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Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity: Neighbours and Rivals

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521614078
ISBN-10: 0521614074
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'... this is an excellent textbook introduction to Roman-Persian relations of the Late Antique period for specialist and non-specialist readers alike. It will, undoubtedly, prove popular in introductory and survey courses. The book's main virtue is that it makes accessible a wide range of sources in translation and does so in a very readable and user-friendly manner with repeated cross-references between the two parts of the book.' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

Book Description

The foundation of the Sasanian Empire in Persia in AD 224 established a formidable new power on the Roman Empire's eastern frontier, and relations over the next four centuries proved turbulent. This book provides a narrative of their relationship, supported by a substantial collection of translated sources illustrating structural patterns.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (October 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521614074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521614078
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,272,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I know of no other book that covers this topic in such an accessible format. Books on the Sassanid Persians are hard to find in general, and the Roman-Persian wars generally only show up in the context of background information or specific emperors' campaigns. It's kind of embarrassing. This book covers more than just the wars though. It includes the diplomatic relationships and the way that their relations changed over time. This book covers all the basics needed for a broader understanding of this topic.

It's nice when books are so considerately laid out. The first section covers a narrative of the conflicts while the other chapters deal with the various issues involved. The second section details what the sources say. It includes large selections from these sources to describe the various conflicts. As might be expected most of these documents are Roman ones. Syrian and Armenians ones show up too, but the Persian evidence is scanty and rarely informative. The rest of the book covers topics such as diplomacy, the Arabs, and the nature of rule.

I don't have much to say about this book. That's not because it's a bad one but because it's a good one. I have no major criticisms and while I disagree with several of their interpretations I can't say that they are too far off. As I said earlier there really aren't many books on this topic. Touraj Daryaee's Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire and Sasanian Iran: Portrait of a Late Antique Empire are the only books in English covering the Sassanians exclusively.
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By Canberran on September 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity provides a brief summary of events in chronological order supported by quotation and references. Supplementing this are additional chapters that focus on particular aspects of the two empires. These include the military, the diplomatic and the religious.

Most of the content will be entirely familiar to readers with an interest in the period, and for English-speaking readers, many of the referenced works are in German, which makes checking footnotes and references difficult for the monolingual.

This volume is a good companion to the period, occupying a middle ground between the more detailed source books such as Dodgeon & Lieu's 'The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars: A Documentary History' and a more generalist historical summary. One or two points did grate, for example the use of Wilcox's Osprey book as a source for the Sasanian army, and an acceptance of claims of multiple captures of Ctesiphon in the 3rd Century that have never been substantiated. The authors seem to have a very good grasp of the source material available, covering Syriac and Armenian accounts, together with the later Arab authors such as Masudi and Baladhur as well as the more widely known Western sources such as Ammianus, Procopius and the like.

I would have liked to see more critical analysis of some of the Romano-Byzantine sources, but on the whole I can recommend this book as an excellent summary for the more than casual reader.
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Format: Paperback
This book covers the history of the Roman - Sasanian Persian relationship, from the coming to power of Ardashir I in 224 up to the defeat of Xusro II by Heraclius in 628 and the subsequent downfall of the Persian Empire. Thereby, different aspects are treated such as warfare and peace negotiations between the two powers, the struggles for the different peripheral areas, as well as religious and economic aspects. A positive point is also that the authors cite many original sources, thereby enabling the reader not only to gain an insight into what happened, but also how it was perceived and written down by contemporaries.

Rating it nevertheless turned out to be a difficult task for me. One the one hand, the book contained a lot of interesting information and I learned a lot about Roman - Sasanian relations while reading it. On the other hand, I simply couldn't warm up for its structure. Maybe that's simply because I prefer history books organized in a chronological order. This one, however, after a short introduction into the events of 224 to 628, was build up according to the themes, where each theme, such as wars, peace treaties, conquest of peripheral dominions, economic and religious interactions, and so on, was discussed separately, and only in itself chronologically. We learn thus about the wars from 224 to 628, about the peace negotiations from 224 to 628, and so on, never being told the whole story, and always browsing back and forward through the pages to be reminded of what happened at the same time. Moreover as peace treaties generally involved wars, and as wars were also fought in the peripheral areas, and as economic and religious considerations were always crucial elements in the wars, a lot of information was bound to be repeated throughout the pages.
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