbara Levick,St. Hilda's College, Oxford --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By David A. Wend on October 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is better termed a history of the Flavians rather than a biography of Vespasian. Despite a glowing review (in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review), I have reservations about the achievement of Barbara Levick in writing this book.
I was looking forward "Vespasian" since, until now, there has been no biography in English about this emperor. Aside from a history of his reign, I was hoping this new book would provide some insight into Vespasian's personality and his relations with Titus and Domitian. To an extent, Professor Levick fulfilled this expectation but not on the level I was hoping. For example, I was interested in a broader assessment of the fortunes of the Flavians, particularly their rise under Caligula and Claudius and Vespasian's fall from grace. I would have liked more about Titus' education with Britannicus and his presumed presence at the poisoning of Claudius' son. I think the latter instance is pure Flavian propaganda.
The Judean War is related as a recitation of the facts with little elaboration. We do not get a full picture of Titus's role in the war. He was an inexperienced commander and showed this in more than a few mistakes he made. If Vespasian allowed him the glory of capturing Jerusalem he made sure that his son has a seasoned professional to advise him: Tiberius Julius Alexander. Titus' pivotal role was in handling the delicate negotiations between the parties involved in the Flavian rebellion met with scant attention. Without his traveling from person to person, Vespasian's rebellion would never have happened. The role Queen Berenice in these negotiations is not brought up.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David J. Martz, Jr. on April 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The previous half dozen reader reviews of this book (mostly lukewarm) have fallen into two catagories: quibbles by other period specialists and complaints from those who wish Levick would try to impart some readability to her scholarship. Of course the specialists beg to differ, that's what specialists do. No two would ever make the same choices in attempting to capture the same complex period. Those who assert that this book is very "dry" are right, but those who dub it "boring" have missed the point. Try to find another booklength biography of Vespasian in English! If one wants to learn about this man, this is an essential book and for that reason it deserves more than three stars. Levick is a scholar emerita. We can regret that she did not learn her craft in an era when some historians recognize the value of writing for a wider audience than the tiny circle of their fellow cognoscenti, but we do her wrong if we fail to credit her with writing a work that is the first of its kind.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By jrmspnc on June 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There is no fault to be had with Levick's attention to detail, or her painstaking research. Where Vespasian falls flat, however, is in style and organization. Levick eschews the narrative, and spurns a chronological approach to her subject. She chooses instead a subject-oriented organization; not bad in and of itself (Michael Grant largely pulls that off in The Severans), but her dry style and over-attention to obscure details and constant quarrels with other scholars make the absence of a narrative approach nearly fatal.
Levick also buries any hint of her own voice or feelings. Obviously, she must have a keen interest in Vespasian to have invested such a large amount of work in the book. Yet none of her interest comes through. Contrast that with historians such as Norwich, Tuchman, or Runciman - a passion for their subject shines through each of their works. The best historians set out with the mindset, "This is a fascinating era of history, and I'm going to show my readers why they should think so, too." Levick seems to have other priorities.
Perhaps academics can appreciate Levick's work (and perhaps the Italian translation is more gripping); for the amateur, however, looking for an enjoyable, educational foray into Imperial Rome, Levick's Vespasian is best avoided.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael Schuyler on January 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am incredulous that one reviewer would term Caligula, Claudius, and Vespasian as "boring." There are dozens and dozens of boring Emperors. But these guys? Caligula, dressing up as a Pharoh (or a woman) and parading the streets of Rome with a fake falling-off beard. Claudius, proclaimed Emperor by the Praetorian Guards as a joke--that backfired. Except for his choice of wives, such as his niece Agrippina (too bad about that. It gave the world Nero. Oh, and Messalina, the party girl!) he did rather well. And Vespasian himself, who would have thought! He brought stability to the empire, paid off the debts, put a tax on urine, and got to sleep with Antonia Caenis as well. These guys were anything but boring. And given the paucity of solid stuff on Vespasian, I'll take what I can get.
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