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Publius Quinctilius Varus (Hardback)

 The Man Who Lost Three Roman Legions in the Teutoburg Disaster

Ancient History > Rome & the Roman Provinces > Roman Army Military > Biographies

By Joanne Ball
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 16 Mono
ISBN: 9781399088329
Published: 30th August 2023

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Publius Quinctilius Varus is famous as the incompetent commander duped into an ambush that wiped out three legions in one of the most humiliating defeats in Roman history. Yet this is the first full length biography of the man. Dr Joanne Ball revisits the ancient sources alongside the most recent archaeological evidence from the Teutoburg battlefield in Germany, where she has been personally involved in excavations. The result is a fresh, detailed new analysis of this significant battle and a reappraisal of the Roman commander.

Examination of his earlier career reveals that Varus, who had married into the Imperial family, was an experienced and competent, if harsh and ruthless, governor and general. He had served in Africa and put down rebellions in Syria and Judaea before being posted to Germany. Dr Ball sets his German command in the context of wider events, explaining the weakness of the Roman position there and the necessary reliance on auxiliary forces. Although Varus was clearly fooled by Arminius, the former Roman auxiliary who masterminded the Teutoburg battle in AD 9, she questions the extent of Varus’ culpability and asks whether he was scapegoated by Roman historians to deflect blame away from the Emperor.

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About Joanne Ball

Dr Joanne Ball is a Roman archaeologist and battlefield archaeologist based at the University of Liverpool, with a PhD in Archaeology on the subject of Roman battlefield archaeology. She has published several articles on the history and archaeology of the Teutoburg, both academic and general, and is currently writing a monograph on the archaeology of Roman battle. She has excavated at the site of the Varus battlefield, and remains closely involved with the ongoing work at the site and surrounding landscape. She has spoken on the subject of Varus and the Teutoburg in numerous podcasts (including Ancient History Hit). She is a regular contributor to several magazines focused on ancient history and was co-editor of Ancient World Magazine.

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