Do you have a favorite ancient source/book?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus Maximus, Jan 15, 2020.

  1. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    On dark evenings like this it is nice to have a little fun. That's why I thought it would be fun to compile lists of favorite books about ancient history.

    For me personally, books on history are very important because it allows me to gain new information and learn more about the emperors depicted on coins. I also like to take a critical look at antique sources, to ask questions about whether the information provided is correct.

    But now to the point.

    3.Herodian, history of the Roman empire from the death of Marcus Aurelius to the reign of Gordian III
    This was one of the first ancient sources that I read. The book is interesting because it describes the impetus for the crisis of the third century. The writer has his limitations, but describes well what happened in the period in Rome. The author is also fairly neutral. Although the style is not good, the author can describe a lot of information in a short time frame.

    2.Tacitus Agricola
    A short book by Tacitus about the career of his father-in-law Agricola. The book continues with an occasional highlight such as the battle of Mon Graupius. In the end, the emotion bursts and the hatred of Domitian becomes clear, because he did not grant Agricola glory and probably had him poisoned. I think this book is great because it is not too long-winded, And Tacitus writes some very personal pieces.

    1. Tacitus Histories

    The histories of Tacitus are my number one. Originally this book described the beginning of 69 to the death of Domitian. Unfortunately, only four of the total of fourteen books are left. The remaining books describe the year of the four emperors and the rise of the emperor Vespasian. What I love about this book is that Tacitus has the gift of giving excellent character descriptions in short sentences. His book is not only historically interesting, it is also strong stylistically.

    To make it legal a coin from the time period of the Histories.
    Vespasian 69-79
    AR Denarius
    struck January-June 70
    laureate head right.
    Pax seated left, holding branch and caduceus.
    Ric 29

    Do you have also favorite ancient sources / books?
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  3. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    "Sogdian Traders". Great book detailing the extent Sogdians controlled the Silk Road, even to this day certain ancient trade cities have families with Persian names living there.
  4. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray Smiles, everyone! Supporter

    I enjoy flipping through my copy of:
    Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum Part 6 Palestine-South Arabia

  5. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    It's hard to beat Josephus' The Jewish War as far as primary sources go for the Flavian era. The Loeb edition has the best English translation, IMHO.
  6. Nicholas Molinari

    Nicholas Molinari Well-Known Member

    Thucydides or Diodorus Siculus for me.
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  7. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Flavius Josephus is indeed an interesting author. What I like about him is that his historical work is described from a different view point than most other Roman sources.
    I have read only his History of the Jews.
    But the Jewish war is on the program.

    I think if monks had done their job better;)
    The Lost ten books of the Histories gived us a huge amount of information about the Flavian period that we don't have now.
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  8. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Thucydides is indeed an interesting author. I have read a part of his book. But my attention went too fast (it is so thick). Hopefully I will read it again.

    I had never heard of Diodorus Siculus. But after seeing some information, I have now added it to my reading list.
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  9. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Looks like a nice book @Deacon Ray.
    Deacon Ray likes this.
  10. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Sounds interesting!
  11. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    I'm a rank novice when it comes to the primary sources, having only read Suetonius, Tacitus' Agricola and many passages from Dio and the Historiae Augustae relating to specific areas of interest, but I am now working my way through the rest of Tacitus, and hope to carry on from there.

    I have read the first three books of Gibbon, and a lot of more recent scholarship, but the field is so vast that you could spend a life time it seems.

    I will definitely be adding Herodian to the list.
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  12. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray Smiles, everyone! Supporter

    I have a tendency to use it as my Want Catalog—I want one of those and I’d also like one of those...and so on ;) The other nice feature of the book is that the coins are printed actual size.

    I’d also like to add that I noticed where you’re from and wanted to say that I love the Netherlands. I lived there for a while when I was a student during the last century and have many fond memories.

    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
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  13. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Nice to hear that you love our country:) Where in the Netherlands did you live then?
  14. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you've read quite a few books. Herodian is definitely recommended. If you are interested in the everyday Roman life of a rich man, then the letters of Pliny the Younger are also advisable (unfortunately he is a bit arrogant).
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  15. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    Both the Plinys are on my to read list. I am quite keen to read the letters to Trajan if nothing else.

    I am most looking forward to getting stuck into the Elder Pliny's Encyclopedia. I have a thing for odd and antiquated compendiums, and I have always admired big and ambitious projects. For the same reason I love Burton's translation of the 1001 Nights.
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  16. Andrew McMenamin

    Andrew McMenamin Well-Known Member

    For Roman coin history, two of my favorites are:
    Roman Coins by Harold Mattingly (1967); ISBN 0-942666-46-1

    A Dictionary Of Roman Coins. Republican And Imperial by Seth Stevenson with the assistance of C. Roach Smith and Frederick Madden (1964); ISBN 0-900652-60-8

    Both available in .pdf on the internet, but I prefer “real” books. Good luck and happy reading!
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