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Civil Wars

4.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Clarendon (1902)
  • ASIN: B0018X2BQY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Format: Paperback
Appian's account of the Roman Civil Wars seems to be a much ignored text. He wasn't a witness to the events like Caesar, and he wasn't a great biographical writer like Plutarch. Yet his work stands as the only unbroken account of the years 133 to 70 BC, making his history a rather special one.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Classic of ancient history, well translated & full of useful lessons about how the marvellously democratic Roman Republic (510-49 bc) was destroyed by its own successful imperialism & the conflicting ambitions of rival military dictators.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Appian's Civil Wars forms the only surviving continuous narrative of the Roman Republic's last century. This is the period typically attributed to the fall of the Republic, and indeed Appian begins his history with the Gracchi, the violence around their tribunates marking, in his view, the origins of constitutional breakdown. That Appian begins with Tiberius Gracchus shows sophistication in discerning underlying historical causes, and an understanding of politics well beyond the narrow realm of great men. The problem is that the period of republican decline is only covered in summary fashion, and most of Appian's work describes what happened after Caesar crossed the Rubicon. Thus the 133-49BC narrative takes all of ninety pages, leaving much unanswered. Indeed, Sallust is probably a more interesting source on the late Republic, if only because he was actually a contemporary (Appian wrote two centuries after the fact; it is most likely the lack of sources that constrained his narrative).

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are interested in ancient Rome then this is one of the standard primary (or, to be pedantic, ancient secondary)sources. It is very easy to read so don't be put off by the fact that it is a "classic".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's OK, but this series uses a translation from 1869 and the translation was rendered differently then. I bought this for my Kindle but the Penguin Classic version by John Carter is a much easier read.
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