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Author Topic: Book Review: Empire of the Black Sea  (Read 260 times)

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Offline Virgil H

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Book Review: Empire of the Black Sea
« on: July 10, 2022, 05:50:47 pm »
Empire of the Black Sea: The Rise and Fall of the Mithradatic World
Duane W. Roller, Oxford University Press; Illustrated edition (July 13, 2020), 296 pages

This is, surprisingly, one of the few books in English about the Kingdom of Pontus, one of the last of the post-Alexander the Great Hellenistic kingdoms that resisted the Romans until 63 BC. A fair amount is known about the last King, Mithradates VI, very little about his predecessors and the earlier days of the Pontic Kingdom. The author did an excellent job of putting together a history from the beginning, starting after the death of Alexander the Great. I highly recommend this book for those interested in this very important, yet little known power in Asia Minor and beyond.

Fully half the book is devoted to Midradates VI, which is understandable as he reigned for 57 years and was the person most responsible for interacting with the wider Greek and Roman world. The first half deals with the beginnings of the kingdom with Mithradates I (the Founder) through his father Mithradates V. The kingdom lasted from around 280 - 63 BC, and at one point included huge areas, including coasts on virtually the entire Black Sea. And, in fact, the northern Black Sea areas remained under Mithradatic dynasty control after the downfall and death of Mithradates VI.

The book also provides excellent discussions of Pontic involvement in other areas of Asia Minor, such as Pergamon, Bithynia, and cities such as Ephesus. In addition, intermarriages and alliances with the Seleucids and Ptolemies are covered, as well as Armenia and islands such as Rhodes and centers such as Athens and Delos.

All in all, a good book put together skillfully by the Dr Roller (Emeritus Professor at Ohio State University) with so little information available. He relies almost exclusively on ancient sources, also using some archaeological and numismatic evidence. He is quite upfront about the deficiencies in the knowledge base.

This one I highly recommend to anyone interested in Pontos and surrounding areas and one of the last Hellenistic rulers to resist the Romans.

Offline Joe Sermarini

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Re: Book Review: Empire of the Black Sea
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2022, 07:31:02 pm »
Thanks for the review. It does sound very interesting.
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