A National Book Award finalist for this epic work, Adrienne Mayor delivers a gripping account of Mithradates, the ruthless visionary who began to challenge Rome’s power in 120 B.C. Machiavelli praised his military genius. Kings coveted his secret elixir against poison. Poets celebrated his victories, intrigues, and panache. But until now, no one has told the full story of his incredible life.
©2010 Adrienne Mayor (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
I appreciate the effort to flesh out the story of Mithradates, a fascinating character. The book falls short on several points. There are long stretches devoted to speculation about Mithradates childhood and lifestyle in court. These passages take up a lot of air time for something that is unverifiable. In the meantime his descriptions of the battles, in particular of the third Mithradatic War are incomplete and don't give a clear picture. It also seems as though he is using some inflated numbers.
I also found the reader monotone and hard to listen to at times.
Overall the book is ok, it has good moments, the author does a good job of describing the political climate. It could have done with less speculation and more description of actual verifiable events.
I got this anticipating a speculative biography on Mithradates, but what I got was two beginning chapters almost entirely about the authors opinion on Rome and the indication that the author groups nearly every differing opinion in one large bucket the author dubs “Western”. I hoped that the book would get better and it did for a while, but towards the end she began to divert the topic to those individuals associated with Mithradates rather than the man himself. I would welcome any additional facts that would help me understand the subject, but I did not feel that I was gaining this understanding- I felt more like the author was writing two books; one about the Mithradates and a separate opinion piece. I read the work through, so I did not feel right returning it.
I liked the reader, he has a good documentary voice
The book itself could have remained on topic and been much shorter
This book seems poorly suited to audio production. The sorts of repeating of information that works in type clutters the narrative here.
The reader loses the focus of intent, particularly when listing things.
In the end I wasn't interested by the text and reading. A topic of significant importance in the story of Rome became just a grocery list, for me. An academic book, yes, but that shouldn't mean an academic reading.
Learning about an outstanding historical figure about whom I knew little. It also made me more aware of how hated the Romans were in the first century B.C. It is eye-opening for those us (mostly French) who only knew Mithridate from Racine's play.
The simultaneous killing of all Romans everywhere in Asia Minor on that day in 88 B.C. (how the Romans must have been hated for such a scheme to succeed!) . The old king battling at the end with his young warrior queen at his side.
I very much enjoyed the author's informed speculations that stretch the contours of documented history without cutting loose into fiction and romance. The hypothetical version she proposes of Mithradates outwitting the Romans at the end and escaping with his queen to live out their lives free of the twin constraints of office and enslavement makes for a heart-warming epilogue: we can only hope it happened in this way!
Historical facts seemed well researched and accurate but I take exception with Mayor's "speculative" history. If you want to speculate about history, why not write historical fiction?
Don't think so.
Yes. Lots there I did not know but all I want from my histories are facts. No need to speculate. I can do that for myself, thank you.
Great combination of good storytelling and historical narrative. Another great audio book available on Audible for those of us who love Ancient Roman History
Mayor has done a great job of piecing together the fragments of ancient history to paint a grand and vivid picture of western asia in the time of roman imperial dominance. I was drawn into the fascinating blend of political, military, and personal stories surrounding the enigmatic Mithridates and his black sea empire, struggling to assert his dominance in his own lands and his independence from mighty rome. Enough detail for history buffs and enough theatrical presentation for anyone who just likes a good story, this is one of the better historical offerings here on Audible today.
This was a fascinating biography of one of the most remarkable characters in ancient history. I had learned about Mithradates from Colleen McCullough's Great Men of Rome series, and was thrilled that he finally got his own biography. While the book is scholarly non-fiction which is well sourced, the author is so skillful that it reads like a thrilling novel. I especially enjoyed his speculation at the end about whether or not Mithradates really died in a tower as recorded by history, or was it just a ruse to fool the Romans? There was also some fascinating speculation about the fate of his Amazon queen. And the narration is first rate!
Interesting subject matter on a historical figure that has been largely forgotten in modern history teaching. The narrator isn't great but the material is largely excellent.
I found the portrayal of Mithradates both interesting and entertaining. Though I must say the fictionalized "alternate ending" didn't sit too well with me, and some of the "virtual history" came out a bit forced. Overall, a great read.
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