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About Philip Matyszak
At other times, when there's some information I want, and there's no readily available book that offers this, I write that book too. Some of my students (I also teach) have never before been introduced to the ancient world. It's a fascinating place, as different as any alternative universe, but real. I always get excited by exploring there, and there's always something new to find.
At various times, I've lived on three different continents, and spent several wonderful years in Italy living right on top of the material I was writing about. I'm now in Canada with a home deep in the mountains of British Columbia, but there's a part of me that is still in Rome lurking in the shadows of the ancient forum.
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A chronicle of forty forgotten ancient civilizations which highlights the important contributions that each has made to modern society.
The ancient world of the Mediterranean and the Near East saw the birth and collapse of great civilizations. While several of these are well known, for all those that have been recorded, many have been unjustly forgotten. Our history is overflowing with different cultures that have all evolved over time, sometimes dissolving or reforming, though ultimately shaping the way we continue to live. But for every culture that has been remembered, what have we forgotten?
This thorough guide explores those civilizations that have faded from the pages of our textbooks but played a significant role in the development of modern society. Forgotten Peoples of the Ancient World covers the Hyksos to the Hephthalites and everyone in between, providing a unique overview of humanity’s history from approximately 3000 BCE–550 CE. A wide range of illustrated artifacts and artworks, as well as specially drawn maps, help to tell the stories of forty lost peoples and allow readers to take a direct look into the past. Each entry exposes a diverse culture, highlighting their important contributions and committing their achievements to paper.
Forgotten Peoples of the Ancient World is an immersive, thought-provoking, and entertaining book for anyone interested in ancient history.
The author of Sparta: Rise of a Warrior Nation continues his revealing history of the Ancient Greek city-state in this chronicle of its decline and defeat.Universally admired in 479 BC, the Spartans became masters of the Greek world by 402 BC, only for their state to collapse in the next generation. What went wrong? Was the fall of Sparta inevitable? In Sparta: Fall of a Warrior Nation, Philip Matyszak examines the political blunders and failures of leadership which combined with unresolved social issues to bring down the nation—even as its warriors remained invincible on the battlefield.
The Spartans believed their society was above the changes sweeping their world. And by resisting change, they were doomed to be overwhelmed by it. But the Spartans refused to accept total defeat, and for many years their city exercised influence far beyond its size and population. This is a chronicle of political failure—one rich in heroes, villains, epic battles and political skullduggery. But it is also a lesson in how to go down fighting. Even with the Roman legions set to overwhelm their city, the Spartans never gave up
The Spartans of ancient Greece are typically portrayed as macho heroes: noble, laconic, totally fearless, and impervious to pain. And indeed, they often lived up to this image. But life was not as simple as this image suggests. In truth, ancient Sparta was a city of contrasts.
We might admire their physical toughness, but Spartans also systematically abused their children. They gave rights to female citizens that were unmatched in Europe until the modern era, meanwhile subjecting their conquered subject peoples to a murderous reign of terror. Though idealized by the Athenian contemporaries of Socrates, Sparta was almost devoid of intellectual achievement.
In this revealing history of Spartan society, Philip Matyszak chronicles the rise of the city from a Peloponnesian village to the military superpower of Greece. Above all, Matyszak investigates the role of the Spartan hoplite, the archetypal Greek warrior who was feared throughout Greece in his own day and has since become a legend. The reader is shown the man behind the myth; who he was, who he thought he was, and the environment which produced him.
Walk a day in a Roman's sandals.
What was it like to live in one of the ancient world's most powerful and bustling cities - one that was eight times more densely populated than modern day New York?
In this entertaining and enlightening guide, bestselling historian Philip Matyszak introduces us to the people who lived and worked there. In each hour of the day we meet a new character - from emperor to slave girl, gladiator to astrologer, medicine woman to water-clock maker - and discover the fascinating details of their daily lives.
Spend 24 hours with the ancient Athenians. See the city through their eyes as it teeters on the edge of the fateful war that would end its golden age.
Athens, 416 BC. A tenuous peace holds. The city-state's political and military might are feared throughout the ancient world; it pushes the boundaries of social, literary and philosophical experimentation in an era when it has a greater concentration of geniuses per capita than at any other time in human history. Yet even geniuses go to the bathroom, argue with their spouse and enjoy a drink with friends.
Few of the city's other inhabitants enjoy the benefits of such a civilized society, though - as multicultural and progressive as Athens can be, many are barred from citizenship. No, for the average person, life is about making ends meet, whether that be selling fish, guarding the temple or smuggling lucrative Greek figs.
During the course of a day we meet 24 Athenians from all strata of society - from the slave-girl to the councilman, the vase painter to the naval commander, the housewife to the hoplite - and get to know what the real Athens was like by spending an hour in their company. We encounter a different one of these characters every chapter, with each chapter forming an hour in the life of the ancient city. We also get to spy on the daily doings of notable Athenians through the eyes of regular people as the city hovers on the brink of the fateful war that will destroy its golden age.
Fought between the Roman Republic and the Kingdom of Pontus, the Mithridatic wars stretched over half a century and two continents. Their story is one of pitched battles, epic sieges, double-crosses, world-class political conniving, assassinations and general treachery. Through it all, one rogue character stands out among the rest. Mithridates VI of Pontus was a connoisseur of poisons, arch-schemer and strategist. He was as resilient in defeat as he was savage in victory.
Few leaders went to war with Rome and lived to tell the tale, but in the first half of the first century BCE, Mithridates did so three times. At the high point of his career his armies swept the Romans out of Asia Minor and Greece, reversing a century of Roman expansion in the region. Even after fortune had turned against Mithridates, he did not submit. Up until the day he died, a fugitive driven to suicide by the treachery of his own son, he was still planning an overland invasion of Roman itself.
This thrillingly vivid history recounts a pivotal battle of the Peloponnesian War, bringing the drama and personalities of the Sicilian Expedition to life.The Athenian expedition to conquer Sicily was one of the most significant military events of the classical period. At the time, Athens was locked in a decades-long struggle with Sparta for mastery of the Greek world. The expedition to Sicily was intended to win Athens the extra money and resources needed to crush the Spartans. With the aid of new archaeological discoveries, Expedition to Disaster reconstructs the mission, and the ensuing siege, in greater detail than ever before.
The cast of characters includes Alcibiades, the flamboyant, charismatic young aristocrat; Nicias, the ageing, reluctant commander of the ill-fated expedition, and Gylippus, the grim Spartan general sent to command the defense of Syracuse. It was he who turned the tables on the Athenian invaders. They were surrounded, besieged, and forced to ask for mercy from a man who had none. Philip Matyszak's combination of thorough research and gripping narrative presents an episode of ancient history packed with colorful characters and dramatic tension.
In the year 82 BC, after a brutal civil war, the dictator Sulla took power in Rome. But among those who refused to accept his rule was the young army officer Quintus Sertorius. Sertorius fled, first to Africa and then to Spain, where he made common cause with the native people who had been savagely oppressed by a succession of corrupt Roman governors. Discovering a genius for guerilla warfare—and claiming to receive divine guidance from Artemis—Sertorius came close to driving the Romans out of Spain altogether.
Rome responded by sending reinforcements under the control of Gen. Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, who would go on to become Pompey the Great. The epic struggle between these two commanders, known as the Sertorian War, is a masterclass of ancient strategy and tactical maneuver. Massively outnumbered, Sertorius remained undefeated on the battlefield, but was eventually assassinated by jealous subordinates, none of whom proved a match for Pompey.
The tale of Sertorius is both the story of a people struggling to liberate themselves from oppressive rule, and the story of a man who started as an idealist and ended almost as savage and despotic as his enemies. But above all, it is the story of a duel between two great generals, fought between two different styles of army in the valleys of the Spanish interior.
Philip Matyszak relates how, over the next two-and-a half centuries, Rome conquered and took over these kingdoms while adopting so much of Hellenistic culture that the resultant hybrid is known as ‘Graeco-Roman’
Refreshingly, the story is largely told from the viewpoint of the Hellenistic kingdoms. At the outset, the Romans are little more than another small state in the barbarian west, and less of a consideration than the Scythians or Jews. Much of the narrative therefore focuses on the ‘game of thrones’ between the Hellenistic powers, a tale of assassinations, double crosses, dynastic incest and warfare. As the Roman threat grows, however, it belatedly becomes the primary concern of the kingdoms as the legions destroy them one by one.
When Alexander the Great died in 323 BC, he left an empire that stretched from the shores of the Adriatic to the mountains of Afghanistan. This empire did not survive Alexander’s death, and rapidly broke into several successor states. These states, substantial kingdoms in their own right, dominated Asia Minor, Greece, the Levant and Egypt for the next three hundred years.
While Philip Matyszak’s narrative covers their remarkable contribution of the Eastern Greeks in fields such as philosophy, science and culture, the main focus is on the rivalry, politics and wars, both civil and foreign, which the Hellenistic rulers constantly fought among themselves. As in other fields, the Successor Kingdoms were innovators in the military and diplomatic field. Indeed, their wars and diplomatic skirmishes closely presage those of eighteenth-century Europe and the superpower rivalries of the twentieth century. The complex interaction of these different kingdoms, each with its own character and evolving military systems, combined geopolitics and grand strategy with diplomatic duplicity, and relentless warfare. The epic story of the successor states is full of flawed heroes, palace intrigue, murder, treachery, incest, rebellion and conquest.
From the earliest times of prehistoric Greek colonies around the Black Sea, through settlements in Spain and Italy, to the conquests of Alexander and the glories of the Hellenistic era, Philip Matyszak illuminates the Greek soldiers, statesmen, scientists and philosophers who, though they seldom – if ever – set foot on the Greek mainland, nevertheless laid the foundations of what we call 'Greek culture' today. Instead of following the well-worn path of describing Athenian democracy and Spartan militarism, this book offers a fresh look at what it meant to be Greek by telling the story of the Greeks abroad, from India to Spain.
An insider's guide: how to join the Roman legions, wield a gladius, storm cities, and conquer the world
Your emperor needs you for the Roman army! The year is AD 100 and Rome stands supreme and unconquerable from the desert sands of Mesopotamia to the misty highlands of Caledonia. Yet the might of Rome rests completely on the armored shoulders of the legionaries who hold back the barbarian hordes and push forward the frontiers of empire.
This carefully researched yet entertainingly nonacademic book tells you how to join the Roman legions, the best places to serve, and how to keep your armor from getting rusty. Learn to march under the eagles of Rome, from training, campaigns, and battle to the glory of a Roman Triumph and retirement with a pension plan. Every aspect of army life is discussed, from drill to diet, with handy tips on topics such as how to select the best boots or how to avoid being skewered by enemy spears. Combining the latest archaeological discoveries with the written records of those who actually saw the Roman legions in action, this book provides a vivid picture of what it meant to be a Roman legionary.