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