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Taken at the Flood: The Roman Conquest of Greece

Taken at the Flood: The Roman Conquest of Greece

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by Robin Waterfield

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"Is there anyone on earth who is so narrow-minded or uninquisitive that he could fail to want to know how and thanks to what kind of political system almost the entire known world was conquered and brought under a single empire in less than fifty-three years?" --Polybius, Histories

The 53-year period Polybius had in mind stretched from the start of the


"Is there anyone on earth who is so narrow-minded or uninquisitive that he could fail to want to know how and thanks to what kind of political system almost the entire known world was conquered and brought under a single empire in less than fifty-three years?" --Polybius, Histories

The 53-year period Polybius had in mind stretched from the start of the Second Punic War in 219 BCE until 167, when Rome overthrew the Macedonian monarchy and divided the country into four independent republics. This was the crucial half-century of Rome's spectacular rise to imperial status, but Roman interest in its eastern neighbors began a little earlier, with the First Illyrian War of 229, and climaxed later with the infamous destruction of Corinth in 146.

Taken at the Flood chronicles this momentous move by Rome into the Greek east. Until now, this period of history has been overshadowed by the threat of Carthage in the west, but events in the east were no less important in themselves, and Robin Waterfield's account reveals the peculiar nature of Rome's eastern policy. For over seventy years, the Romans avoided annexation so that they could commit their military and financial resources to the fight against Carthage and elsewhere. Though ultimately a failure, this policy of indirect rule, punctuated by periodic brutal military interventions and intense diplomacy, worked well for several decades, until the Senate finally settled on more direct forms of control.

Waterfield's fast-paced narrative focuses mainly on military and diplomatic maneuvers, but throughout he interweaves other topics and themes, such as the influence of Greek culture on Rome, the Roman aristocratic ethos, and the clash between the two best fighting machines the ancient world ever produced: the Macedonian phalanx and Roman legion. The result is an absorbing account of a critical chapter in Rome's mastery of the Mediterranean.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In general, there are several go-to topics in Roman history that invariably prove the most popular, regardless of audience or historical moment: Rome’s efficient politics, charismatic leaders, inexorable decline, and a smattering of made-for-TV battles are too good to resist. The relatively slow, borderline obscure, subjugation of the Macedonian Empire decades before the birth of Julius Caesar, however, hardly stirs the popular imagination. Yet, as independent scholar and translator Waterfield (Dividing the Spoils) cogently and convincingly argues, perhaps no other action was more important in allowing Rome to become Rome (it’s the famous defeat of Hannibal that usually gets the nod). But when Macedon finally fell, the bustling Mediterranean world was Rome’s for the taking. Waterfield makes Roman imperialism central to his narrative, demonstrating again and again how exceptionally aggressive Rome was for its age, the subtle execution its policies notwithstanding. On top of producing a traditional academic history, Waterfield has composed a stimulating and provocative meditation on imperialism itself, both in antiquity and in our own society. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

"Waterfield has made himself into a living international treasure by his lean and lucid accounts of some of the most involved periods of ancient history (here, Rome's wars in Greece and Macedonia; in Dividing the Spoils, the wars of Alexander the Great's successors). The current story Waterfield tells clearly and enjoyably, with a deft selection of detail." --J.E. Lendon, The Weekly Standard

"The story Waterfield tells is complex, but he tells it well." --Peter Jones, BBC History

"This sorry story is told with great verve and pace by Waterfield." --Literary Review

"Taken at the Flood is a thrilling account of the bloody process that created Greco-Roman civilization. It is also a masterpiece of ancient history. Much has been written about the march of Roman arms, but for some reason scholars have never gotten around to producing a comprehensive volume of Rome's most crucial conquest--Greece. This has filled that void, in what will long remain the definitive account of Rome's subjugation of the once powerful Greek states." --Jim Lacey, author of The First Clash: The Miraculous Greek Victory at Marathon and Its Impact on Western Civilization and Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World

"Taken at the Flood is as elegant and powerful an introduction to the Roman conquest of Greece as you are likely to find. Waterfield tells the story in all its blood and cunning." --Barry Strauss, author of Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar and the Genius of Leadership

"Taken at the Flood offers a vivid and exciting retelling of a key chapter in the story of Rome's rise to power, the conquest of the Greeks." --Greg Woolf, Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews and author of Rome: An Empire's Story

"An epic tale, engagingly told in clear, eloquent prose. ... The book is a valuable contribution to the study of the formative years of Roman involvement in the East." -Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Product Details

Oxford University Press
Publication date:
Ancient Warfare and Civilization Series
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Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Robin Waterfield is an independent scholar, living in southern Greece. In addition to more than 25 translations of works of Greek literature, he is the author of numerous books, most recently Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great's Empire.

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Taken at the Flood: The Roman Conquest of Greece 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Dennis3150 More than 1 year ago
If you want the information without the authors biased and extremely subjective opinions and twists, than read Polybius and Livy. He clearly is just summarizing their books and did no further research. If you do buy this garbage, you will be fed a steady stream of moral relativism that always finds a way to paint Rome as the bad guy no matter what they do. Example, after the first and second Illyrian wars, and after the Macedonian wars, Rome either did or attempted to withdraw all its troops and leave the Greeks to themselves. Author continues to make the case that this is just new imperialism using soft power to get what Rome wants (even uses the US as an example to further add a demonization of both the US and Rome). Another great example is the statement by the author that every time Rome went to war in Illyria, it never left it the same when it left. That's the most astounding statement and critique to make. I guess the author assumed Rome should have went to war, won, and than just left changing absolutely none of the conditions that drove them to war??? He assigns the Roman Senate with some vast prescient knowledge of the future as the actions they took in treaties with Macedon, Greeks, and Illyrians were somehow to set the stage for the future that Rome somehow foresaw (example - end of the second Macedonian War, Rome insisted on leaving the Macedonian king in power against Greek wishes. Rome said it was to be a barrier against barbarians to the north -that by the way immediately went to war against Macedon- author claims it was to ensure continued reliance on Rome so they could come in later - in spite of Rome also agreeing to pull all its troops out). Again, just read Livy and Polybius, ALL his factual material comes from those two, he didn't do any additional research and just adds his rhetoric to their writings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago