- Paperback: 370 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; New edition (June 25, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415338662
- ISBN-13: 978-0415338660
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,458,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Vespasian New Edition
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'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
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Top Customer Reviews
Bible prophetically satirized that, actually (Paul's syllables = AD years 66-73 in Eph 1:4 just after 'kosmou' read 'einai hemas hagious' and of course the Temple ACTUALLY goes down at 'ha'). I just didn't know the answers until reading up on the history. Josephus alone, I didn't trust. But you might not be interested in this paragraph, so just ignore it. If you are interested, then see the comments, which have links to the videos I've been doing on this satire for the past five years (in Eph 1, 2 Tim 1, 1 Peter 1, 2 Peter 1, played on by Jude, then Mark then Book of Hebrews. I haven't yet tested the latter 3 for satire).
Original review follows below, unedited.
I just read the other reviews, wondering what I might say which could help someone decide to buy this book. Mine just arrived in hardback, and after reading even the first prelude chapter, I was hooked. Which says a lot, as I'm a female mysoginist. I don't like saying my fellow females or myself, did a good job. Don't know why, it's just a bias. Okay, but Levick can write. Well.
You can tell this book is different from the other Roman history tomes, because this one has well-ordered CHRONOLOGY up front (not in back, like the Penguin books of Suetonius), and MAPS aplenty, clear, simple, in front, so you can keep the book flap there and easily flip back and forth (don't get the Kindle edition if you need the maps, because Kindle edition maps are awful, and often you don't even get a Table of Contents or page numbers). So that predisposed me favorably, right away.
But her first chapter, blew me away. Like Wellesley in his Year of the Four Emperors, she grasps the importance of wholistic writing -- both authors do what an actor does with his lines, TRANSFORMING INTO THE CHARACTER so you can just see that character 'live'. So what was the 'character' of Rome at that time? And what was the 'character' of Vespasian which made him the man of the hour? That is the sotto-voce plot she plants, right away in the first chapter. With verve.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE HOLLYWEIRD, MAKE A REALLY GOOD MOVIE ABOUT THE YEAR OF THE FOUR EMPERORS. Use Levick, Wellesley, Morgan as your consultants, hein?
Gonna go read the rest of the book now, I just don't want to do anything else. Will edit this review later with any other stuff perhaps worth saying. If it matters, I'm busy reading Roman Emperor biographies again, because I found prophetic satires on them not only in Paul's Ephesians 1:3-14 (covered last year in my brainout vimeo videos paulmeterggs11 channel), but now in PETER's text (which I also started last year, petermeter channel); so I'm wondering where else in the Year of the Four Emperors books (Peter, Jude, Mark's Gospel, Book of Hebrews) that satire might be extended. Have to know more about the history then, to find the satiric keywords. I mean, many know John's Revelation was satirizing Domitian's day (the pantomimes in particular) to draw parallel to how the yet-future Daniel 11:35ff anti-christs (plural, two of them) get done -- but earlier Bible books do this prophetical satire too? Really?
So for now, gotta read Levick's book, even though I've read all the original guys (like Aurelius Victor) already. Always good to see a good writer, grasp her subject and BECOME THE CHARACTER of that day. Byeee.
PS: if you want to see the videos I'm making to test the 'Gonna go read' paragraph, I put video links in the comments.
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. Since her brother, Agrippa II, was in Rome until after the Flavian rebellion began, and she was romantically involved with Titus it would have been interesting to have more insight into her role.
A discussion about Nerva from Professor Levick is sorely wanting. He is briefly mentioned, which I think is odd for such a pivotal Flavian supporter. I would like to know her ideas about his mysterious contribution to the Flavian cause that earned him an ordinary consulship with Vespasian, the only consulship he did not share with Titus.
The best parts of the book for me were the last two chapters (Vespasian and His Sons and Conclusion) where Professor Levick brilliantly sums up the Flavians and their impact on history. However, Vespasian does not emerge from this book as a flesh-and-blood personality. Some of the chapters, particularly Restoration of the Roman World, which deals with events in every part of the empire, would have benefited by adding headings in the text. This would provide easy access to the information. I was perturbed over Professor Levick's shorthand in referring to ancient sources. The Annals of Tacitus, for example, are abbreviated TA and the notes are crowded. The source is not immediately identifiable and I wish more intuitive abbreviations were used.
I cannot agree with other reviewers that Professor Levick selects "boring" emperors. Tiberius and Claudius were anything but boring, and their reigns were pivotal in the history of the principate. I think that there is room for another biography of Vespasian, written in the form of a true life of the subject, and including chapters dealing with the state of the empire, army, art and literature. Ms. Levick's book is not the last word on her subject.
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