Book Review: From Trophy Towns to City-States: Urban Civilization and Cultural Identities in Roman Pontus


by Jesper Majbom Madsen

Philadelphis: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020. Pp. vi, 248. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $75.00. ISBN: 0812252373

Romanizing the Pontic Kingdom

Prof. Madsen (University of Southern Denmark), use the case of Pontus, in northern Anatolia, to help explain the process by which the Romans integrated newly acquired territories into their empire.

Acquired for Rome in 66 B.C. following the defeat of Mithridates the Great, Pompey the Great annexed much of the kingdom to the province of Bithynia, reorganizing it into a number of city states, some of which were formed around existing foundations and some newly established. Under the relatively loose aegis of a Roman governor, these were ruled by pro-Roman members of the local elites, who were granted citizenship and who controlled the business of state, collected taxes (frequently at rates lower than those of the former kings), and generally maintained order.

These elites forged a unique cultural identity as Roman citizens of Graeco-Pontic background, furthering the integration of the province into the empire. In effect, the key to empire was to rule lightly and indirectly, in contrast to the generally accepted modern impression that Roman rule was almost totalitarian.

A volume in the Penn series “Empire and After”, From Trophy Towns to City-States is a very good read for those interested in Classical Antiquity or the business of empire.



Note: From Trophy Towns to City-States is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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