Sources: Warfare in the Roman Republic: From the Etruscan Wars to the Battle of Actium

Sources: Warfare in the Roman Republic: From the Etruscan Wars to the Battle of Actium

Warfare in the Roman Republic: From the Etruscan Wars to the Battle of Actium. Ed. by Lee L. Brice. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2014. 338 pages. Acid free $58 (ISBN: 978-1-61069-298-4). Ebook available (978-1-61069-299-1), call for pricing.

Covering the period from the fall of the kings of Rome until the dawn of the empire under Octavius (later to be known as Augustus Caesar), this work focuses specifically on military affairs during this tempestuous time. This period of history witnessed the rise of Rome as a Mediterranean superpower and the decline of Greece, Carthage, and Egypt. Of the 96 total entries, almost a third covers famous people, primarily military leaders and historians. The biographies are very brief and focus almost exclusively on the military actions of these men (and of Cleopatra VII, the only female who receives an entry). Entries on wars and battles constitute the next greatest number of entries. Of special note are the entries on the three major civil wars of the Republican age and on the Punic wars for which, in addition to providing a brief sketch of the course of the wars, the volume provides a handy chart of the key events for each war that gives the approximate date of the event, its region/locale, key commanders, combatant numbers, and the victor. Other entries include topics related to war and the military such as artillery, cavalry, centurions, forts, military decorations, standards, and training. Some items are conspicuous in their absence. Although there is an entry for the office of quaestor, there is none for praetor or consul which were much higher offices that usually bestowed military command (imperium) upon those who held the office. Also, there is an entry for the Comitia Centuriata but the other assemblies of the people are not mentioned, even in the index. Another entry that is missing is augury which occurred before any battle. A major feature of the work is the inclusion of selections from the work of several ancient historians who discuss the Roman military. These include excerpts from the writings of Polybius, Livy, Julius Caesar, Plutarch, Galba, and Appian. Other useful features of the volume are a detailed chronology for the period 509 to 30 BCE, a short glossary of terms (that could have been expanded), a helpful bibliography of sources, and a comprehensive index. The list of contributors gives ten individuals, but seven of these either wrote or shared authorship of one article each. Lee Brice, the editor of the book, actually wrote or co-wrote almost all the articles.

For those academic libraries that support programs in classics, Latin, and ancient Mediterranean history, this will be a worthwhile purchase. For other libraries that have access to the print or online version of The Oxford Classical Dictionary this will be an optional purchase.—Gregory A. Crawford, Director, Penn State Harrisburg Library, Middletown, Pennsylvania


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