- Hardcover: 406 pages
- Publisher: Routledge (28 Mar. 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415146879
- ISBN-13: 978-0415146876
- Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,766,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars AD 363-628: Pt. 2 Hardcover – 28 Mar 2002
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"This is a period of vital importance for students of both Byzantium and of the pre-Islamic Middle East, and Greatrex and Lieu's book will be a standard work. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above."-J.A.S. Evans, "Choice
From the Back Cover
The book is a uniquely valuable resource for scholars and students interested in a period of Roman history that is attracting increased attention.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Nonetheless, the book has a few flaws. The major one is its lack of visual sources. It calls itself a "documentary history", but with a few plates of the Naqs-i Rustam and Firuzbad would go a long way to providing some more sources from the Sassanian side, as very few exist in this period. This is not asking a whole lot. These rock reliefs provide a lot of information on how the Sassanian kings viewed themselves, and putting a few places is not much of a stretch. The maps also weren't all that great. They were fairly dark and important regions often vanished into the margins, as they were spread over a couple of pages. The one with Roman roads in Syria and Mesopotamia was the only one that was any good, as a cursory search did not turn up any more accessible maps of the Roman roads in that region. The fact that the maps are significantly better in the second volume suggests that this was a clear problem in the first volume, and the authors fixed it. My final criticism is that the book is not complete. You need a copy of Ammianus Marcellinus for the later chapters, because he is just summed up, and the text itself is not provided. The little snippets that they give are virtually useless on their own, but you can't understand the campaigns of Constantius II or Julian without Ammianus, so those sections of the books are incomplete at best. This was presumably done for copyright reasons, but there is no reason that the authors couldn't have made a new translation of the relevant sections, as Ammianus wrote in Latin. It would have expanded this volume significantly, but without Ammianus it is incomplete.
These quibbles are minor in comparison to how accessible many of the obscure Armenian, Arabic and later Byzantine histories have been made in regard to the Eastern frontier. This is a first-rate sourcebook, although it is not perfect. Highly recommended.
Prepared by two of the most well-known scholars of Late Antique history, the book is a delightful academic work which might appeal to the more serious lay audience as well. It escapes the usual dryness of sourcebooks and primary source collections by adding a narrative, providing background information for the events, and comparing the accounts.
The particular strength of the book lies in its use of the lesser known sources such as the Chronicle of Zuqnin or Zachariah of Mytilene.
In some cases, one can argue that better uses could be made of Middle Persian narrative sources and later accounts, although the credibility of those has been seriously questioned by many scholars.
Another possible issue with the book is the use of end-notes. While the decision of the editors to use them is understandable, the absence of extra notes as footnotes discourages one's reference to them and at times makes the work a little hard to understand. I seriously suggest a conversion of the endnotes to footnotes in the future editions.
Both Lieu and Greatrex should be thanked for this effort which is sure to become a classic and a handbook for all students.