Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity: Neighbours and Rivals

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The foundation of the Sasanian Empire in AD 224 established a formidable new power on the Roman Empire's Eastern frontier, and relations over the next four centuries proved turbulent. This book provides a chronological narrative of their relationship, supported by a substantial collection of translated sources illustrating important themes and structural patterns. The political goals of the two sides, their military confrontations and their diplomatic solutions are discussed, as well as the common interests between the two powers. Special attention is given to the situation of Arabia and Armenia, to economic aspects, the protection of the frontiers, the religious life in both empires and the channels of communication between East and West. In its wide chronological scope, the study explores the role played by the Sasanians in the history of the ancient Near East. The book will prove invaluable for students and non-specialists interested in late antiquity and early Byzantium, and it will be equally useful for specialists on these subjects.

About the Author:
Beate Dignas is Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at Somerville College, Oxford

About the Author:
Engelbert Winter is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Munster

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'… this is an excellent textbook introduction to Roman-Persian relations of the Late Antique period for specialist and non-specialist readers alike. It will, undoubtedly, prove popular in introductory and survey courses. The book's main virtue is that it makes accessible a wide range of sources in translation and does so in a very readable and user-friendly manner with repeated cross-references between the two parts of the book.' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521614078
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 364
  • Sales rank: 843,409
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Beate Dignas is Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at Somerville College, Oxford.

Engelbert Winter is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Münster.

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Table of Contents

List of figures     viii
List of maps     ix
Preface     xi
Abbreviations     xiii
Introduction: West and East, friend and foe, counterpart and mirror image...     1
Rome and Iran to the beginning of the third century AD     9
Rome and the Sasanian Empire: A chronological survey     18
The third century: The origins of Sasanian interests in the West     18
The fourth century: The conflict escalates under Sapur II (309-379)     32
The fifth century: Detente at the Roman Eastern frontier     34
The sixth century: The Sasanians renew their expansionist policy in the West     37
The seventh century: Might and decline of Sasanian power     44
Sources and Contexts
Political goals     53
Territorial claims of the Sasanians against Rome     53
Succession to Achaemenid rule as programmatic foreign policy     56
Warfare     63
Sasanian armament and tactics     63
Military confrontations     70
The third century: Origins of Sasanian interests in the West     71
Earliest Roman-Sasanian confrontations (230-233)     71
Sapur I (240-272) at war with Rome     77
Galerius defeats Narse in the year 298     84
The fourth century: The conflict escalates under Sapur II (309-379)     88
Fighting during the reign of Constantius II (337-361)     88
Julian's Persian War (363)     90
The fifth century: Detente at the Roman Eastern frontier     94
Arcadius (383-408) and Yazdgard I (399-420)     94
Persian confrontations with the Hephthalites     97
The Sasanian monarchy loses and regains power     98
The sixth century: The Sasanians renew their expansionist policy in the West     100
The first Sasanian-Byzantine War (502-532)     100
The second Sasanian-Byzantine War (540-562)     106
The third Sasanian-Byzantine War (572-591) and the Persian expansion into South Arabia     109
The seventh century: Might and decline of Sasanian power     115
The advance of Xusro II Parvez (602-628)     115
The diplomatic solutions     119
The peace treaty of 244 between Philip the Arab and Sapur I     119
The peace treaty of 298 between Diocletian and Narse     122
The peace treaty of 363 between Jovian and Sapur II     131
The peace treaty of 422 between Theodosius II and Bahram V Gor     135
The peace treaty of 562 between Justinian and Xusro I Anosarvan     138
The peace treaty of 628 between Heraclius and Kavadh II Seroe     148
Arabia between the great powers     152
Hatra     152
Palmyra     155
The Arab prince Imru'ulqais between Romans and Sasanians     163
'Proxy policy': Lahmids and Gassanids     169
Shared interests: Continuing conflicts     173
Armenia     173
Protection of the frontier     188
Economy and trade     195
Religion: Christianity and Zoroastrianism     210
Religion and kingship in the Sasanian Empire     210
The Sasanian kings as patrons of Zoroastrianism     213
From Diocletian to Constantine: Religious change in the West and the consequences for Roman-Sasanian relations     216
The situation of the Persian Christians during the reign of Yazdgard I (399-420)     221
Religion and politics during the sixth and seventh centuries     225
Emperor and King of kings     232
Concepts of 'legitimate rule' and the 'family of kings'     232
Exchange of information between West and East     242
Diplomacy and espionage     245
Deportations: Enforced resettlements of prisoners     254
Mutual cultural interest     263
Lists of Sasanian kings and Roman emperors     266
Chronological table     268
Glossary     273
Bibliography     282
Index of sources     326
Index of translated sources     332
Index of names     335
Index of place names     339
General index     343
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