The Late Roman Army

The Late Roman Army

Paperback

By (author) Pat Southern, By (author) Karen R. Dixon

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  • Publisher: ROUTLEDGE
  • Format: Paperback | 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 234mm x 15mm | 514g
  • Publication date: 1 May 2000
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0415222966
  • ISBN 13: 9780415222969
  • Illustrations note: 102 illustrations, 83 line drawings, 19 b&w drawings
  • Sales rank: 782,063

Product description

Using a full range of original literary sources, modern Continental scholarship, and current archaeological research, Pat Southern and Karen R. Dixon provide a stimulating overview of the historical period, the critical changes in the army, and the way these changes affected the morale of the soldiers.

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Review quote

'The book is both readable and enjoyable, and it can be heartily recommended as a starting point for the study of the Late Roman army.' - The Classical Review 'There is much in this book to be lauded, and it will be a useful tool for students and teachers of Roman military history and archaeology.' - Jane Webster, University of Leicester

Editorial reviews

This guide to the declining centuries of the Roman military is handy for scholars but sometimes rough going for the general reader. Southern and Dixon (both scholars at the Univ. of Newcastle upon Tyne) show an impressive command of the texts and artifacts documenting the transformation of the Roman army from the late second to the early sixth centuries. The authors synthesize past findings, summarize debates, and contribute their own opinions in a manner useful to serious students of the period. However, the book almost seems designed to ward off casual visitors. Chapter One deals with sources - an undramatic way to begin. The next two chapters cover loosely connected topics: predecessors of the military reformers Diocletian and Constantine; changing frontier troop levels; the establishment of a central field reserve; the increasing number of barbarians drawn into the army. Missing are a coherent overview of the period and sufficient historical context to orient the lay reader; timelines and a glossary help but are not enough. The book's remaining chapters are more accessible, even fun. Under such headings as "Equipment" and "Fortifications," they offer concrete specifics and eye-catching illustrations on such matters as helmets, scabbards, rations, and the practice of cutting off one's own fingers to avoid the draft. Technical details are provided for specialists, while the armchair Romanist can enjoy learning just how fire darts and battering rams work. A chapter on the decline in army morale makes connections to 20th-century war; a short conclusion captures some of the pathos inherent in Gibbon's old subject matter. The generally dry style exhibits flashes of wit, as in this wry comment regarding ancient bureaucratic correspondences: "How the Romans would have loved telephones." (Kirkus Reviews)