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Best books for Rome's enemies?
Good evening,

First post here. And it's probably going to be one of those annoying posts.

I've relatively recently become interested in Ancient history, the horizon of my interests creeping slowly backwards from the Medieval and Renaissance periods.

I've read a few pretty good books on the formation of Rome, and the development and deployment of its armies against itself and its many enemies.

What I have not found a lot written about is the military organisations and armaments of Rome's enemies. It's all well and good to be well versed in Roman military history, but is it not also important to know exactly who these armies were meant to face off against? That is, of course, when they're not facing off against themselves.

To the point:

I'd be most grateful for any recommendations for books that discuss the armies of Rome's enemies, from any and all periods of Rome's history.

I'm sure more established members can give you excellent recs but one place to start might be the Osprey Book series "Rome's Enemies"...i find their books really informative and the art's very solid! good luck
There are a few Osprey books that aren't terrible, though too short to really do any one enemy justice. If you really want to learn about s specific enemy pick a conflict they were involved in against Rome and read a few decent books written about them. They usually will devote entire chapters about the enemy, their culture and history, their arms, and method of warfare.
Theres always Greece and Rome at war by Peter Connolly...

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
Tacitus's Germania might be worth looking at - it's available in chunks online (part of it here), but cheap paperback translations are easy to get hold of.

I can recommend Derek Williams's Romans and Barbarians - most studies of the 'northern barbarians' tend to focus on the later centuries of the 'migration era' (because there's more evidence available), but Williams sticks with the 1st-2nd century, using Roman sources quite well, I think.

If you can get hold of a copy from somewhere, Jorgensen (ed)'s The Spoils of Victory: the north in the shadow of the Roman Empire is a fantastic book, all about the weapon and ship deposits from Danish bogs, and what they can tell us about warrior society in the 3rd-4th century Baltic region. Plenty of Roman stuff in there too - it's wonderfully illustrated and very well presented.
Hi Dave,

I have extracted the page from my library catalogue which includes titles on ancient armies excluding Roman, so the Greeks are on there plus various "barbarian" and others.  Excuse the categorisations - just me trying to bring some sort of classification to the books I own (and they go up to circa 1000AD so some will be too late for your interest, I think).  The ones marked "1" are Osprey.  You should be able to find info on them on Amazon or Google Books if they look interesting - and no doubt members will have their own views on the quality of each item if you want to seek opinions.

Happy browsing!

Attached Files
.xlsx   ancient armies volumes - non-Roman.xlsx (Size: 15.95 KB / Downloads: 18)
Just a quick note. Read Osprey books with caution. They tend to simplify-- "dummy-down"-- history into a concise and glossy format... with lots of semi-accurate color illustrations. I have several of their books on the "enemies" of Rome, and none quite hit the nail on the head.
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Thanks Alan.

I've browsed through a few Ospreys from time to time and have come to the same conclusion.

I settled on establishing my Roman Army (plus enemies) library with these tomes:

Roman Warfare (Goldsworthy)
The Roman Army: A History 753 BC - AD 476 (Southern)
Greece and Rome at War (Connolly) and,
Warfare in the Classical World (Warry)

I already have and have been working through Delbruck's epic works too.

Let's see how well I can edgumukate myself with those sources. Should be enough to get me started. Though I do have some other titles from this thread on my 'to look out for' list.

Thanks folks,

Actually, Dave, I don't think anyone has mentioned the following so far - "Enemies of Rome" by Philip Matyszak.  It covers 17 enemy leaders from the 2nd Punic War to the 5th Century AD, involved in conflicts with Rome in all theatres, so maybe would be a good value title for you in covering a range of adversaries:

Another title along the same lines in terms of format and content as the Warry and Connelly titles you mention is Hackett's "Warfare in the Ancient World" from 1989 which has chapters by different experts for each period and each chapter has a very fine two page artwork by the late, great Peter Connolly:

Regards, John
That one by Matyszak looks alright. 

(naff question alert) What's the art like inside it? What interests me more than modern artists' impressions is photos of extant art...frescoes, sculpture, coins et al.


The Hackett one is very extensively illustrated with photos of artefacts and sculpture.  The Matyszak one has mainly ancient busts so not especially useful for the appearance of the soldiers.

If you are looking for a book with a lot of images of sculptural evidence and artefacts, "Arms & Armour of the Imperial Roman Soldier" is good - over 300 images (as well as 7 full colour plates).  That volume covers 112BC to 192AD and there are two more scheduled but they are taking a while to appear.  There is a preview on Amazon:

Your original question pertained to enemies of Rome.  For the Greeks, this is pretty good in terms of illustrations (artefacts, vase painting, sculpture):

And for the Celts, this ltlle book is very good value and full of relevant illustrations:

Regards, John

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