Carthage’s Other Wars — Carthaginian Warfare Outside the “Punic Wars” Against Rome — Review

Dexter Hoyos has taken a look at something that has very poor coverage, namely Carthage’s Other Wars. We are all aware of the Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome and to a lesser extent, Carthage’s attempts to expand into Sicily and the conflict that arose with Syracuse among others.

The popular image of Carthage is as a maritime, mercantile state that fought a couple of wars against Rome, eventually losing and setting Rome up to to be the only major power in the Mediterranean.

Carthage’s Other Wars – Carthaginian Warfare Outside the ‘Punic Wars’ Against Rome written by Dexter Hoyos (published by Pen & Sword Military, on 18 September 2019, ISBN: 9781781593578 and 235 pages long) sets out to look at Carthage’s other wars.

According to Timaeus the Sicilian Greek, Carthage was founded in the 38th year prior to the first Olympiad, which in modern terms dates the foundation around 814/13 BC. The city was, according to legend, founded by Dido, who was fleeing from the Tyrian King, Pygmalion. She travelled through Cyprus then on to North Africa. Her alternative name in the stories of the time is Elissa.

While there is not a great deal of Carthaginian text, with the exception of Hanno’s Periplus (sea voyage) in Greek translation and referring to the journey west of the Strait of Gibraltar and down Africa’s West coast, there is information in other sources and Hoyos refers to Herodotus, Aristotle, Diodorus of Sicily who referenced Ephorus, Timaeus of Sicily and Philistus. Pompeius Trogus wrote a history that survived to later times and was abbreviated in Justin’s works. Plutarch provided information on Carthage’s involvement in Sicily and Polybius translated Carthaginian texts of Carthage’s treaties with Rome.

The contents of the book are:

  1. Sources of Knowledge
    1. Carthaginian remnants
    2. Greek and Latin Records
  2. Carthage: city and state
    1. Foundation and footprint
    2. The Carthaginian republic
    3. Trade and business
    4. Merchants, landowners, commoners and slaves
    5. Friends, neighbours and potential foes
  3. Fleets and armies
    1. Carthage’s navy
    2. The army
    3. The defences of Carthage
  4. Early Wars: Malchus to ‘King’ Hamilcar
    1. Malchus: fiction or fact?
    2. Malchus: victories, revenge and ruin
    3. The Magonids: ’empire’ builders?
    4. The expedition of ‘king’ Hamilcar
  5. The Revenge of Hannibal the Magonid
    1. The aftermath of Himera
    2. A new Sicilian war: the first expedition of Hannibal the Magonid
    3. Carthage victorious, 406-05 BC
  6. Carthage against Dionysius and Syracuse
    1. Uneasy peace, 405-398
    2. Himilco vs Dionysius
    3. Mago vs Dionysius
    4. Mago and Himilco against Dionysius
    5. Last war with Dionysius
  7. Carthage against Timoleon
    1. Carthage and the turmoils of Sicily
    2. The arrival of Timoleon
    3. Sorting out sources
    4. The enigma of Mago
    5. The battle at the Crimisus
    6. Gisco and peace
  8. Carthage against Agathocles
    1. The advent of Agathocles
    2. Agathocles frustrating Carthage
    3. Carthage at war with Agathocles
    4. Africa invaded
    5. The destruction of Hamilcar
    6. The destruction of Ophellas and Bomilcar
    7. Agathocles fails in Africa, wins in Sicily
    8. The end of the war
  9. The Sicilian stalemate: Pyrrhus and Hiero
    1. The woes of post-Agathoclean Sicily
    2. The war with Pyrrhus
    3. Hiero of Syracuse
  10. Carthage at War in Africa and Spain
    1. Libya: subjects and rebels
    2. The Truceless War: origins and outbreak
    3. Horrors of the Truceless War
    4. Carthage’s victory
    5. Barcid Carthage’s Spanish empire

There is also a Concluding Chapter, List of Plates, Maps, Preface and Acknowledgements, Abbreviations and Reading, along with Endnotes and Index.

The writing style of Hoyos is quite easy to read and flows well. He examines the sources and secondary readings critically and well, although I did have some trouble locating some of his references (for example, Connolly (1981) is referenced in Carthage’s Navy’s endnotes  but there is no reference to his works in the reading list (I could reasonably guess that we are referring to Connolly, Peter (1981), Greece and Rome at War, Macdonald Phoebus Ltd).

Having said that, the book is a solid piece of research into a little covered area of Carthaginian history. I have had an interest in Carthage since the mid-1970s but most of my previous reading was around the Punic Wars. This has opened an entire other area of interest to me in Carthaginian History.

Best of all, the book is currently on special at Pen and Sword – and it is well recommended.

Books to a Deserted Island

At the Virtual Wargames Club last weekend the question was posed, “what book if you only had the choice of one would you take with you to a deserted island?”

Tough question and I will admit that my first choice was one volume from Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships but then I thought, surely a four volume set only counts as one book so I said, all four volumes of Conway’s?

The question got expanded this week over a few emails to four books and I found that if I had to take my four favourites, well, it would be one or two more than four. Strangely, given a choice of four books, I settled for the following, in no particular order:

  1. Warship, and not just Warship 2020 but the full series on the grounds it is just one long continuous book with bits released each year 🙂
  2. Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905: Both Volumes by Sir Julian Corbett – Corbett was an Englishman given access to the Japanese archives to write this, although I would still like to get a copy of the maps
  3. The Tide at Sunrise: A History of the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-05 by Peggy Warner – see a pattern emerging here?
  4. 1904 Korea Through Australian Eyes by George Rose – brilliant book of photographs of Korean life circa 1904 including Varyag (and maybe Korietz) parked at Chemulpo, Incheon, before facing up to six  Japanese vessels and a torpedo boat division – that was only going to end one way. Rose photographed for the 3D viewers popular around the Australian countryside for the entertainment of the cockies and their families in the early 1900s
  5. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown – a book my daughter and I both agree on. An uncomfortable but worthwhile read, and reread
  6. Nomonhan, 1939: The Red Army’s Victory That Shaped World War II by Stuart D. Goldman – the battle that took place around Khalkin Gol that resulted in the peace between Japan and Russia from 1939 allowing Russia to concentrate on the German invasions later
  7. and lastly (although I could name another few hundred, Lost Battles: Reconstructing the Great Clashes of the Ancient World by Philip Sabin (and I guess I should therefore include Simulating War: Studying Conflict through Simulation Games)

OK, so I can’t count! And much as I love ancient history and ancient wargaming, apart from Sabin, everything is 19th and 20th century! I could also be persuaded smuggle some historical fiction as well, perhaps the Hornblower series!

So, an interesting list and books I refer to or read multiple times.

What would you take to the deserted island?


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Napoleon’s Waterloo Army, Uniforms and Equipment — Review

My goodness, where to start with this book. Firstly, it is a heavy tome, weighing in at 1.86 kgs so after sitting with it in the lap and reading through it, it does get a little uncomfortable. This is definitely a book for reading at the desk, which has the added advantage of making it easier to take notes as you do read through it, you will mostly likely refer to the information jam-packed in the book if researching or looking for some specific information on a French regiment present at Waterloo.

Napoleon’s Waterloo Army — Uniforms and Equipment by Paul L Dawson is published by Frontline Books. It was published on 2 October 2019, contains 696 pages of information and 250 illustrations on the Napoleon’s Waterloo Army (ISBN: 9781526705280).

Paul Dawson is an historian and author who has specialised in the Napoleonic Wars, writing about the French Army, mostly around the time of Waterloo. His other volumes with Frontline include:

  • Battle for Paris 1815
  • Marshal Ney At Quatre Bras
  • Napoleon and Grouchy
  • Waterloo: The Truth At Last
  • Napoleon’s Imperial Guard Uniforms and Equipment
  • Napoleon’s Imperial Guard Uniforms and Equipment

The volume on “Napoleon’s Waterloo Army” to some extent extends the volume “Waterloo: The Truth At Last” and covers the troops that fought at Ligny, Quatre-Bras and Waterloo. The author has based his research and writing on thousands of pages of French archival documents and translations. The written information is backed by many photographs of original artefacts. The photographs have been supplemented with many colour illustrations and paintings by Keith Rocco, well known to many military historians, wargamers and modellers. This book is the most complete study of Napoleon’s field army of 1815 that I have seen.

There are 23 Chapters and an Appendix, as well as Bibliography and Endnotes, Introduction, Acknowledgement and Foreward in this book. In addition, from page 427 to 447 there are 21 pages of Keith Rocco Paintings covering various troop types within the French army. I keep turning back to those pages and looking again and again at those paintings.  The rest of the book is structured into the following chapters:

  1. Clothing the Army
  2. Remounting the Cavalry
  3. The Armée du Nord
  4. Logistics
  5. Headquarters Staff
  6. 1st Corps
  7. 2nd Corps
  8. 6th Corps
  9. 1st Cavalry Division
  10. 2nd Cavalry Division
  11. 3rd Cavalry Division
  12. 5th Cavalry Division
  13. 3rd Cavalry Corps
  14. 4th Cavalry Corps
  15. Support Troops
  16. Imperial Guard Heavy Cavalry Brigade
  17. Guard Light Cavalry Brigade
  18. Young Guard Cavalry
  19. Guard Infantry
  20. The Young Guard
  21. The Artillery and Support Troops
  22. Clothing and Equipment of Napoleon’s Last Army
  23. What Happened to the Men?

The Appendix deals with the 1815 Dress Regulations.

To write this book, Dawson has delved into the:

  • National Archives, Kew, London
  • Archives Nationales, Paris
  • Service Historique Armée du Terre, Paris
  • Personal record boxes of a number of personalities of the time
  • Officer’s records
  • Correspondence Hundred Days
  • Prisoners of War
  • Imperial Guard regimental boxes
  • Line infantry regimental record boxes
  • Light infantry regimental record boxes
  • Line cavalry regimental boxes
  • Artillery record boxes
  • Imperial Guard regimental muster lists
  • Line and light infantry regimental muster lists
  • Line cavalry regimental muster lists
  • Line artillery regimental muster lists

along with more recent works and digital sources.

The volume of research that is in this book is staggering and the information provided on the clothing and equipment of the armies appears quite complete with reasonable assumptions and reasoning behind the assumptions where necessary.

Taking the first chapter, “Clothing the Army” as an example, Dawson discusses the cost of clothing the existing army, as well as the additional costs for the new regiments. He looks at the material used for various items on uniform, the colour of those materials, arguing colour differences. For example, he examples a sample of Aurore cloth from 1823 noting that “Aurore has been shown by many artists to be a shade of yellow, when in fact it is a vivid shade of dark orange”. A colour photo of the cloth is shown as well. He looks at all the cloth used for various items of clothing, and at the end of the chapter, I knew more about the cloth used in the Armée du Nord than I ever thought I would learn in my lifetime.

If you are at all interested in the Armée du Nord uniforms and equipment, then this book is an indispensable addition and an absolute must to be added to your bookshelf. Very highly recommended.

French Armoured Cruisers, 1887 – 1932 — Review

John Jordan, well recognised for his many books on ships over the years, has penned with Philippe Caresse, a volume on French Armoured Cruisers from the late 19th Century to early 20th Century (1887 – 1932).

The armoured cruiser was like other cruisers, with long range and designed to project naval power to the colonies and elsewhere but it was designed with heavier belt armour, so able to stand up to any ships except battleships.

The role of the armoured cruiser was taken by the development of the battlecruiser, and as a result the armoured cruisers dropped in importance, but lasted until 1922 when the Washington Treaty effectively scuppered them and set a 10,000 ton limit for cruisers and a maximum 8″ guns for main weapons.

Jules Michelet at Tanjung Priok, Dutch East Indies

Who doesn’t love the shape, form and style of the French ships around the turn of the last century? Funnels fore and aft, tumblehomes and really, a transition to the steel warships of the 29th Century.

The Jules Michelet to the right here was one of the French armoured cruisers of the time, with her sister ship, Ernest Renan, built for speed. It is also one of the vessels covered in the book. As with all the ships covered by this book the section commences with a general discussion of the vessel and how it came to be. There as a profile and plan drawing of the vessel, drawings of the bridge deck, layout of the magazines, main guns with detail, the Barr & Stroud 2-metre rangefinder, the torpedo tubes, secondary armament and so on. The authors then go on to describe her sister ship, the Ernest Renan and cover the differences between the two vessels. Further drawings of the Ernest Renan follow.

The authors also cover the specifications of the ship including size of main guns (194mm or 7.6″), medium guns, ATB guns and torpedo tubes. Displacement (in this case, 12,600 tonnes), protection, crew and so on. Each the the vessels is also illustrated with many contemporary photographs of the times from the collection of Philippe Caresse.

Vessels covered are:

  • Dupuy de Lôme
  • Amiral Charner class
  • Pothuah
  • D’Entrecasteaux
  • Jeanne d’Arc
  • Dupleix class
  • Gueydon class
  • Gloire class
  • Léon Gambetta class
  • Jules Michelet and Ernest Renan
  • Edgar Quinet and Waldeck-Rousseau
Armoured Cruiser (le croiseur cuirassé) Dupuy de Lôme

There is also a section in the book on organisation and the Great War 1914-1918 and it aftermath.

French Armoured Cruisers — 1887 – 1932 by By Philippe Caresse, John Jordan and published by Seaforth Naval on 4 September 2019, is a large format book of 272 pages with 240 illustrations, ISBN: 9781526741189.

If you have any interest in the development of modern steel warships and their history, or indeed the French Navy of the 19th and 20th centuries, this book is a must. I have never been disappointed with John Jordan’s works and this book is so well illustrated by contemporary photographs from Philippe Caresse, the book is, quite simply, almost impossible to put down.

Well recommended!

Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert – Review

Andy Singleton is a professional figure painter. After some encouragement, he has penned Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert. This has been published by Pen & Sword Military. It contains around 200 illustrations over its 157 pages (ISBN: 9781526716316, published on 7 May 2019).

Singleton has broken the book up into two main sections, the first part dealing with the basics, and the second part dealing with specific forces from within the war in North Africa, namely the armies of:

  • Britain and Commonwealth
  • Italy
  • United States of America
  • Afrika Korps

The last two sections in the book deal with Camouflaged Uniforms and Basing.

Each section is split into three levels of complexity, “conscript”, “regular” and “elite”.

Conscript is like the beginning painter level and will get armies onto the table quickly. As the painter develops their skills, or for readers who have painted figures before, the regular and elite levels provide greater degrees of complexity in painting of the figures.

Singleton covers both plastic and metal figures and while all the illustrated figures in the book are either 20mm or 28mm figures, certainly the techniques could be used for figures of 10mm or larger. 6mm and 2/3mm figures require a different approach to painting altogether.

Andy uses much the same techniques in the painting sections with a little variation. The paints her iuses are the popular Army Painter and Vallejo ranges of acrylics and for each figure he is illustrating, he provides a paint bill of materials for both Army Painter and Vallejo paints.

I will admit that my preferred size for World War 2 gaming is 6mm (1/300, 1/285) and as mentioned above, painting figures of that size requires a different approach to painting.

However, recently the publications of Too Fat Lardies for Chain of Command and What a Tanker have me considering some 20mm or 28mm forces. North Africa seems a reasonable location to try those rules, especially with the early war equipment from the Italians and Commonwealth Forces, then the Commonwealth and Germany followed by the introduction of the USA and some Free French forces.

The section on Basing is perhaps the simplest section in the book given that the setting for the forces is North Africa where we are dealing with sand, sand and more sand … except for the dust!

I do think that the softback of this book is a shade expensive for, although if puchased in the context of a club library, would be a good edition. The Kindle or ePub version is better value I think.

The painting advice is good and following Singleton’s suggestions will have the gamer producing either quick armies at Conscript level or very well painted forces at Elite level.

Singleton also has a Painting Guide out for Early Imperial Romans (released in November 2019). Keep an eye out for Andy Singleton’s next book as well – Painting Wargame Figures: Rome’s Northern Enemies due for release in June 2020. Both these books will fit nicely for those of us considering the Too Fat Lardies new rules, Infamy, Infamy!

 

Images of War — Hungarian Armoured Fighting Vehicles in the Second World War

I’ve been in an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) period for seven weeks now, hopefully this time next week some of the restrictions will be lifted here in Makati City. The ECQ only permits us to go outside, one person only per household, for food and drugs and if in a particular industry. A lifting of that ECQ would permit being outsie for other purposes, although, of course, maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask.

On the plus side, this has given me more time in the evenings to catch up on some of my growing pile of reading. There will be a spate of book reviews coming in the near future.

First cab off the rank is an Images of War series on the Hungarian Army. The Hungarian Army was allied to Germany during the Second World War, at least up until the end. The relationship was not without conflict. The Hungarians were, however, possibly the best of the Axis Allies.

Eduardo Manuel Gil Martínez has written about Hungarian Armoured Fighting Vehicles in the Second World War. This is one of the Images of War series from Pen and Sword Military (ISBN: 9781526753816, Published: 2 October 2019). The book runs to 112 pages with 150 rare photographs from wartime archives

The book covers not just the images, but also provides a good potted history of the Hungarian Involvement. The book is organised into:

  • Introduction
  • The Birth of the Hungarian Armoured Forces
  • The Second World War Begins
  • Action in the Ukraine, 1942
  • Reorganization After the Storm, 1943
  • Defending Hungary, 1944
  • The Swansong of the Hungarian Armoured Forces, 1945
  • Conclusions
  • Bibliography

The author covers the development of the Hungarian armour from the Hungarian 3000B, which was modelled on the Renault FT-17 through the Ansaldo tanks purchased from Italy, then covering the Csaba”tank” (I would have thought a description of Armoured Car more appropriate built as it was on a 4×4 chassis), 38M Toldi, Turan I and II and so on. Also included are photographs of the motorised transport used by the Hungarians.

I did learn about the Hungarian annexation of Transylvania from the Romanians in March 1939, a full six months before the invasion of Poland and the official start of the Second World War. The Reich had tried to stop the Hungarians from this action. The author later covers the Hungarian defence of its territory from the Soviets and Romanians towards the end of the war.

The book does suffer a little from occasional dodgy editing although I suspect that issue may have been from the original manuscript not being written in English but later translated.

Overall, this is a great overview with many brilliant photographs of the World War 2 Hungarian Army and it is inspiring me to drag my unpainted Turan, Csaba and Toldi tanks out of the lead pile and on to the painting table.

Best, it is currently on sale at Pen and Sword Books.

Damned Historical Fiction – Sub-Roman British and Arthur!

I knew it would happen. I was reading David Pilling’s Ambrosius for my midnight read with a glass of Dr. Feelgood before retiring for the evening. I thought I could control the urges but the addiction was too strong.

We’ve been in Enhanced Community Quarantine here not for 37 days with at least 9 more days to go, but also with many rumours that the government will extend for an additional two to four weeks.

So in those evening hours, after a glass and a read and just before drifting off to sleep, one’s mind turns to thinking about … Sub-Roman British.

I’m thinking, “it can’t be too hard and won’t require many figures, after all I have a fair spares box from the Vikings in 6mm – the Project Start project which interestingly is a project I started one year ago, then got distracted with some ships.

So, I thought that I could use the the left-over Ostrogoths from that project and use them as your fairly generic hairy barbarian types. That project also provides some barbarian cavalry and archers as well. Once the post returns to normal I would just need to get a few Late Roman types for some of the cavalry and the more Roman looking infantry. Of course that purchase would need to wait until post is flowing freely in the Philippines again and Baccus 6mm recommences moulding. The Anglo-Saxons for the Viking project can be re-purposed. In the Sub-Roman Britain time they were all basically dense warband in wargaming terms. In the Viking times, they had become a little more organised and had a few warband but must were densely packed spears. Voila, instant transformation.

And I was going to eave it there, honest guv’nor, I was.

I started to read book 2 off Pilling’s Leader of Battles Series and started to think back to the Sub-Roman British of Ambrosius’s time. The same army would do for Ambrosius or Artorius, however, why not reproduce Vortigern’s army as well?

And if I cam going to do Vortigern’s, perhaps I should consider the hairy Scots, the Irish, Welsh and Picts of the time. Yes six armies would make a lovely campaign set again, with Ambrosius and Vortigern sometimes combining to see off the Scots and Irish, at other times facing each other across the field of battle.

So, another project to plan and an excuse to rifle through the leftover boxes on the weekend to see what I really need to purchase later to complete this set.

What is worrying is that there are three more books in the Leader of Battles series following. Still, I am resisting the urge for Artorius to travel to Gaul and assist against the Visigoths … I would need more figures for that and as a responsible wargamer I could not consider doing that … yet!

In Action with Destroyers 1939–1945 — The Wartime Memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN — Review

In Action with Destroyers 1939–1945 — The Wartime Memoirs of Commander J A J Dennis DSC RN by Alec Dennis, Edited by Anthony J Cumming was published by Pen & Sword Maritime on 2 November 2017 (ISBN: 9781526718495).

This book contains the wartime memoirs of Alec Dennis, who served on four destroyers during the Second World War, two of them as the commanding officers.

The destroyers were the workhorses of most navies during the Second World War and Commander Dennis saw action in the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Indian Oceans. The two vessels he commanded were HMS Valorous (the fifth HMS Valorous, ex-HMS Montrose, a V-class flotilla leader of the British Royal Navy that saw service in World War I, the Russian Civil War, and World War II) and HMS Tetcott (a Type II British Hunt-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during World War II. She was the only Royal Navy ship to be named after the Tetcott fox hunt).

HMS Tetcott on Russian Convoy Duty

Commander Dennis was mentioned in Despatches three times (Norway, sinking the Scharnhorst and in the North Sea) and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Greece 1942).

The experiences of Commander Dennis provide a great read, reading like a Boy’s Own tale. The text is very easy to read and the book is difficult to put down. The editor, Anthony Cumming, has taken pains to preserve most of Dennis’s recollections although he does admit that Dennis removed some recollections that, fairly or unfairly, were not very complimentary to senior officers.

The book was unfortunately released after Dennis’s death. It is split into the following sections, following Acknowledgements, a Foreword, Maps and Editor’s Introduction:

  1. The End of Peace and the Phoney War
  2. The Finest Hour
  3. Crisis in the Mediterranean
  4. The Far East ann Back
  5. The Tide Turns
  6. The Final Victory

This is followed by the Editor’s Historical Notes, End Notes, Bibliography and an Index. There are around 20 illustrations in the centre of the book as well.

It has been a fairly stressful few weeks for me here but a few pages of this book in the evening transports me to those momentous days of the Second World War and a feeling of what life was like on the workhorses of the fleet – the destroyers. A brilliant read!

 

Armies of Celtic Europe — 700 BC – AD 106 by Gabriele Esposito — Review

This particular book is a follow on from Gabriele Esposito’s previous books in the Armies of the Past series, Armies of the Late Roman Empire AD 284 to 476 by Gabriele Esposito – Review and Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC to AD 30 by Gabriele Esposito – Review. This book looks at the Celts in Europe from 700 BC to AD 106.

Celtic culture was (and arguably still is) a rich culture with a strong oral tradition. Celtic warriors were renowned for their fierce charges and were one of the few ancient civilisations to successfully invade Rome itself where they were ultimately thwarted by a flock of geese.

Esposito uses members of various reenactment groups to provide the illustrations, photographing them in today’s interpretations of Celtic dress. Nine reenactment groups are used and these are resident in France and Italy. While the photographs of the clothing are excellent and inspiring, one small disappointment is the lack of mounted photographs (two only) and no chariots. I suspect this is due to the cost of owning and stabling horses in modern Europe. The only other lack that I could see are the moustaches and hair of the various warriors illustrated. I guess that is because of the need to hold down a job in modern Europe as well.

Armies of Celtic Europe 700 BC to AD 106 — History, Organization and Equipment by Gabriele Esposito was published by Pen & Sword Military on 23 October 2019 (ISBN: 9781526730336) and is 172 pages long with 102 illustrations.

The book follows a similar format to his Hellenistic one and is broken up into the following chapters:

  1. The Origins of the Celts and the ‘Hallstatt Culture’
  2. The ‘La Tène Culture’ and Early Celtic Expansion
  3. The Celtic Conquest of Italy and the Sack of Rome
  4. The Celtic Expansion in Western and Eastern Europe
  5. The Celtic ‘Great Expedition’ and the Birth of Galatia
  6. The Fall of Cisalpine Gaul and the Invasion of the Cimbri and Teutones
  7. The Roman Conquest of Iberia and Gaul
  8. The Decline of the Eastern Celts and the Conquest of Britain
  9. Celtic Arms and Armour from the La Tène Period
  10. Celtic Warfare and Battle Tactics

The book also has an Introduction, Bibliography Index and a list of the Re-enactors who contributed to the book.

Anyone with an interest in the Celts will find this book useful.

The Battle of Actium 31 BC — War for the World by Lee Fratantuono –Review

We all know the Battle of Actium — Antony and Cleopatra’s final act against Octavian and the start of the Augustan Peace in Rome, albeit now with an Emperor. Professor Lee Fratantuono re-examines the ancient evidence and presents a compelling and solidly documented account of what took place in the waters off the promontory of Leucas in late August and early September of 31 B.C.

Rather than present a coherent story cross referencing different sources, Prof Fratantuono has adopted an approach when examining the battle of looking at the sources independently and then analyzing the evidence presented by them to draw his conclusions.

Fratantuono notes in the preface that his,

“interest in Actium has romance as its genesis: the twin lures of poetry and cinema, the poets of Augustan Rome and the cinematic depiction of the battle in Mankiewicz’s 1963 Cleopatra, a film that despite is numerous problems of both film quality and historical accuracy, was a contributing factor to [his] early interest in antiquity”

He goes on later to note that the methodology used in this study “will be to examine closely the surviving literary attestation of the naval conflict at Actium, with a view to reconstruction and analysis of what might have happened”.

This is the approach he takes with the first part of the book looking at Greek Historical Sources. These are:

  1. the Evidence of Plutarch
  2. The Lost Appian
  3. The Evidence of Dio Cassius
  4. Strabo’s Geography
  5. The Evidence of Josephus

The Second Part deals with Roman Historical Sources

  1. Velleius Paterculus
  2. Lost Roman Sources
  3. Octavian Himself
  4. Florus’ and Eutropius’ Detached Accounts
  5. The Evidence of Orosius

The Third Part looks at Actium in Verse

  1. The Shield of Aeneas
  2. Horace’s Epodes — The Earliest Evidence?
  3. Horace’s Cleopatra Ode
  4. The Evidence of Elegy: Propertius
  5. The Allegorized Actium
  6. The Lost Carmen de Bello Aegyptiaco/Atiaco

Part Four then is Analyzing the Evidence

  1. So What Really Happened?
  2. The Birth of a Romantic Legend

Part Five examines the Aftermath

  1. ‘Death Comes in the End’

The book finishes with an Afterword looking at Actium and Roman Naval Practice.

There is, as well, a preface and introduction as well as bibliography, index, endnotes and further reading. There are also a couple of maps and battle dispositions as well.

All-in-all I enjoyed reading this, especially as it introduced me to some areas I had managed to avoid all these years, namely the literary and poetic evidence – I guess there is more than just Plutarch and Dio Cassius.

Prof Fratantuono concludes at the end that Antony intended to fight and fight he did at Actium. He also discusses the involvement of the Egyptian vessels and concludes that they must have fought that day as well, either as part of the main battle or during the breakout at the end of the day. Prof Fratantuono is certain that Antony was planning on winning the battle that day, and so he is at odds with the views of the previous writer’s on the battle who suggested that Antony and Cleopatra always intended flight, or that they intended to launch a withdrawal that could lead to a strategic victory.

Antony and Cleopatra were planning on winning that day. The withdrawal at the end of the day, tactical or not, was a loss. The fleet remaining would have surrendered quickly and land forces in Greece and the East would also have surrendered to Octavian (and did).

Prof Fratantuono also hazards some estimates of the number of ships involved in the battle by looking at the numbers given in Plutarch, Florus and Orosius. Plutarch, for example, estimated that Antony and Cleopatra had a fleet of 500 ships to Octavian’s 250. Orosius however estimated the Antonian fleet at 200 ships. There were 60 Egyptian vessels, which if added to  Florus’ estimate for Antony’s fleet of 170 ships gives a total of 230 ships. Similar numerical discord exists between Plutarch’s estimate of Octavian’s fleet of 250 vessels and Florus’ estimate of 400 ships. There is some discussion on whether these are beaked vessels only but Prof Fratantuono concludes around 250 vessels for Octavian against 230 in the fleet of Antony and Cleopatra would seem a reasonable estimate. This seems a workable estimate — if outnumbered 2:1 it would be unlikely that Antony would give battle, similarly with Octavian. 

The Battle of Actium 31 BC — War for the World was published by Pen & Sword Military on 31 May 2016 (ISBN: 9781473847149) and consists of 194 pages.

I found Prof Fratantuono’s writing style easy to read and his discussion is, in my opinion, a good discourse of this topic. It now sits on my bookshelf with other ancient naval tomes.