Book Review: Diplomats and Diplomacy in the Roman World


by Claude Eiles, editor

Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2009. Pp. xi, 234 . Maps, notes, biblio., index. $157.00. ISBN:9004170987

Although wars seem to dominate histories of Rome , peaceful contacts between the Romans and other people was by no means uncommon, which is the point of Diplomats and Diplomacy in the Roman World.  

Edited by Prof. Eiles, an innovative Latinist at McMaster University , the book includes an introduction and nine essays by a notable group of international scholars who explore the nature of diplomacy, diplomats, and diplomatic relations under the Roman Republic and Empire.  

Various essays explore such matters as the ancient concept of "just war," the role of family and hospitality in diplomacy, interstate relations, and even diplomacy as a part of the internal mechanisms of the Roman world, in which autonomous cities, subject allies, and even some religious groups, such as the Jewish community, might send embassies as part of the internal administrative apparatus of a complex imperial system. There is a particularly useful discussion of the differences between modern concepts of diplomacy and those found in the ancient world, as well as the differences between the Hellenistic and the Roman view of the subject, differences usually overlooked in modern treatments. 

A very useful book for anyone interested in strategy and policy in Hellenistic and Roman times, or in the nature of diplomacy.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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