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Ammianus Marcellinus: Roman History, Volume I, Books 14-19 (Loeb Classical Library No. 300) (English and Latin Edition) Revised Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674993310
ISBN-10: 0674993314
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  • Ammianus Marcellinus: Roman History, Volume I, Books 14-19 (Loeb Classical Library No. 300) (English and Latin Edition)
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  • Ammianus Marcellinus: Roman History, Volume II, Books 20-26 (Loeb Classical Library No. 315) (English and Latin Edition)
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  • Ammianus Marcellinus: Roman History, Volume III, Books 27-31. Excerpta Valesiana (Loeb Classical Library No. 331) (English and Latin Edition)
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Carew Rolfe (1859 1943) taught at Cornell, Harvard, and the Universities of Michigan and Pennsylvania.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Revised edition (January 1, 1950)
  • Language: English, Latin
  • ISBN-10: 0674993314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674993310
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 1 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Here is volume one (Books 14-19, Loeb 300) of Ammianus' superb Roman History, which eloquently covers, in fine detail, the events of the empire from AD 353-359. The following volumes, two (Books 20-26, Loeb 315) and three (Books 27-31, Loeb 331), also extensively document the period spanning from AD 360-378. Now, Ammianus Marcellinus is the primary source for this era; he gained all his material through contemporary first-hand sources and documents, or through hearsay. At other times, Ammianus provides us with intricate and moving eyewitness accounts. To say the least, without these treasured books, scholars would have to rely on archaeological data and the scanty and unsatisfying accounts handed down to us in chronicles. As for Ammianus' merits as an author, he has many. His narrative is gripping and pathos laden; and it is delivered with clarity and effectiveness. His characterizations are vivid, picturesque and quite believable. Furthermore, Ammianus writes seemingly without bias or party-favor and he has a beautiful vision of eternal Rome, and of Fortune, Fate and Providence. Ammianus fits very comfortably in the pantheon of Latin literary giants like Cicero, Sallust, Tacitus and Livy, to name a few. In short, the Roman History enthusiast cannot go without these books.
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Since there are so many of these darn things the review shall be divided into three sections. First, a brief description of the Loeb series of books and their advantages/disadvantages. Second shall be my thoughts on the author himself, his accuracy, as well as his style and the style of his translator. This is of course only my opinion and should be treated as such. The final part shall review what this particular book actually covers.

The Loeb series date back to the turn of the last century. They are designed for people with at least some knowledge of Greek or Latin. They are a sort of compromise between a straight English translation and an annotated copy of the original text. On the left page is printed the text in Greek or Latin depending on the language of the writer and on the right side is the text in English. For somebody who knows even a little Greek or Latin these texts are invaluable. You can try to read the text in the original language knowing that you can correct yourself by looking on the next page or you can read the text in translation and check the translation with the original for more detail. While some of the translations are excellent mostly they are merely serviceable since they are designed more as an aid to translation rather than a translation in themselves. Most of them follow the Greek or Latin very closely. These books are also very small, maybe just over a quarter the size of your average hardcover book. This means that you'll need to buy more than just one book to read a complete work. They are also somewhat pricey considering their size. The Loeb Collection is very large but most of the more famous works can be found in better (and cheaper) translations elsewhere.
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Ammianus gives us a detailled and interesting picture of the late Roman Empire and the workings of the Roman army. The Latin text makes for great reading for anyone who has an interest in Latin and history.
My complaints about this edition are that the translation does not make for easy reading, the work is divided into three, and it is very expensive.
If you want the Latin text only a much cheaper alternative is Rerum gestarum libri XXXI: (ab excessu Nervae) (Latin Edition).
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The Loeb edition of Ammianus is superior to its Penguin compatriot only in that the entire text is present, albeit in 3 volumes. However, the translation in this edition is from the mid-1920s. It is full of outdated terminology and a rather tough read. Translations don't have to age badly, for example, look at William Whiston's translation of Josephus. However, this translations has aged badly, and you'll want to keep your Latin dictionary close so you can check out what certain terms mean in the Latin text, as the English is likely to be more confusing than anything. Ammianus is well informed on military matters, but translating Roman military terms into 19th and 20th century British military terms does not work.

If you want to read Ammianus, there is no perfect road for you. The Penguin edition is incomplete, and the Loeb is ancient, and rather pricey.

3 stars for Loeb not updating the translation.
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