The book “Romans at War: The Roman Military in the Republic and Empire” by Simon Elliot is a book describing the Roman army at war in a thorough and interesting way, due to the multitude of illustrations and graphics that beautifully diversify the content.
Dr Simon Elliot is a famous British writer who already has written numerous books on ancient history, especially ancient Rome. An archaeologist by education, he focuses primarily on the study of the Roman presence in Britain, especially the Roman navy in this region – Classis Britannica. His interests are visible in the book, as he provides us with a lot of information about Roman history and military in relation to the island behind Oceanus.
I must admit that reading this book was a real pleasure for me. I highly appreciate the books that combine not only very substantive and tailored content for the readers but also present the discussed issues in a visual way. Beautiful photos, graphics and maps allow us to better understand warfare, battle plans or get closer to Roman culture.
As the author points out in the subtitle, the subject of the book is Roman military in the times of the Republic and Empire; it should be noted, however, that the author conducts a more complex analysis of the history of Rome, referring to social changes, political events and the rule of emperors. In addition, there are lists such as: the chronology of major events in history, a dictionary of Latin words or, for example, a list of legions and auxilia units during the principate.
The reader learns about the evolution of Roman troops from the Hoplite type (early Republic), through heavy infantry (middle or late Republic and Principate), to more mobile and barbarian-dominated troops (Dominate). We can get acquainted with the knowledge about auxiliary troops, sea fleet and mercenaries. We get to know the Romans’ fighting style in selected, for example, battles. In addition, the last chapter deals with the issue of selected allies and rivals with whom the Romans had to cooperate or compete throughout history.
All in all, Oxbow Books did a really great job on publishing the book. The book was published in A4 format, in a hardcover, with glossy paper and extremely colourful illustrations. The content itself is extremely interesting and allows you to get to know the Roman military machine that dominated the Mediterranean area for several hundred years.