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Bandits in the Roman Empire: Myth and Reality [Paperback]

Thomas Grünewald , John Drinkwater
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Book Description

8 Sep 2008 0415486815 978-0415486811 1

This wide-ranging and informative survey of 'outsider' groups in the Roman Empire will contribute greatly to our understanding of Roman social history.

Examining men such as as Viriatus, Tacfarinus, Maternus and Bulla Felix, who were called latrones after clashing with the imperial authorities, special attention is given to perhaps the best-known 'bandit' of all, Spartacus, and to those who impersonated the emperor Nero after his death. Topics covered include:

* Whom did the Romans see as bandits (latrones)?
* What did they understand as robbery (lactrocinium)?
* How pressing was the threat that the bandits posed?
* How did their contemporaries perceive the danger?

We are shown that the term latrones was not just used to refer to criminals but was metaphorically and disparagingly applied to failed political rebels, rivals and avengers. The word also came to represent the 'noble brigands', idealising the underdog as a means of criticising the winning side. The author therefore presents 'the bandit' as a literary construct rather than a social type.


Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (8 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415486815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415486811
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 601,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.0 out of 5 stars The first full-scale study of this topic 16 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback
"Bandits in the Roman Empire: Myth and Reality" by Thomas Grünewald is an English version of a book that was published in German in 1999. The English version was published by Routledge in 2004 (hardcover) and 2008 (paperback). The text is translated by John F. Drinkwater, emeritus professor of Roman history, Department of Classics, University of Nottingham, author of Roman Gaul (1983, reprinted 2013) and The Alamanni and Rome 213-496 (2007).

Thomas Grünewald - a classical scholar from Germany - is the author of a book about political propaganda in the age of Constantine (published 1990). His book about bandits in the Roman Empire began as a doctoral dissertation (Habilitation) for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the Gerhard-Mercator University in Duisburg. The text has been slightly revised for publication in order to accommodate comments made by examiners. According to the back cover of the paperback version he is an honorary lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

The Latin word for a bandit is LATRO, plural LATRONES. For obvious reasons this word is used a lot in this book. The Greek equivalent is LAISTES, plural LAISTAI. Bandits on the sea (pirates) are known as PRAEDONES. While these words have several meanings, they always have a negative connotation.

The book begins with an introduction where ancient sources and modern scholarship about the topic are presented. It is no surprise that the primary material is quite limited. Most ancient authors felt that bandits do not deserve to be mentioned or discussed in serious literature.
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