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Appian's Civil Wars offers a masterly account of the turbulent epoch from the time of Tiberius Gracchus (133 BC) to the tremendous conflicts which followed the murder of Julius Caesar. For the events between 133 and 70 BC he is the only surviving continuous narrative source. The subsequent books vividly describe Catiline's conspiracy, the rise and fall of the First Triumvi Appian's Civil Wars offers a masterly account of the turbulent epoch from the time of Tiberius Gracchus (133 BC) to the tremendous conflicts which followed the murder of Julius Caesar. For the events between 133 and 70 BC he is the only surviving continuous narrative source. The subsequent books vividly describe Catiline's conspiracy, the rise and fall of the First Triumvirate, and Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon, defeat of Pompey and untimely death. The climax comes with the birth of the Second Triumvirate out of anarchy, the terrible purges of Proscriptions which followed, and the titanic struggle for world mastery which was only to end with Augustus's defeat of Antony and Cleopatra. If Appian's Roman History as a whole reveals how an empire was born of the struggle against a series of external enemies, these five books concentrate on an even greater ordeal. Despite the rhetorical flourishes, John Carter suggests in his Introduction, the impressive 'overall conception of the decline of the Roman state into violence, with its sombre highlights and the leitmotif of fate, is neither trivial nor inaccurate'.


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Appian's Civil Wars offers a masterly account of the turbulent epoch from the time of Tiberius Gracchus (133 BC) to the tremendous conflicts which followed the murder of Julius Caesar. For the events between 133 and 70 BC he is the only surviving continuous narrative source. The subsequent books vividly describe Catiline's conspiracy, the rise and fall of the First Triumvi Appian's Civil Wars offers a masterly account of the turbulent epoch from the time of Tiberius Gracchus (133 BC) to the tremendous conflicts which followed the murder of Julius Caesar. For the events between 133 and 70 BC he is the only surviving continuous narrative source. The subsequent books vividly describe Catiline's conspiracy, the rise and fall of the First Triumvirate, and Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon, defeat of Pompey and untimely death. The climax comes with the birth of the Second Triumvirate out of anarchy, the terrible purges of Proscriptions which followed, and the titanic struggle for world mastery which was only to end with Augustus's defeat of Antony and Cleopatra. If Appian's Roman History as a whole reveals how an empire was born of the struggle against a series of external enemies, these five books concentrate on an even greater ordeal. Despite the rhetorical flourishes, John Carter suggests in his Introduction, the impressive 'overall conception of the decline of the Roman state into violence, with its sombre highlights and the leitmotif of fate, is neither trivial nor inaccurate'.

30 review for The Civil Wars

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Leave all your presupposes at the table of contents; Appian and his Civil Wars isn’t going to bore you with a dry tale - he’s going to knock your socks off. Fans of Game of Thrones, House of Cards, or even the not so historically accurate but very watchable HBO series Rome will find plenty between the covers to keep their interest. First a note on the version to buy. John Carter’s modern translation is easy to read and follow throughout Apian’s five books. There are excellent footnotes that shoul Leave all your presupposes at the table of contents; Appian and his Civil Wars isn’t going to bore you with a dry tale - he’s going to knock your socks off. Fans of Game of Thrones, House of Cards, or even the not so historically accurate but very watchable HBO series Rome will find plenty between the covers to keep their interest. First a note on the version to buy. John Carter’s modern translation is easy to read and follow throughout Apian’s five books. There are excellent footnotes that shouldn’t be missed (yes, a two bookmark special) – but before you even begin the main text, I highly recommend Carter’s fantastic introduction and also the appendices. I didn’t know my consul from proconsul, a tribune from an imperium – Carter straightens all of this out in a few important pages and prepares the reader for the Roman political world (as well as great short pieces on the Roman Army, the Senate and other germain topics). I also love singing the praises of any paper book versus an electronic version; I started this on an e-reader and it was so terrible I stopped to do more research and found out that the Penguin Classic / John Carter edition was the way to go. Score one for the trees. How crazy is it that Appian’s work is the only surviving continuous narrative of history encompassing 133 to 35 BCE of the Roman Empire? And what a shit-crazy time it was. There was basically a period of 100 years of ongoing civil war in the Republic/Empire – so much instability it is really a wonder that the entire populous wasn’t bled white. The Julius Caesar assassination and fallout that many readers may find familiar takes the better part of half of the book, but there are so many other really interesting stories and characters leading up to JC’s stage time that are worth knowing. The one thing about this book that I couldn’t believe – and had one of those literal draw drops – was that it ended before the big showdown between Mark Antony and Octavian. You can sense and see it coming, after the fall of Cassius and Brutus and the preparation for power grabbing in the vacuum, but we don’t learn the end of the that story in this narrative. It would be like watching Star Wars up until the point where all of the rebels leave to attack the Death Star and then the movie ends. Yet another great book of antiquity that Vollmann has lead me to read. I can’t recommend this enough to my friends interested in Roman history or books of political intrigue.

  2. 5 out of 5

    max

    The collapse of the Roman republic is one of the most absorbing events in all of world history. Lately I have been somewhat fixated with it; this summer I finally have the long awaited leisure to pursue more in depth reading on the subject. There is a great wealth of historical writers who wrote about the events at issue: Sallust, Caesar, Cicero, Appian, Cassius Dio, Plutarch. There is an impressive roster of famous personalities who dominate this era: the Gracchi, Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Sertori The collapse of the Roman republic is one of the most absorbing events in all of world history. Lately I have been somewhat fixated with it; this summer I finally have the long awaited leisure to pursue more in depth reading on the subject. There is a great wealth of historical writers who wrote about the events at issue: Sallust, Caesar, Cicero, Appian, Cassius Dio, Plutarch. There is an impressive roster of famous personalities who dominate this era: the Gracchi, Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Sertorius, Lucullus, Crassus, Cato, Brutus, Cassius, Caesar, Marc Antony, Octavian, and a huge cast of lesser characters. A great nation begins with an initial period of monarchy (Romulus and his six successor kings ruled from 753 to 509). After expelling the last king, a decision is reached that individual liberties are best preserved through the mechanism of a republican government, which then lasts over four hundred years. There follows a chaotic century of internecine violence, civil war, and bloody political upheaval from 133 B.C. (death of Tiberius Gracchus) to the Battle of Actium and the start of the Augustan principate / monarchy (31 B.C.). How did it happen? When you look at the Roman constitution and its development, the manner in which it evolved and adapted itself over the centuries to new and changing circumstances, the Roman genius for political give and take, compromise, and careful deliberation -- all within a culture that revered tradition and the ancient customs of those who served the state in prior generations -- the persistent question that keeps surfacing is: how could this governmental system have broken down? The fundamental political concept of checks and balances is drilled repeatedly into the heads of American h.s. students (unfortunately, little mention is made that the Framers were intimately familiar with classical history or that checks and balances were invented by the Romans). Those checks and balances which we revere -- which, admittedly, have been refined considerably with the benefit of historical hindsight -- failed the Romans. The republic was supposed to have endured. It did not, and gave way to monarchy and the loss of those precious freedoms that had been enjoyed for centuries. There are various theories as to how it happened. A senate that had outlived its usefulness, a government designed to run a small city-state that was no longer up to the task of governing a vast and far flung empire; the influx into Rome of unemployed citizens whose agricultural work was overtaken by vast numbers of slaves; changes within the military that altered the rules of who served and caused soldiers to look to their commanders rather than the state for their personal fortunes; powerful warlords who manipulated military power to serve their own purposes; a clash between the so called populares and the optimates or senatorial class that was unable to adapt to changing circumstances and solve the social problems that plagued Rome; etc., etc. My fascination with the breakdown of the Roman republic is not unrelated to my dismay both with the current dysfunction of our own federal government and the political chaos that has flared up in so many corners of the world. The fragility of political systems around the globe and the way in which a great nation such as Rome ultimately bowed its neck to accept the yoke of servitude are constant reminders of how the precious freedoms that we take for granted in America could be lost overnight. The great lesson from ancient Rome is very simple: nothing lasts forever. Our current decline -- the rampant greed, corruption and incompetence that mark so much of daily life in both public and private spheres -- is strikingly similar to the problems that arose in the late Roman republic. Economic forces and political shifts that were beyond the capable management of the senate and other institutions marked the fall of the republic. There is much to learn from what went wrong two millennia ago.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    A solid piece of writing formed from 5 books: Sulla, Caesar, War of Mutina, War against Brutus and Cassius and the war against Sextus Pompeius. These books originally formed part of Appian's 24 book history of Rome but only some survive. Reading the first part of the book I was enjoying, but not quite impressed by, the work. Detail is decent and the writing style reasonably good. However, much of the this part of the work is a subject area much covered by other historians such as Tacitus, Plutar A solid piece of writing formed from 5 books: Sulla, Caesar, War of Mutina, War against Brutus and Cassius and the war against Sextus Pompeius. These books originally formed part of Appian's 24 book history of Rome but only some survive. Reading the first part of the book I was enjoying, but not quite impressed by, the work. Detail is decent and the writing style reasonably good. However, much of the this part of the work is a subject area much covered by other historians such as Tacitus, Plutarch and Caesar himself (whose accounts and style I prefer). It is the second half of this work where I really began to appreciate it. In particular, the discussions of the proscriptions of the second triumvirate and the war against Brutus and Cassius were of great interest. That being said, much of the work must be taken with a grain of salt. Appian cites almost no sources, although his general narrative is corroborated by other historians. This draws into question much of the anecdotal examples and talking points, such as supposed conversations of the main figures, and the discussed cases of proscriptions. Appian also clearly has his biases, as with all historians, and combined with the aforementioned lack of cited evidence, creates a problem for consideration in our appraisal of his work. Even so, Appian is by no means a sensationalist like Seutonius who obviously distorts the truth. What Appian writes is plausible given what we already know, but the lack of sources creates problems for his reliability and accuracy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Yann

    tome 1:Les Guerres civiles à Rome, tome 1 tome 2:Les Guerres Civiles à Rome, tome 2 tome 3:Les Guerres civiles à Rome, tome 3 tome 4:Les guerres civiles à Rome : Tome 4 tome 1:Les Guerres civiles à Rome, tome 1 tome 2:Les Guerres Civiles à Rome, tome 2 tome 3:Les Guerres civiles à Rome, tome 3 tome 4:Les guerres civiles à Rome : Tome 4

  5. 5 out of 5

    Roelof Schipper

    Drie sterren voor Appianus van Alexandrië, de man wiens doorkliefde hoofd toch niet de voorkant van deze editie siert; het is Iulius Caesar, de man die sterven moest aan drieëntwintig dolksteken. Iemand schrijft: “Dit is voor de liefhebbers van Game of Thrones”, want: intrige, verraad en doodslag. Die uitspraak snijdt hout in zoverre dat ook de karakters in Game of Thrones te maken hebben met intrige, verraad en doodslag. Tegenwoordig nog altijd gehuld in manhaftige ridderdracht, zwaarden, amazon Drie sterren voor Appianus van Alexandrië, de man wiens doorkliefde hoofd toch niet de voorkant van deze editie siert; het is Iulius Caesar, de man die sterven moest aan drieëntwintig dolksteken. Iemand schrijft: “Dit is voor de liefhebbers van Game of Thrones”, want: intrige, verraad en doodslag. Die uitspraak snijdt hout in zoverre dat ook de karakters in Game of Thrones te maken hebben met intrige, verraad en doodslag. Tegenwoordig nog altijd gehuld in manhaftige ridderdracht, zwaarden, amazones met hun valse sensualiteit, toonbaar gemaakt voor een publiek dat de serie in acht-plus seizoenen slaafs wegkijkt. Nu moet ik denken aan 2018, waarin het Amerikaanse rijk er minstens zo fraai bij staat als het Romeinse Rijk van I. Caesar; verdeeldheid binnen de muren van het witte huis. Er zijn leugens, er is intrige, karakters in een boek, karakters op televisie en geluidsopnames; er is weinig veranderd. Ik zal iets opschrijven over het boek, dat helaas pas halverwege op gang komt. Wanneer de moord is gepleegd, de moordenaars elk hun eigen kant op vliegen, elk richting hun alleenstaande sterfplaats. Ginder wordt er een dodenlijst gepubliceerd, de stadspoorten op slot. Er drijven lichamen in de Tiber, mensen steken hun eigen huis in brand, er wordt gefluisterd in de hal en even later rolt het hoofd van Trebonius als speelbal over straat; Maarten van Rossem zegt: “We zouden het Rome van toen niet anders herkennen dan en stad van eender welk derdewereldland van vandaag” (Dhaka, Asmara, Banjul, Belize City). Het is gevaarlijk, gewelddadig en vies. Appianus naast pak-ze-beet Tacitus en Josephus steekt zakelijk af; het tempo traag, de stof zwaar. Het gevoel van een ordelijke verslaglegging, een historisch dossier waarin personages prima gelijkvormig kunnen zijn, voordrachten stug, hoofdstukken veel. De drama van een belegering, hongersnood als wapentuig; het is gebeiteld in steen en veel verder komt het niet. Een gevoel van herkenning overstijgt een onoverbrugbare tijdsspanne; de mens met invloed vs. degene die nauwelijks vat krijgt op wat dan ook.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jenn Phizacklea

    This is a really fascinating read, tracing the civil strife from Sulla and Marius to the execution of Sextus Pompeius (arguably not the end of the civil wars really, which should probably roll on until Actium, but Appian didn’t apparently think so). It is written as a continuous narrative, so for the first time, I really understood how one war rolled into the next, and began to grasp an answer to many things I’d always wondered: why the civil wars happened in the first place, why the republic ne This is a really fascinating read, tracing the civil strife from Sulla and Marius to the execution of Sextus Pompeius (arguably not the end of the civil wars really, which should probably roll on until Actium, but Appian didn’t apparently think so). It is written as a continuous narrative, so for the first time, I really understood how one war rolled into the next, and began to grasp an answer to many things I’d always wondered: why the civil wars happened in the first place, why the republic never re-emerged after the civil war around Caesar’s asassination, why Octavian emerged as the winner of it all, and many more. The answer to many of these questions is, in a nutshell, the wish of the powerful to hold onto their power, regardless of what they have to trade by way of morals and ethics along the way. There is no end of men who switch sides to save their skin, defect to the stronger party pretending they were compelled to be enemies, or agree to uphold decisions made by people they murdered, or who chopped their friends heads off, if it means they keep their good position. I found it ironic that Appian wrote something along the lines of, thank goodness for Pompeius who saved all the aristocracy who fled to his protection when they were proscribed! Because it wasn’t the aristocracy that created every civil upheaval or anything, and went on doing so for hundreds of years to come... Anyway - one last point. I’m writing about notes again, but John Carter really has done a brilliant job again, providing an accessible translation (without being dumbed down) and fulsome, interesting notes. Highly recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Antonino Coppola

    You can find the "seeds of the end" of the Romans in this book. The terrible civil wars of the Romans fought during the late republican period, were probably the most destructive civil wars fought since history began. A great reference book for the lover of Roman history of the period as well as for those that want to know the price of the PAX ROMANA.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This book is hard reading if for no other reason than its a depressing tale of butchery and murder that culminates in an absolute dictatorship. For me as a modern person, the best part of the book is at the beginning when Appian lays out his thesis for the cause of the decline and fall of the Republic. The view point is surprisingly materialistic, or what we would label as "marxist school of history" in that he attributed the decline and fall of the Republic to larger economic trends and conside This book is hard reading if for no other reason than its a depressing tale of butchery and murder that culminates in an absolute dictatorship. For me as a modern person, the best part of the book is at the beginning when Appian lays out his thesis for the cause of the decline and fall of the Republic. The view point is surprisingly materialistic, or what we would label as "marxist school of history" in that he attributed the decline and fall of the Republic to larger economic trends and considered the individual actors, no matter how skilled or talented, as symptoms of a sickness rather than the cause. He is quite blunt in his diagnosis: the public lands that the Romans won while conquering Italy ought to have been distributed to the plebs which would have strengthened the middle (i.e. soldiering) class and kept the civic minded citizen militia strong. He rightly saw that landowning soldiers were more likely to support strong republican government as the foundation and protector of their property rights. As he saw it, through basic greedy human nature, the senatorial class (and some non-Roman Italian allies) illegally farmed the public lands and after several generations came to see the lands as their property and not public lands at all. After the Punic Wars the Roman military class was devastated both in population and economically and the trend towards large wealthy landowners displacing smallholders accelerated. This had the unfortunate consequence of reducing Rome's military manpower at a time when their ambitions were growing even larger, and also creating a mass of unemployed, angry poor in the city that would have previously been economically productive farmers. The Senatorial class violently opposed all land reform, and allowed the middle class to wither to an inconsiderable state when the only way to meet their military needs was to enlist landless poor into the army with the promise of land as a discharge bounty upon completion of their service. This change in recruitment created an army loyal to their general (the person responsible for ensuring they received their land upon discharge) and not to the state. These broad trends, combined with the Roman aristocracy's desire to out-compete not only their peers but also their ancestors in terms of fame and political influence lead to a literal arms race and in the space of four generations the destruction of their political system. And this, Appian manages to explain far more clearly and succinctly than I can. The achievement of Appian is that while he tells essentially the same narrative as Livy and Plutarch, he tells it with a much more critical historian's eye. Livy identified the same trends, but was extremely reluctant to editorialize, whereas Appian has no such reluctance and is more than willing to say that had the Gracchi been successful in their land reform plans the Republic would likely have been saved. Even if Livy believed that, and as a clear partisan of the senatorial class chances are that he didn't, he definitely didn't share the view, and simply decried the violence and lack of decorum on both sides.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt Shoen

    John Carter's translation of Appian's The Civil War is an extremely good translation of a key text of the Roman Civil War. Appian's work is less known than that of authors like Caesar or Sallust however, his history represents the only continuous narrative of the period of unrest which preceded the rise of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. The five books cover from the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus in 133 B.C. to the death of Sextus Pompey in 35 B.C. The war against Antony and Cleopatra is not inclu John Carter's translation of Appian's The Civil War is an extremely good translation of a key text of the Roman Civil War. Appian's work is less known than that of authors like Caesar or Sallust however, his history represents the only continuous narrative of the period of unrest which preceded the rise of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. The five books cover from the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus in 133 B.C. to the death of Sextus Pompey in 35 B.C. The war against Antony and Cleopatra is not included because the Romans labeled that conflict an foreign war, separate from the civil war period. Of the ancient authors I've read Appian is the only one to discuss the impact of the Gracchi brothers in the creation of the unrest which preceded the wars of Marius and Sulla, and later Caesar and the Senate. I imagine Plutarch says something about their impact in the Lives however I've yet to read his essays on Tiberius or Gaius Gracchus. Nonetheless, Appian's focus on the social issues which preceded war is interesting and a highlight of his work. His most memorable sections were definitely in books III and IV. The political maneuverings of Antony against the Liberators and the distrust which existed between he and Octavian are rarely discussed topics, however Appian focuses intently on Antony during the weeks following Caesar's assassination. The other high point of the narrative occurs in book IV when Appian relates the conflict between Octavian and Lucius Antony. Here like his writing about Antony and the Liberators Appian shines in relating and personalizing an often forgotten part of history. The campaign between Lucius Antony and Octavian is crisp and well developed with a definite appreciation for the persona of Lucius Antony. Despite his excellent writing about obscure incidents Appian fairs poorly when it comes to his description of the Battle of Pharsalus. In all honestly Appian's Pharsalus is poorly written. Read Plutarch or Caesar for good descriptions of the battle, read Appian for the strength of his narration in every other area. Other gripes include the numerous mistakes throughout the text which John Carter diligently provides footnotes and corrections for. Many ancient authors didn't worry too much about accuracy so if you're reading ancient literature you're probably aware of that fact and have made peace with it. All in all I strongly recommend Appian. His writing is interesting and important to the study of the Roman Civil War. The translated text is about five-hundred pages but I finished it as part of a project in five days, it would've gone quicker if I'd avoided the footnotes, but I recommend glancing at them. Most of Appian's errors are minor, however occasionally Carter clues you into important mistakes by the ancient Alexandrian which you'll want to be aware of to better understand the Roman Civil War

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is easily one of the best historical narratives I've ever read concerning the period of civil war resulting in Rome's transition from democracy to autocracy and finally monarchy. Beginning with Marius and Sulla's quests for power clear through until Sextus Pompey's removal as a political and military threat on the sea, Appian's account provides fascinating information that fills in many gaps left by more popular and even many scholarly narratives. For those interested in the political maneu This is easily one of the best historical narratives I've ever read concerning the period of civil war resulting in Rome's transition from democracy to autocracy and finally monarchy. Beginning with Marius and Sulla's quests for power clear through until Sextus Pompey's removal as a political and military threat on the sea, Appian's account provides fascinating information that fills in many gaps left by more popular and even many scholarly narratives. For those interested in the political maneuvering between the various players like Cicero, Cato, and Julius Caesar, there is a great deal of that here. There is also a great deal of good information on the military front. In fact, it should be obvious to anybody sustaining an interest in Roman history that political and military matters are all but indivisable. Yet most modern historians focus on one or the other depending on specialization. The result is that we get only part of the picture, often a skewed one. On top of that, it's the kind of historical narrative that is difficult to put down. Each account is full of rising tension that increases to the very end. So, why only 3 stars? Unfortunately, Appian's history stops with Pompey the Younger's capture by forces commanded by Antony and Octavian. Shortly after this, we know that with every other threat removed Octavian and Antony increasingly turn against one another, resulting in that epic struggle for power. Writing during the reign of Hadrian, Appian should have been able to complete the story and I'm not currently aware why his record stopped where it does. Maybe it didn't survive, or maybe he had good reason for stopping where he did. I don't know. In any case, it was frustrating.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    This morning I completed Appian’s The Civil Wars, a work I enjoyed very much and found easy to read, this volume containing five books from his much larger Roman History, these particular five books relating events from 133 BC, during the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus, to 35 BC, the capture and death of Sextus Pompeius. I was a bit surprised to find the work stopping at this point, four years before Octavian’s final defeat of Antony at the Battle of Actium, but I surmise this those four years m This morning I completed Appian’s The Civil Wars, a work I enjoyed very much and found easy to read, this volume containing five books from his much larger Roman History, these particular five books relating events from 133 BC, during the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus, to 35 BC, the capture and death of Sextus Pompeius. I was a bit surprised to find the work stopping at this point, four years before Octavian’s final defeat of Antony at the Battle of Actium, but I surmise this those four years must be covered in a later book not contained in this present volume. At any rate, this volume relates most of the events occurring during the time that the Roman Republic gradually dissolved, all predating Imperial Rome. Appian’s style is lucid and straightforward, providing details that flesh out the major events of the period, especially the politic maneuvering happening after Julius Caesar’s assassination, and Appian clarifies the roles of minor characters who are often neglected in more cursory histories, roles and characters the knowledge of which illuminate and explicate the positions and strategies of major players like Antony, Brutus, Cassius, and Octavian. He seems objective in his treatment of major figures, providing a balanced assessment of their respective strengths and weaknesses and suggesting that primary motivations were almost always determined by political expediency. Plus ca change, plus ce le meme chose.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John Cain

    I need more stars. Compared to other ancient Roman or Greek writers I mrely thought him OK, but he is far better than two stars compared to most writers. I do not read latin and so I cannot compare translations or really comment upon what he might be like if read in Latin. Some writers simply translate better than others. For the past two or three years I have been reading translations of ancient Greeks and Roman writers. It just seemed like something I should do. When I first read Dante I was a I need more stars. Compared to other ancient Roman or Greek writers I mrely thought him OK, but he is far better than two stars compared to most writers. I do not read latin and so I cannot compare translations or really comment upon what he might be like if read in Latin. Some writers simply translate better than others. For the past two or three years I have been reading translations of ancient Greeks and Roman writers. It just seemed like something I should do. When I first read Dante I was a bit confused as to why Brutus was placed in such an uncomfortable postion for eternity. After reading this book the hatred for Brutus made more sense. If you only get your history from plays and second source writers you are missing a great opportunty to learn on your own. The footnotes in this book are helpful and the maps of some use. I like reading books like this and stopping to google an event or a person referred to. It is a nice way to learn about the past. Appian records or makes up far fewer speechs than Livy but it is very interesting to see how speechs were made before the necessity of sound bits reduced thoughts into quips.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Appian's Civil Wars relates one of the most explosive time periods in all history; this alone makes it essential reading. However, Appian, despite attempting sort of a "highlights-only" chronology, misses many important events (retrievable, though, from others, like Plutarch), and telescopes others beyond all proportion (the years 44-42 take up a third of the book!). Nevertheless, the telling of the Gracchi, Marius vs. Sulla, Spartacus, the assassination of Julius Caesar, Octavian vs. Antonius, Appian's Civil Wars relates one of the most explosive time periods in all history; this alone makes it essential reading. However, Appian, despite attempting sort of a "highlights-only" chronology, misses many important events (retrievable, though, from others, like Plutarch), and telescopes others beyond all proportion (the years 44-42 take up a third of the book!). Nevertheless, the telling of the Gracchi, Marius vs. Sulla, Spartacus, the assassination of Julius Caesar, Octavian vs. Antonius, and the resistance of Brutus and Cassius in chronological sequence is nothing short of riveting. Plus, Appian hints that he may have copied speeches from the extant works of those speaking them, as well as copying down the literature of, what reads like Aesop Fables, the way in which people died or were saved during the proscriptions of the Second Triumvirate. It is said that Karl Marx read this in his leisure time, but truly it is worth all the studious attention one can muster.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Crofut

    This is a difficult book to rate. On the one hand, it deals with an incredibly important subject: the transition of Rome from republican to imperial rule. On the other hand, it does so with the depth and accuracy of an average Facebook posting. Dates are wrong, names are wrong, events have inaccuracies, and it brings the whole narrative into some doubt. But unfortunately, for some aspects (such as the Social War) this is the only account we really have. While I wouldn't discourage someone from p This is a difficult book to rate. On the one hand, it deals with an incredibly important subject: the transition of Rome from republican to imperial rule. On the other hand, it does so with the depth and accuracy of an average Facebook posting. Dates are wrong, names are wrong, events have inaccuracies, and it brings the whole narrative into some doubt. But unfortunately, for some aspects (such as the Social War) this is the only account we really have. While I wouldn't discourage someone from picking this up, I'd recommend Sallust or Cicero or even Caesar first, depending on what one wants to get out of the reading. The first book is worth the effort, the accounts of both proscriptions should be read, and the idea that the Roman leaders faced a difficult choice between keeping the soldiers happy and maintaining the rule of law is important. If you do choose to read this, keep up with the footnotes.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    A very fast paced roman history that covers the years from Sulla and Marius down to the betrayal and death of Sextus Pompeius. Very interesting read, this is the source that many books describing these years at the end of the republic make reference to. So the story may be familiar to people who know the course of events in the late republic and during the civil wars, but I found this to be a very engaging read with wonderful invented speeches delivered by many of the characters at crucial point A very fast paced roman history that covers the years from Sulla and Marius down to the betrayal and death of Sextus Pompeius. Very interesting read, this is the source that many books describing these years at the end of the republic make reference to. So the story may be familiar to people who know the course of events in the late republic and during the civil wars, but I found this to be a very engaging read with wonderful invented speeches delivered by many of the characters at crucial points in the story (because they were invented, these speeches are often dropped from the later books).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Not the greatest of the ancient historians by any stretch of the imagination, but nonetheless gives the reader a flavor for these very interesting and tumultuous times. The 1st century BC may in fact be the true fall of Rome, because what emerged from the Civil Wars bore little resemblance to the Roman Republic that, for all its faults, had a mixed constitution with democratic elements and a diffusion of power, as well as a strong concept of civic virtue. Maybe it is this earlier "fall of Rome" Not the greatest of the ancient historians by any stretch of the imagination, but nonetheless gives the reader a flavor for these very interesting and tumultuous times. The 1st century BC may in fact be the true fall of Rome, because what emerged from the Civil Wars bore little resemblance to the Roman Republic that, for all its faults, had a mixed constitution with democratic elements and a diffusion of power, as well as a strong concept of civic virtue. Maybe it is this earlier "fall of Rome" that is a better analogy for our own times than the actual collapse of the Roman polity five centuries later so commonly cited.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gavin

    This had been on the nightstand for some time. It's something to savour and digest. The book (consisting of 5 books of Appian's Roman history) covers the internal struggles of the first and second triumvirates. There is also a short account of certain matters prior to the first triumviate, mainly concerned with the Gracchi. The Battle of Actium is not reached in this volume because it ends with the stage set for the face-off between Octavian and Antonius, all other pretenders to supreme power ha This had been on the nightstand for some time. It's something to savour and digest. The book (consisting of 5 books of Appian's Roman history) covers the internal struggles of the first and second triumvirates. There is also a short account of certain matters prior to the first triumviate, mainly concerned with the Gracchi. The Battle of Actium is not reached in this volume because it ends with the stage set for the face-off between Octavian and Antonius, all other pretenders to supreme power having been dealt with variously. For me, this is one of the most interesting periods in history Appian spins a good yarn.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gregg Jones

    If you want to know about the interesting times of Rome's Civil Wars from the time of Tiberius Gracchus (133 BC) to the tremendous conflicts which followed the murder of Julius Caesar, (events between 133 and 70 BC) Appian is the only surviving continuous narrative source. However you don't get anything that tell the reader as to why the wars started and what was the political out come. All you can say is that the Roman Republic died and Appian doesn't give any opinion on.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    The brutality of 'civilisation' and progress, then as now, laid bare through epic struggles 2000 years ago. The people, the politicking, the armies, wars and slaughter, all detailed as Rome sets itself as master of the known world and becomes the foundation of today. Forget all those other 'must reads', this, and similar original sources, truly are.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Darío

    I skipped a lot of of the book I have read the same facts in other books and reading them all over again is boring, so I just read small things (most of which regarding Antony). Romans don't appeal to me as they used to but still it is a good book for those who don't know about the Late Roman Republic.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    "The HBO series ROME should have started here. During the first Civil War. "

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ainsley

    Interested in the war between Antony and Octavian? Appian gives a nice narrative. Not as chatty as Plutarch.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Interesting read for the Civil Wars. I did find that because very few dates are mentioned sometimes I had to look something up to reference it with what else was going on at the same time.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Blake

    About halfway through it. So far so good. Appian seems a pretty fair historian. You also get the feel for how much of a badass Caesar was. Veni Vidi Vici!

  25. 5 out of 5

    William

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Lenore

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ann

  28. 4 out of 5

    Markliam Johnson

  29. 4 out of 5

    Belinda Dilbeck-webb

  30. 5 out of 5

    Terri Vlasak

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