Non-Book Review: Germanicus

Germanicus:  The Magnificent Life And Mysterious Death Of Rome’s Most Popular General, by Lindsay Powell

As a frequent reviewer of books relating to Greek and Roman History from the De Re Militari [1], the dwindling supply of books available for the moment to review and the fact that there were two copies of this book available made this book appear to be a worthwhile one to me.  I must admit that while I have read a great deal about the early Roman Empire, Germanicus is not someone I happen to know very much about.  To be sure, he is mentioned quite often in books about the early Roman Empire as being a figure of hope who simply was not able to live up to the expectations and wishes of the Roman populace, and his death at an early age has been viewed as very suspicious by historians ancient and modern.  Given the fact that Germanicus is viewed so highly, it is probably surprising that this book is able to claim itself as the first modern biography of this figure of considerable importance within the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

In terms of its contents, this book is about 250 pages before it gets to its footnotes.  This means that it is not a particularly long book, at least, which should allow me to read and review it before too long.  From the looks of it, the book is mostly text but it includes some maps of the operations and travels of Germanicus as a Roman general as well as some artifacts that reference him.  The author, or at least whoever wrote the text on the back cover, claims that this book combines a tale of coming of age, a military history, a tale of political intrigue, as well as a murder mystery.  These are good genres to combine, and it promises to be an interesting read, I must agree.  Germanicus is an example of the way that being close to power because of one’s connections by blood and marriage make one a target of insecure relatives on the throne.  Sometimes one is close enough to the imperial line that one has the choice only of whether to revolt first or be eliminated, and sadly Germanicus did not have an active role in deciding his fate, despite his loyal service to the Roman empire over the course of his busy life.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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