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Roman History.

The glamour attending on Hannibal's doomed enterprise should ensure there will never be a shortage of books about the Second Punic War. The latest to appear is John Peddie's (B)(*)Hannibal's War.(1) Written by a man who was himself a soldier this is patently a work of popularization whose readable text is bolstered by attractive illustrations. There are some slips. Caius Claudius Cadix (2) looks like an amalgam of Ap. Claudius Caudex (cos.) and C. Claudius (trib. mil.). As Peddie's own narrative shows, the towns of Magna Graecia were something more than `trading posts' (35). The following (105, 176, 187) do not exist: the Apulia, the Fregellae, the Bruttium towns. The idea that the site of Carthage was sown with salt (203) is now discredited; see Ridley, CPh 1986. Herwig Wolfram's (B)(**)The Roman Empire and its Germanic Peoples(2) started life as Das Reich und die Germanen. The translation seems serviceable, if somewhat colloquial but the odd Germanism sometimes creeps in see, for example, 5, 102, and 154. The stated aim (13) is `to trace the beginnings of a history of the Germans' or the way in which the Germanic peoples established their kingdoms on the wreckage of the Roman Empire. The author does not subscribe to the `decline and fall' thesis but prefers to speak of a period of transformation. The treatment is exhaustive and thorough. In an impressively learned book certain passages stand out the cutting down of Alaric to size (100), the discussion of the survival of the Eastern Empire (103 ff.), the consideration of the so-called decadence of Rome (181), and the debate (188ff.) as to whether the Roman Empire really fell in 471. In contrast, Wolfram (241) is somewhat coy on the subject of the breakdown of urban life in Britain but we do not think we need hold it against him that he believes (247) the Archbishop of Canterbury is the head of the Church of England. Still in the Late Empire we come to the (B)(*)Cambridge Ancient History Vol. XIII.(3) This is the latest volume of the second edition and, as the editors remind us, something of a departure from the first. The latter finishes with Vol. XII just before Constantine's period of sole rule. The present volume begins with Constantine's death and takes the story down to the proclamation of Valentinian III as Augustus. This, of course, reflects the great surge of interest in Late Antiquity which we have witnessed in the last thirty years or so. A further volume is promised which will end with the sixth century A.D. The present work is divided into six broad sections. First of all there is a chronologically based narrative, then comes a survey of government and institutions which is followed by a discussion of economy and society. Next the barbarian world is discussed and the work concludes with sections on religion, art, and culture. There is a generous bibliography which is in a more accessible form than its counterparts in previous volumes. At the opposite end of the time scale we have A. Grandazzi's (B)(**)The Foundation of Rome.(4) This is an attempt to establish, so far as is possible, using both literary and archaeological data, the date of the foundation of the city. I say so far as is possible because the author is very aware, and constantly reminds us, of the meagre, contradictory, and ambiguous body of evidence he has to deal with which often admits of more than one interpretation. This latter point is underlined by the diversity of scholarly theories which Grandazzi outlines and criticizes in his first section. It may also count for Grandazzi's slightly periphrastic and allusive style. The nature of the topic demands that virtually every statement be hedged around with qualification as the author makes his way through the pitfalls Which await in his evidence. In the end, however, he is able to declare (175) with some confidence that Rome was founded on the Palatine in the second half of the eighth century B.C. There may never have been a Romulus but there was, Grandazzi believes, `a Romulean moment'. (B)(**)Die romischen Kaiser(5) edited by Manfred Claus is a popular work containing the lives of 55 Roman emperors with a bibliography but no footnotes. Claus has gathered as collaborators fifty-three German professors but one can only wonder if he really needed so many for what is, essentially, a collection of brief lives. Not all who wore the purple get separate treatment. Most notable in this category are Galba, Otho, and Vitellius who figure in a rather pedestrian account of the year 69 A.D. contained in the life of Vespasian (Malitz). In contrast with this dullness we might cite as an example of liveliness of treatment the life of Gratian by Girardet. Indeed late emperors do rather well. Schumacher's account of Aurelian conveys well the man's immense energy while van Hoof rightly points out that Valentinian I was `einer der letzen militarisch erfolgreichen Kaiser des spatromischen Reiches' (341). And if, as we remarked, Galba and his contemporaries get rather short measure Zenobia is given a whole entry to herself. Reverting to earlier ages we find that some of the more lurid and grosser details concerning Caligula (Bellen) and Heliogabalus (Hell) tend to be slightly glossed over. I doubt if this book will have much impact in Britain. Schools are unlikely to make it their first port of call for basic information on the Caesars, and there would seem to be little to engage the attention of mature scholars. To anybody who knows German though it makes, in the main, for a good read.


(1.) Hannibal's War. By John Peddie. Sutton, Stroud, 1977. Pp. xvi + 232, with 80 illustrations and 1 map. 25.00 [pounds sterling].

(2.) The Roman Empire and its Germanic Peoples. By Herwig Wolfram. University of California Press, 1997. Pp. xx + 361 with 4 genealogical charts and 2 maps. $39.95.

(3.) The Cambridge Ancient History. Vol. XIII The Late Empire, A.D. 337-425. Edited by Averil Cameron and Peter Garnsey. Cambridge U.P., 1998. Pp. xvi + 889, with 12 text-figures and 9 maps. 90.00 [pounds sterling].

(4.) The Foundation of Rome. Myth and History. By Alexandre Grandazzi. Cornell U.P., 1997. Pp. xii + 236, with 2 maps. Cloth $49.95, paper $19.95.

(5.) Die `romischen Kaiser. 55 Historische Portraits yon Caesar bis Iustinian. Edited by Manfred Claus. Verlag C. H. Beck, Munich, 1997. Pp. 501, with 55 figures, 2 maps, and 1 chronological table. DM.68.

((*) denotes that a book is specially recommended for school libraries; (**) that it is suitable for advanced students only; (B)that a bibliography is included.)
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Title Annotation:Review
Publication:Greece & Rome
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1998
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