A great deal is known about the Roman commanders of the Republic and the civil wars that brought Augustus to the Imperial throne, but after that period most Imperial generals are rather obscure figures, with most military glory going to the Emperor himself.
This book looks at the life and times of Petellius Cerialis, an Imperial general who first appears during the reign of Nero. He was a member of a distinguished family that had provided the Republic with consuls, but had been born into the Empire. He was not a part of the Imperial family at the start of his career, but was related to Vespasian, both by direct family connections and by marriage to Vespasian's daughter (before Vespasian was even a candidate for the throne).
Cerialis is well documents partly because of his family relationships and partly because he took part in two famous conflicts – first the revolt of Boudicca in Britain and then the civil war of 69 AD (the year of the four emperors) and the war on the Rhine triggered by the apparent weakness of Rome.
The author combines a biography of Cerialis with a history of his times and of the development of the Roman general, from the aristocratic amateur of the Republic to the dangerous rival of the Imperial age. The civil war of 69 AD is also covered in some detail, despite Cerialis's fairly minor role in the fighting.
Cerialis comes across as a rather impetuous character, but also as an able general and surprisingly capable administrator. An interesting men living in interesting time, and now the subject of an interesting biography.
Part I: Of Roman Generals and Generalship
1 – Generals Before the Imperial Era
2 – The First Imperial Generals
Part II: Britain
3 – A Legate of the Ninth
Part III: Civil War
4 – The Wilderness Years
5 – Rebel With a Cause
Part IV: Petellius Cerialis Takes Charge
6 – Desperate and Dastardly Deeds Along the Rhine
7 – Aftermath: Return to Britannia and the World Restored
Author: Philip Matyszak
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military