Book Review: Taken at the Flood: The Roman Conquest of Greece


by Robin Waterfield

New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. Pp. xxiv, 288. Illus., maps., appned., notes, biblio., index. $27.95. ISBN: 0199916896

Why Were Romans Such Successful Conquerors?

Independent Classicist Waterfield takes a fresh look at Polybius’s question about how the Romans could in 53 years bring “almost the entire world . . . under a single empire.”   The author of such works as Xenophon’s Retreat, The Greek Myths, and Why Socrates Died, he gives us a lively chronological account integrating military, diplomatic, and political events from roughly 220 BC through the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC that finally ended Greek independence. This account builds on Polybius’s answer to his own question, while adding greater depth by fitting these events into the broader framework of contemporary Roman interests (would “foreign policy” be too modern a term?).

As he does so, Warfield also brings into his narrative the effects of Rome’s internal politics, financial management, military organization and reorganization, cultural changes, and offer quick looks at many individuals who helped shape the rise of the Republic or who tried to oppose it.  He sees Roman interest in Greece and the wider Balkan region evolving from a desire to suppress piracy and support stability through several stages that culminated in what amounts to hegemony. 

In keeping with recent scholarly trends Waterfield reminds us that the machinations and ambitions of the many Greeks states and rulers played a role in influencing Roman policy, a matter in the past often glossed over to portray them as mere victims of Rome’s lust for conquest. 

A volume in the Oxford series “Ancient Warfare and Civilization,” Taken at the Flood will prove a good read for anyone interested in Roman history, and although written for the general reader, will prove useful even for the veteran student of the subject.


Note: Taken at the Flood is also available as an e-Book from several distributors


Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close