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Empire of the Black Sea

The Rise and Fall of the Mithridatic World

Duane W. Roller



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Oxford University Press
10 March 2021
What is commonly called the kingdom of Pontos flourished for over two hundred years in the coastal regions of the Black Sea. At its peak in the early first century BC, it included much of the southern, eastern, and northern littoral, becoming one of the most important Hellenistic dynasties not founded by a successor of Alexander the Great. It also posed one of the greatest challenges to Roman imperial expansion in the east. Not until 63 BC, after many violent clashes, was Rome able to subjugate the kingdom and its last charismatic ruler Mithridates VI.

This book provides the first general history, in English, of this important kingdom from its mythic origins in Greek literature (e.g., Jason and the Golden Fleece) to its entanglements with the late Roman Republic. Duane Roller presents its rulers and their complex relationships with the powers of the eastern Mediterranean and Near East, most notably Rome. In addition, he includes detailed discussions of Pontos' cultural achievements--a rich blend of Greek and Persian influences DL as well as its political and military successes, especially under Mithridates VI, who proved to be as formidable a foe to Rome as Hannibal. Previous histories of Pontos have focused almost exclusively on the career of its last ruler. Setting that famous reign in its wide historical context, Empire of the Black Sea is an engaging and definitive account of a powerful yet little-known ancient dynasty.
By:   Duane W. Roller
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 237mm,  Width: 167mm,  Spine: 24mm
Weight:   568g
ISBN:   9780190887841
ISBN 10:   0190887842
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   10 March 2021
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Duane W. Roller is Professor Emeritus of Classics at the Ohio State University, and the author of Cleopatra (OUP 2011), Cleopatra's Daughter (OUP 2018), and Eratosthenes' Geography (Princeton 2010), among others.

Reviews for Empire of the Black Sea: The Rise and Fall of the Mithridatic World

With a lucid and captivating style, Duane Roller narrates the long career of Mithridates the Great, one of Rome's most stubborn antagonists, and recounts the larger dynastic and historical context of his reign. -- Jeffrey Benecker, University of Wisconsin-Madison Duane Roller has deployed his enormous experience in ancient history and geography to illuminate the fascinating life and extraordinary ambitions of Mithridates the Great. This book reveals the causes, events, and significance of a king who built a Black Sea empire to rival late Republican Rome. His bloody adventures ended in torment and suicide, but his memory lived on among Romans and their heirs, in art, history, and tragic drama. Throughout, amongst so much that is extraordinary, Roller offers a Mithridates who remains convincingly human. -- David Braund, University of Exeter The kingdom of Pontos creatively integrated Persian and Greek political traditions and was Rome's last rival for domination of the eastern Mediterranean, but the last history of this remarkable state was published in 1879. Duane Roller's thoroughly researched and lucidly written book ably provides readers with a long-overdue, updated narrative. -- Stanley M. Burstein, California State University, Los Angeles Roller...has a knack for combing through hard-to-find subjects. He puts that method to use here in assembling an accessible narrative of the early kingdom and of its demise under Mithridates, whose life and death fully occupies half the book. --lHistory Today With his vivid personality and long reign, Mithridates is the stand-out character of 'Empire of the Black Sea,' a historical survey of the Pontic kingdom by the classicists Duane W. Roller --lWall Street Journal Roller resurrects much more than a single king in his pioneering history, the first ever English-language analysis of the entire Mithridates dynasty. --Nature

  • Winner of Finalist for a 2021 PROSE Award.

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