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Women at War in the Classical World (Hardback)

Military/Maritime/Historical Rome Women of History

By Paul Chrystal
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 249
ISBN: 9781473856608
Published: 20th March 2017



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Paul Chrystal has written the first full length study of women and warfare in the Graeco Roman world. Although the conduct of war was generally monopolized by men, there were plenty of exceptions with women directly involved in its direction and even as combatants, Artemisia, Olympias, Cleopatra and Agrippina the Elder being famous examples. And both Greeks and Romans encountered women among their ‘barbarian’ enemies, such as Tomyris, Boudicca and Zenobia.

More commonly, of course, women were directly affected by war as non-combatant victims, of rape and enslavement as spoils of war and this makes up an important strand of the author’s discussion. The portrayal of female warriors and goddesses in classical mythology and literature, and the use of war to justify gender roles and hierarchies, are also considered. Overall it is a landmark survey of how war in the Classical world affected and was affected by women.

Author article as featured in, on the roles played by women in war across the ancient Greek and Roman worlds - some wielded weapons and led armies; others were a catalyst for conflict

Minerva, September/October 2016

As featured in

The York Press

As featured on...

Classics For All

Many readers may only see women at war as those who played a critical role in two World Wars. This view may be coloured by the Christian and Norman attitude to women as second class citizens but, even then, women were at least victims of war and a very small number were more actively involved as monarchs and,
occasionally, as fighters. In the ancient world, women were more closely involved, but not on the scale of those who served during
two world wars. – Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here.


Who is this book ideal for? Well, first of all, those interested in the history of women in antiquity and/or warfare. Secondly, I would argue this is also perfect for those who have a general interest in the ancient world; the book looks at the subject through the lenses of women in theatre, mythology and factual history; providing the reader with access to several aspects of female Roman history.

Read the full review here.

Know the Romans

Chrystal’s book demonstrates clearly the true extent of that involvement in a work remarkable for both its comprehensive treatment and depth of scholarship. The fact that the study extends to nineteen chapters, and the range of his bibliography in terms of both ancient testimonies and modern studies are immediate testimony to this.

A work of considerable scholarship and insight, one that anyone with an interest in ancient warfare will not be able to ignore.

Stanley Ireland, Department of Classics & Ancient History, University of Warwick
 Paul Chrystal

About Paul Chrystal

Paul Chrystal was educated at the Universities of Hull and Southampton where he took degrees in Classics. He has worked in medical publishing for thirty-five years, but now combines this with writing features for national newspapers, as well as advising visitor attractions such as the National Trust’s ‘Goddards’, the home of Noel Terry, and ‘York’s Sweet Success’. He appears regularly on BBC local radio and on the BBC World Service. He is the author of fifty or so books on a wide range of subjects, including histories of Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, York and other northern places, social histories of tea and of chocolate; a history of confectionery in Yorkshire and various aspects of classical literature and history. He is married with three grown up children, and lives in York.

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