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Emperor Septimius Severus (Hardback)

The Roman Hannibal

Ancient History > Rome & the Roman Provinces Military > Biographies Military > Pre-WWI

By Dr Ilkka Syvanne
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 336
Illustrations: 40 colour illustrations, 120 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399066655
Published: 24th April 2023


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One ancient source called Severus the most warlike of all men who had lived up to that moment in time. The rise of Septimius Severus to power started the dominance of the military in Roman affairs and it was because of this that Septimius’s advice for his sons was nothing less than: 'Be harmonious, enrich the soldiers, and scorn all other men!'

Ilkka Syvanne explains in detail how the African Septimius Severus achieved his position, how he won his wars and battles and how he used his newly gained power to secure his family’s position. He reveals how he reformed the state and its military, and how he used these remodelled forces in wars of conquest to prove his worth as emperor to both the soldiers and the populace. This biography offers the first complete overview of the policies, events and military campaigns of Severus' reign in the fullest detail allowed by the sources. It also explains how and why these contributed to the military crisis of the third century and discusses the legacy he left for his son, Caracalla, who followed him in both his good and bad traits.

Impressively, exhaustively, and expertly researched, organized and presented biography, Professor Ilkka Syvanne's "Emperor Septimius Severus: The Roman Hannibal" brings out of relative obscurity on of Rome's particularly interesting emperors in a particularly violent and politically unstable periods. If there is any message arising from ancient Rome and still relevant today it is that the game of thrones is a blood sport. A fascinating and informative read, "Emperor Septimius Severus: The Roman Hannibal" is enhanced with the inclusion of plates, maps, diagrams, a list of abbreviations, two appendices (Arrian and Roman Battle Tactics; Frontinus and Combat Tactics on Land), thirteen pages of notes, a four page Select Bibliography, and a twelve page index. While highly recommended as an addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Roman Biography/History collections, it should be noted that "Emperor Septimius Severus: The Roman Hannibal" is also available in a digital book format.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

"This enthralling biography of Lucius Septimius Severus, Roman Emperor from 193-211 AD, is lavishly illustrated with photos of coins commemorating rulers and events, busts of the main characters and pictures of Roman soldiers, their uniforms and weapons. Dr. Syvänne’s meticulous research makes extensive use of original sources..."

Norfolk Family History Society - 'The Ancestor' magazine

As featured in

The Bookseller, Jan 23

About Dr Ilkka Syvanne

DR ILKKA SYVÄNNE* gained his doctorate in history in 2004 from the University of Tampere in his native Finland. Since then he has written extensively about ancient and medieval warfare and his publications include: The Age of Hippotoxotai, Art of War in Roman Military Revival and Disaster 491-636 (Tampere UP 2004), the multi-volume Military History of Late Rome published by Pen & Sword and the critically acclaimed Caracalla: A Military Biography also published by Pen & Sword. He is the co-author with Professor Katarzyna Maksymiuk of The Military History of Third Century Iran (Siedlce UP, 2018) and The Military History of Fifth Century Iran (Siedlce UP, 2019). He was Vice Chairman of the Finnish Society for Byzantine Studies from 2007 until 2016. He was appointed as an Affiliated Professor of the University of Haifa in 2016. He lives in Kangasala, Finland.

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