This book differs from earlier entries in this series in that it reaches one of the limits of Roman power. The volumes on Italy or Greece end with the complete conquest of the area and the promise of further expansion. Here we end with the inconclusive campaigns in Armenia, an area that remained on the border of the Roman world and the first clashes with Parthia, one of Rome's longest surviving and most dangerous enemies. This is thus the first time in this series that a book ends with an enemy unconquered.
As the title of the series suggests, most of the book does cover campaigns that ended with Roman victories and conquests. The conquest of Greece meant that Rome's eastern borders now reached towards the kingdoms of Asia Minor and the slowly crumbling Seleucid Empire. The Seleucids were the first major opponent in this area, but they didn’t put up a very convincing fight. Far more dangerous was Mithridates VI of Pontus, whose exploits take up about half of the text, and who the Romans recognised as one of their most dangerous and persistent foes.
The book is nicely structured, with an excellent introduction that explains the situation in Asia Minor and the East when the Romans arrived on the scene, complete with lists of the rulers of the main dynasties involved. Next comes the Roman involvement with the Seleucids, starting with the defeat of Antiochus III and leading on to the eventual destruction of what was left of their empire. After a brief gap Mithridates takes to the stage and comes closest to breaking Roman control over a recent conquest before eventually being forced out of his kingdom. This brought Armenia and then Parthia into the conflict.
The struggle with Mithridates also involves us in the slow crumbling of the Roman Republic, with many of the generals who played a part in the civil wars of the period also fighting in the east. One of the most impressive features of the Roman successes during this period was their ability to conduct costly civil wars and overseas conquests at the same time.
This is a clear and concise account of the Roman Republic's long involvement in the East, a series of conquests that took over a century to achieve.
1 – Roman Interest in Asia Minor and the East
2 – The Seleucids of Syria
3 – The States of Asia Minor
4 – Rome and Antiochus III
5 – From Magnesia to the 'Asian Vespers'
6 – Mithridates VI Eupator – The First War
7 – The Adventure of Murena
8 – The Third Mithridatic War
9 – Mithridates on the Run
10 – Mithridates and Pompey the Great
11 – Pompey's Settlement of Asia Minor and Syria
Appendix 1 – The Ancient Sources
Appendix 2 – Chronology of the Mithridatic Wars
Author: Richard Evans
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military