The Rise of Parthia in the East: From the Seleucid Empire to the Arrival of Rome
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Paperback , Revised , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Rise of Parthia in the East , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about The Rise of Parthia in the East. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Jan 05, Charlene Mathe rated it really liked it. Cam Rea provides a readable narrative covering a little over two centuries of central Asian history from the death of Alexander the Great to the decline of the Seleucid Empire, and the first contact of emerging Rome with the Parthians.
The reader benefits from Cam Rea's extensive research and bibliography. What this book really needs is better maps and more maps. This first edition has two maps that can barely be read -- get out your magnifying glass! I would like to see a map introducing each chapter.
The book is not written for the specialist, but for the lay reader; and we cannot be expected to know the relative locations of the many nations and events discussed. Louis-Simon rated it liked it Sep 25, Siavash Sepehri rated it really liked it Jan 30, Brian rated it really liked it Oct 29, Patrick rated it liked it Oct 26, Elijah Wallace rated it it was amazing May 06, Sandra B Reinhold rated it really liked it Sep 15, Steven Nix rated it liked it Jul 25, Michael E Stauffer rated it really liked it Sep 17, KevinF rated it did not like it Jul 29, Bryon rated it really liked it Oct 13, Jim Sherblom rated it liked it Nov 30, Ryan Kendall marked it as to-read Feb 26, Rajiv Chawla marked it as to-read Mar 29, Wes marked it as to-read Apr 13, Sam Pierce marked it as to-read May 21, LPenting marked it as to-read Nov 24, Terry Kuny added it Jan 08, Lawrence marked it as to-read Jan 13, Joshua marked it as to-read Apr 15, Askia Mohammed marked it as to-read Aug 10, Zare marked it as to-read Aug 16, Steve marked it as to-read Nov 18, Arash Karimzadeh marked it as to-read Jun 04, Essentially, the author comes up with a collection of sweeping, controversial and unsubstantiated statements that happen to run contrary to archaeological findings, numismatic studies and non-Greek epigraphic and written sources published over the last two to three decades.
This is what explains the title chosen for this view. You will not find any such case in this book. In addition to this, there are a number of approximations that could be seen as mistakes. At the outset, a general comment needs to be made. One is that the author's desire to draw more attention on the Scythians and, in this book in particular, on the Parthians is a very worthwhile effort, although a difficult one as well. This is largely because the written sources that mention the Parthians are limited and, perhaps more importantly, they are mostly Greek or Roman.
They therefore need to be used with care because of their negative biases against what were seen as "the nomadic barbarians". These biases reflect a mix of ignorance, fear, prejudices and misunderstanding with regards to these nomadic groups. A related issue here is that the author could have made use of at least some of the increasingly vast hoard of materials that have emerged over the last three decades about the Seleucids, their Empire and their neighbours, to shed some light on the Parthians, even if indirectly.
He was at least partially aware of them given the references mentioned in the book and listed in his bibliography. He seems to have chosen not to do so.
Curiously, in some cases, he manages to mention them while drawing conclusions that are the opposite of those made in these references, with "From Samarkand to Sardis: My second comment is about the rest of this review. I do not intend to discuss or even list each and every statement or area that I had problems with. Apart from being rather unpleasant and quite boring for everyone including myself , this would be quite unnecessary. Instead, I will focus on a handful of examples to illustrate the types of problems I came across when working my way through this book.
One rather odd statement in many respects is the one made in the very first sentence of the first chapter and according to which "the decline of the Seleucid Empire started when Seleucos crowned himself King in BCE. Moreover, the justification for this is both speculative and based on a misunderstanding. Seleucos seems to have used a mix of military conquest and skilful diplomacy to expand and include the Upper Satrapies meaning the satrapies east of Babylonia into his Empire, as mentioned by Sherwin-White and Kuhrt, but these authors do not state that Seleucos used the same heavy-handed tactics as those of Antigonos a dozen years before, contrary to the author's claim.
Moreover, Seleucos was the only of Alexander's Successors to keep his "Persian" wife I seem to remember she was from Bactria and his son Antiochus I by her was crowned as King by his father and given specific responsibility for the Upper Satrapies which he reorganised and developed extensively, as findings in Bactria and Mesopotamian tablets attest.
We also know that Seleucos made a second expedition to the eastern part of his Empire as of BC. Another set of somewhat dated claims was that the Seleucid Empire was somehow weak, instable and prone to fragmentation as a minority of Greco-Macedonian conquerors sought to hold together a huge empire by dominating the native populations. From what evidence is available, the Seleucids applied similar methods as those used during the Persian Empire, with local positions, including those of governors of major cities, being held by natives, not by descendants of the conquerors, and natives, whether Mesopotamians, Medes, Persians or Bactrians holding positions in the administration and the army.
These were the same methods that the Parthians would inherit from them, and that the Sassanids would inherit in turn from the Parthians. The point here is that Seleucos' policies were based on those of Alexander and of the Persian Kings before him. To a large extent and in many areas of government, the Seleucid Empire used the same tried and tested methods to address the same issues that the Great Kings had to address before. It is because of this that the Seleucid Empire can be seen as the "heir" to the Persian Empire, and the Parthian Empire an heir to the Seleucid one, issues that the author does not really discuss at all.
This heritage, although not apparent in or even denied by Greco-Roman sources should not even come as a surprise. It is typically what a newly victorious conqueror tends to do when having to take over the government and administration of his "new" Empire. This is what the Persians did themselves when they constituted their own Empire under Cyrus the Great, with their institutions heavily influenced by those of the Medes, the Assyrians and the Babylonians. There are numerous other examples of this all across Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Then there is the rather odd and misconceived idea that the new kings "lacked the ability to secure the Empire effectively and lacked the will, if any, to culture the various people on Hellenism living on the Iranian plateau and beyond.
Besides, one cannot help wonder why the Seleucids or any other previous or future conqueror for that matter would feel the need to impose its culture on all of the subject populations. There is quite a lot of evidence that can be used to make the opposite point with regards to the kings' abilities. The second point is more complex: There is increasing evidence to show that they did not bother with general hellenisation with, for instance, Aramean and Akkadian being used alongside Greek in official documents. In fact, the only ones that needed to be rallied to the regime were the elites: They might even care very little as to how the distant and far away King might be and what the Seleucids wanted from them anything was limited to financial resources tribute or money and men for the army.
I had been rather the same under the Persian Empire and the Neo-Babylonian one before. I would remain essentially the same under the Parthians afterwards. The point here is that the debate about Hellenism and about the Seleucid Kingdom fragmenting is largely flawed by the misconceived idea that the Seleucids would necessarily have tried to impose full centralisation and full cultural integration when neither were really needed. In practice, there seems to have been little difference in recognising a vassal King in Cappadocia or Parthia as opposed to nominating a satrap in a far-off frontier province.
Although this Satrap technically reported to the King, he was, to all extent and purposes, a quasi-viceroy, as was the case in Bactria. In both types of cases, the vassal king or the "viceroy" was requested to contribute money to the royal finances and men for the army, regardless of whether these contributions were called "tribute" or taxes, on the one hand, or an allied corps or recruits for the King's army on the other hand. Again, these were tried and tested methods that the Seleucids "borrowed" from the Persians.
The Persians among others, because both the Babylonians and the Assyrians had used such methods before had applied these methods since the times of Cyrus and Darius. Why should the same feature indicate decline for the Seleucids ruling much the same lands and confronted with very similar problems?
And I could go on, and on, and on, picking on almost each and every unsubstantiated and sweeping statement made by the author. For those wanting to learn about the decline of the Seleucid Empire and the rise of the Parthians, I can recommend the following at least for starters: They also show that the Seleucids were still very much the dominant power in the East after the defeat of Antiochus III by the Romans and that the decline started in the s, with the Parthians taking advantage of these civil wars to encroach on the Empire's core territories the Iranian plateau - Media in particular - and Babylonia.
Two stars for a book that I cannot recommend The writer is clearly an armchair historian with a thorough understanding of his subject and the period in general. Unfortunately he comes up very short when it comes to the actual writing. He tries to be clever but unfortunately fails. He does not appear to have a clear idea of his intended audience.
SELEUCID EMPIRE – Encyclopaedia Iranica
He will speak in simplistic cliches of about the level of a WWII documentary on the History Channel one of those with hard rock playing in the background with a lot of action footage but few facts , which would be okay if that was the intent, but then he drops mentions of people and places that only someone with significant prior knowledge of the period would know, yet without explanation of who or what that is and why it is important to the topic being discussed.
Rea has much of what it takes to write a good history, but he has a ways to go yet. Not enough meat on the bone here and repeats some of what's told in his other book March of the Scythians. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. I read his other work "March of the Scythians. This is the first of two volumes on Parthia, which covers the conflict with the Seleucids, and a fantastic section wish it would have been longer or perhaps a volume of its own on battle tactics including "Swarming" which is a doctrine that even The Rand Corp writes about and has been put to use in modern armies.
Absolutely love this book! Cannot wait for the next installment which I am hoping will cover the Battle of Carrhae. Maybe the Sassanids next?
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Please, Cam, post a link to a Facebook page or something to promote your work and update your readers. This book came out in October and I just found out about it Jan One person found this helpful.
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