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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Classical Historian
Since there are so many of these darn things the review shall be divided into three sections. First, a brief description of the Loeb series of books and their advantages/disadvantages. Second shall be my thoughts on the author himself, his accuracy, as well as his style and the style of his translator. This is of course only my opinion and should be treated as such. The...
Published on 18 Sept. 2011 by Arch Stanton

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Classical Account
I have just finished the second volume in Procopius's "History of the Wars". Volume two encompasses books III-IV, `The Vandalic War', which was fought in North Africa (modern Tunisia and Algeria) during 533-534 AD. The War was fought between the forces of the Eastern Roman Empire and the Vandal Kingdom of Carthage.

Procopius himself was present at the...
Published on 29 Jan. 2010 by Aussie Reader


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Classical Historian, 18 Sept. 2011
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Arch Stanton (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Works Vol 2. History of the Wars: Books 3 & 4. (Loeb Classical Library). (Hardcover)
Since there are so many of these darn things the review shall be divided into three sections. First, a brief description of the Loeb series of books and their advantages/disadvantages. Second shall be my thoughts on the author himself, his accuracy, as well as his style and the style of his translator. This is of course only my opinion and should be treated as such. The final part shall review what this particular book actually covers.

The Loeb series date back to the turn of the last century. They are designed for people with at least some knowledge of Greek or Latin. They are a sort of compromise between a straight English translation and an annotated copy of the original text. On the left page is printed the text in Greek or Latin depending on the language of the writer and on the right side is the text in English. For somebody who knows even a little Greek or Latin these texts are invaluable. You can try to read the text in the original language knowing that you can correct yourself by looking on the next page or you can read the text in translation and check the translation with the original for more detail. While some of the translations are excellent mostly they are merely serviceable since they are designed more as an aid to translation rather than a translation in themselves. Most of them follow the Greek or Latin very closely. These books are also very small, maybe just over a quarter the size of your average hardcover book. This means that you'll need to buy more than just one book to read a complete work. They are also somewhat pricey considering their size. The Loeb Collection is very large but most of the more famous works can be found in better (and cheaper) translations elsewhere. If you want to read a rarer book or read one in the original language then you can't do better than the Loeb Editions.

There are 7 volumes of Procopius in the Loeb series which include all his known works. Procopius was the last great Classical historian and a personal favorite of mine. His works were written in the middle of the 6th Century during the reign of Justinian when the Empire was once again on the rise. His books are about the wars to reconquer the Western Empire which had fallen in 476. As an author Procopius is highly readable. His works cover a very interesting period and do so with great skill. He is from the Sallustan school of history writing and divides his work into sections based on similar topics instead of following a strictly chronological approach. This makes his books both easier to follow and more entertaining for the reader. While his books are technically focused on the wars they cover much more than that including politics and economic matters. Procopius is also the author of two other very different books. One a very boring panegyric on the building works of Justinian and the other called the 'Anecdota' or 'Secret History' which is basically a collection of every possible slander he could make against Justinian, his wife Theodora, and just about everybody else he'd ever met. As you might gather from those two different books Procopius suffers on accuracy issues. While he doesn't seem to have told direct lies (except in his secret history) his lies of omission are likely to be serious. Unfortunately he is our main source for that era which makes it hard to check him against other sources. Still, even if he fudges facts a little to obscure some points he is unlikely to have completely changed the events described. The translation is quite good.

This volume contains Procopius' two books on Justinian's wars with the Vandals in Northern Africa. These wars were the first in a series of wars that would recover much of the western Empire. The Vandals had dynastic problems which the Romans took advantage of. The Goths were soon to have problems of their own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Classical Account, 29 Jan. 2010
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This review is from: Works Vol 2. History of the Wars: Books 3 & 4. (Loeb Classical Library). (Hardcover)
I have just finished the second volume in Procopius's "History of the Wars". Volume two encompasses books III-IV, `The Vandalic War', which was fought in North Africa (modern Tunisia and Algeria) during 533-534 AD. The War was fought between the forces of the Eastern Roman Empire and the Vandal Kingdom of Carthage.

Procopius himself was present at the commencement of this campaign as Belisarius was sent by Emperor Justinian from Byzantium to wrest control back of North Africa from the Vandals as part of Justinian's reconquest of the West. Overall the campaign was a major success with the Vandal Kingdom destroyed, and Roman authority re-established in the whole of North Africa.

The book is a joy to read, full of captivating accounts of people and places now lost to us. Descriptions and details of battles, skirmishes and betrayals fill the book although not in great detail but still full of interest for the reader who enjoys a good history book.

I loved the style of writing used by the author, here is a sample of what I found so enjoyable:

"And the barbarians, finding that they had no hostile force to encounter them, became the most cruel of all men. For they destroyed all the cities which they captured, especially those south of the Ionian Gulf, so completely that nothing has been left to my time to know them by, unless, indeed, it might be one tower or one gate or some such thing which chanced to remain. And they killed all the people, as many as came in their way, both old and young alike, sparing neither women nor children. Wherefore even up to the present time Italy is sparsely populated....."

Overall a good book, fun and easy to read and I am sure most people who enjoy accounts from the classic period will enjoy reading Procopius "History of the Wars".
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