Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Could do better.

These  seem to ring true with my experience....I was so astounded by what I found on close examination of New Vanguard 225 that I had to check further. Other reviews of RD's Ospreys mention poor presentation and proof-reading also.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2010.09.49

Raffaele D'Amato, Graham Sumner, Arms and Armour of the Imperial Roman Soldier: From Marius to Commodus, 112 BC-AD 192.   London:  Frontline, 2009.  Pp. xiv, 290.  ISBN 9781848325128.  $60.00.  



Reviewed by Josh Levithan, Kenyon College (levithanj@kenyon.edu)
"Yet the effort is almost more antiquarian than scholarly. D’Amato (responsible for the main text and many photographs; the introduction and the new paintings and drawings are by Sumner) brings to bear his considerable expertise in the physical and representational evidence for Roman arms and armor, and he has most assuredly done his homework, travelling to many far-flung monuments and museums in order to photograph less-well-known artifacts. But the book is more successful as a compendium than as a balanced advancing-of-our-knowledge- work. The prolific illustration is both a major strength and a weakness of the book, but the text does not always do much to support the author’s assertion of a “radically different” interpretation of his subject, namely that the representational evidence on surviving monuments is realistic and accurate, and thus a better route to re-imagining the army than keeping largely to the archaeological remains."



"Despite occasional awkwardness in the prose, the descriptive passages are generally clear, but the short introductory passages to the new object categories can be somewhat obscure. There are some curious assertions of personal preference, such as referring to “the Consular age” rather than “the Republic,” but a more problematic choice is that several interpretive stances are boldly asserted, but not closely argued. One example of this is the discussion of representational accuracy on pages 66-7, where D’Amato argues that the presence of Apollodorus of Damascus on Trajan’s Dacian campaigns means that the scenes on Trajan’s column were taken from life, and thus depict Roman equipment in a realistic manner. Yet he acknowledges that the consistent portrayal of legionaries and auxiliaries in different armor types was probably a matter of artistic preference, obscuring a less uniform reality. The careful uncertainty of other scholars of the column seems to be the better position.
When it comes to details, D’Amato’s arguments are generally either convincing or beyond this reviewer’s ability to assess—but on the big questions he is generally not persuasive. That “the concept of parade armour or helmets [sic] did not exist in the ancient world” (xiv) is, at best, debatable; but the idea that the usual description of certain decorated and masked helmets as parade or sporting equipment that was not used in actual combat “should definitely be rejected” (187) is untenable. The weakness of D’Amato’s argument at this point is glaring. There is an unsupported simple assertion (“it is absolutely contrary to the ideology of the ancient warrior”), a bit of circumstantial evidence (some so-called “sports helmets” have been found in graves together with battle equipment), and an appeal to the psychological impact of impressive looking weapons. This impact was certainly important (and has been much discussed in the last two decades), but it is very strange indeed that the quotation offered as evidence of this effect (from Josephus, Bellum Judaicum, V, 350ff) describes soldiers taking their impressive armor and equipment out of cases during a days-long lull in the fighting, and putting it on for the express purpose of a parade."

Full review HERE 


Review of Andrea Salimbeti & Raffaele D’Amato, The Carthaginians 6th-2nd Century BC, Elite 201 (Oxford: Osprey, 2014). ISBN: 9781782007760.

by Bryan Waldron of sydney University at Academia Edu  HERE

"The authors are over reliant on Silius Italicus as a source."
"However, Silius was not a historian and he wrote three centuries after the events. One cannot put too much trust in Silius and the authors' frequent use of him casts doubt on many of the descriptions."
"The book contains several factual errors."
"The connections between the authors' assertions and the references they use are occasionally dubious."

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