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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

“The Roman Legions”, by H. M. D. Parker


296 pages, Barnes & Noble Books, ISBN-13: 978-0880298544

The Roman Legions by H. M. D. Parker was first published in 1928 (the edition reviewed here is a Barnes & Noble reprint from 1993 of the 1956 revised edition) but was considered then – and now – as a major contribution to our understanding of the internal organization of the legions, the areas from which they drew their recruits, and the conditions in which they served, as well as being the first on the subject in English. Although outdated by works published in the 80+ years since Parker’s first hit the shelves, this is still an interesting book, as it is still very readable for the most part. The period selected for study starts with the Marian army reforms and ends with the accession of Septimius Serverus, and an attempt has also been by Parker made to trace the movements of the legions in the first two centuries of the Principate, the circumstances in which new units were raised and the normal orders of battle and march, while in the Introduction the stages by which the army developed in the pre-Marian Republic have been sketched in an outline. There are also some really tedious parts about minutiae of when legions were formed (the author is refuting ideas from other authors), while the book alo contains numerous Latin and Greek quotes that are not translated which will be frustrating to those who don't know Greek or Latin (like me).

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