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Top Customer Reviews
The book doesn't end in 70 BC, but rather it covers everything to the defeat of Sextus Pompeius, Pompey Magnus's son. Along the way Appian describes the revolt of Spartacus, the Catiline conspiracy, the rise and fall of the First Triumvirate, Julius Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon, and the rise of the Second Triumvirate and the terrible proscriptions that followed.
Appian isn't the best writer of the Classical World, but his book is still worth a read. John Carter's translation is good, and he also provides an introduction where he re-evaluates Appian's work as an 'impressive conception'.
If you have an interest in those pivotal years that ended with the death of the Republic, then this book is a must read. It can be difficult to get into but if you persist you will be rewarded. A thoroughly impressive work of ancient scholarship.
Appian's history, however, is beautifully written (like Sallust's), and is extant on the civil wars up to 35BC. The account of the Ides of March will be of particular interest to many readers. Only one warning to the unwary: the speeches are a standard feature of classical history-writing, but it is generally assumed they are apocryphal. Appian's work also contains inevitable inaccuracies: he has the mob burn down the curia at Caesar's funeral, for example, in revenge upon the site of his murder, but as is implied in earlier chapters, Caesar had been killed in the temple of Venus belonging to Pompey's theatre, where the senate had met that day. This is, nevertheless, a must for anyone interested in the transition from Roman Republic to empire.