- Hardcover: 704 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press (January 1, 1940)
- Language: English, Latin
- ISBN-10: 0674993489
- ISBN-13: 978-0674993488
- Product Dimensions: 4 x 1 x 6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,246,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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About the Author
John Carew Rolfe (1859 1943) taught at Cornell, Harvard, and the Universities of Michigan and Pennsylvania.
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Top Customer Reviews
This volume covers the near civil war between Constantius II and Julian, cut short by the former's death. It also details Julian's reign as sole emperor, the Persian expedition, the reign of Jovian, and lastly the accession of Valentinian and Valens, roughly 360 - 364. The material on the near civil war is good reading, with Constantius II having to fight both Julian and the Persians. Julian's own Persian campaign is the highlight. Ammianus participated in that expedition, so we get an eye-witness to the last major campaign by the Roman army using resources of the united empire. The descriptions of the battles are the best evidence we have on the combat ability of the Late Roman army.
The Loeb volumes are unabridged and this one has many of Ammianus' digressions. It is clear that he concentrates many of them in books 22 and 23 to fill out Julian's brief reign. Astronomy, biology, ethnography, history, philosophy and other topics litter the text as Ammianus will often turn aside to follow a tangent. Appreciation of these will vary, but for me it is a good example of the state of knowledge by a member of the educated classes in the 4th century.
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. If you want to read a rarer book or read one in the original language then you can't do better than the Loeb Editions.
There are three volumes of Ammianus' surviving works. Ammianus is the Tacitus of the 4th Century. His work originally picked up where Tacitus left off but only the portion from 353-378 AD has survived. His work is easy to read, generally accurate, and filled with exciting events and interesting characters. Ammianus was a career soldier who was an active participant in many of the events he describes. He knew personally many of the people who's deeds he relates. The real hero of his book is the emperor Julian. Julian the Apostate is a very sympathetic character to modern minds, and Ammianus both liked and admired him. Further sources on Julian's campaigns include his own writings (Volume I,Volume II, and Volume III), Zosimus' Historia Nova, and the remains of Eunapius in 'The Classicising Roman Historians.' Ammianus was the last great Latin historian. All of those other sources are in Greek. A better translation would probably be the Penguin one called The Later Roman Empire, although the translation here is alright. The other Loeb editions are available here and here.
This volume covers Julian's rise to Augustus, his reign, and his campaign against the Persians. The entire volume of 6 books and 650 pages takes place over only 5 years, so this is a detailed look at the period. It also covers the death of Julian, the brief reign of Jovian, and the early years of Valentinian and Valens. Books 23, 24, and the first few chapters of 25 cover Julian's Persian Campaign. I know of no more detailed narrative of a Roman campaign unless it be Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War,the Civil Wars, and the Alexandrian, African, and Spanish Wars.