Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity

Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity

Paperback

By (author) J. E. Lendon

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  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 480 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 234mm x 31mm | 658g
  • Publication date: 1 September 2006
  • Publication City/Country: New Haven
  • ISBN 10: 0300119798
  • ISBN 13: 9780300119794
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Sales rank: 196,738

Product description

What set the successful armies of Sparta, Macedon, and Rome apart from those they defeated? In this major new history of battle from the age of Homer through the decline of the Roman empire, J. E. Lendon surveys a millennium of warfare to discover how militaries change-and don't change-and how an army's greatness depends on its use of the past. Noting this was an age that witnessed few technological advances, J. E. Lendon shows us that the most successful armies were those that made the most effective use of cultural tradition. Ancient combat moved forward by looking backward for inspiration-the Greeks, to Homer; the Romans, to the Greeks and to their own heroic past. The best ancient armies recruited soldiers from societies with strong competitive traditions; and the best ancient leaders, from Alexander to Julius Caesar, called upon those traditions to encourage ferocious competition at every rank. Ranging from the Battle of Champions between Sparta and Argos in 550 B.C. through Julian's invasion of Persia in A.D. 363, Soldiers and Ghosts brings to life the most decisive military contests of ancient Greece and Rome. Lendon places these battles, and the methods by which they were fought, in a sweeping narrative of ancient military history. On every battlefield, living soldiers fought alongside the ghosts of tradition-ghosts that would inspire greatness for almost a millennium before ultimately coming to stifle it.

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Author information

J. E. Lendon teaches history at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Empire of Honour: The Art of Government in the Roman World.

Review quote

"fast-paced, cunningly constructed and supplied with an eerie final twist... deserves to be read far beyond the confines of university classics departments, because its theme is a universal one: the impulse that drives men to go to war." Sunday Telegraph "Soldiers and Ghosts is one of those rare books that powerfully challenges received opinion and demands attention. At the same time, it is a wonderful read that should hold appeal for any layman with an interest in the Greeks and Romans or simply in the history of warfare." Donald Kagan, author of The Peloponnesian War "In a wide-ranging account that much impressed the judges of the History Today/Longman Book Prize, Jon Lendon provides an arresting study of war and battle in classical antiquity." Jeremy Black, History Today "An excellent starting point for readers interested in the military histories of Greece and Rome." Nicholas E. Efstathiou, Military History "Brilliantly analyzed." William Grimes, New York Times"