Book Review: Viriathus: and the Lusitanian Resistance to Rome 155-139 BC


by Luis Silva

Barnsley, S. York.: Pen & Sword / Havertown, Pa.: Casemate, 2013. Pp. 192. Maps, notes, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN: 1781591288

The Life of Rome's Most Respected Enemy
Viriathus ( fl. c . 180-138 BC) led resistance to Rome in what are now Portugal and western and southwestern Spain for nearly two decades.  He developed a unique brand of insurgency, and defeated no fewer than seven Roman generals in a series of campaigns that often penetrated deep into Roman controlled territory.   Viriathus was never defeated, and was killed by some disaffected subordinates suborned by a wily Roman; the latter was himself disgraced by Rome for so foully treating an enemy who possessed all the traditional “Roman” virtues. 

In this work independent historian Silva uses the life of Viriathus to give us a history of events in Iberia from the Carthaginian conquest in the mid-third century BC through the Roman campaigns that wrested portions of Iberia from Carthage during the Second Punic War, and then on to the final triumph of Rome a half century later.  Silva weaves into his account of the many campaigns and battles a great deal of information on the political, cultural, and military side of Lusitanian society, as well as on Roman military practice in the period, with profiles of the many commanders who tried, mostly without success to defeat Viriathus.  In this way, Silva helps throw fresh light not only on Rome’s most well-liked enemy, but also on one of the Republic’s toughest wars. 

Viriathus & the Lusitanian Resistance to Rome is an excellent work, reading this will prove rewarding for anyone interested in Roman history.  


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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