Book Review: The Enemies of Rome: From Hannibal to Attila the Hun


by Philip Matyszak

New York: Thames & Hudson, 2005. Pp. 296. Illus., maps, biblio., index. $31.95. ISBN:0500287724

The Enemies of Rome is a survey of Roman history from its beginning through the mid-Fifth Century, told through the interactions between the Romans and some of their most notable enemies. 

Written for the non-specialist, the book is divided into four periods; the age of Republican expansion (c. 264-c. 100 B.C.), the civil wars (c. 100-30 B.C.), the Pax Romana (30 B.C.- A.D. 200), and the long decline (c. 200-c. 450). For each period, several notable foes of Rome are each covered by a chapter that discusses their background, the causes of conflict with Rome , their forces and skills, and the reasons for their success or failure, with some critical analysis. The leaders are a diverse group, some are national leaders, some "rebels" against established Roman rule, and, of course some are "Barbarians" -- Hannibal, Philip V of Macedon, Viriathus, Jugurtha, Mithradates of Pontus Spartacus, Vercingetorix, Orodes, Cleopatra, Arminius, Boudicca, Josephus, Decebalus, Shapur I, Zenobia, Alaric, and Attila. 

While the specialist might quibble about some of the coverage, or about what and who are not included (the era of the Kings and the Early Republic, as well as the Surena, Juba , Tacfarinas, the list is long), this is an excellent introduction for anyone lacking a serous background in Roman history.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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