Friday, 12 November 2010

The Eagle (of the Ninth) & Roman Military Studies

At long last, on YouTube, the trailer for the forthcoming film The Eagle, based on Rosemary Sutcliff's classic novel The Eagle of the Ninth. Now we just have to wait until February to see the film itself. Comments so far seem dominated by the (questionable) acting abilities of the star, Channing Tatum, who plays Marcus Aquila*. I'm more interested in how faithful the film is to the novel, although really bad acting by the star might just sink it.

*LatinGeek note: full marks to whoever is responsible for Aquila being pronounced correctly.

I've recently discovered History of the Ancient World, a splendid source of academic articles about the ancient world. There are frequent headsy-upsies on Twitter (@historyancient). The website appears to make freely available articles from a few years ago that were first published in learned journals not accessible to non-academics. Anyway, there's one from 2002 by Simon James about Roman military studies in Britain which I found riveting.

There's quite a lot at the beginning about the development of Roman military studies in Britain during the 20th century, including the rivalry between historians and archaeologists (fascinating in a not-very-edifying way), and how changing attitudes to the study of war and violence have influenced Roman military studies. But the most interesting part is later on, where we get to more recent developments and the question is asked: Was there such ever such an entity as The Roman Army? And the author makes a startling comparison between the Roman military and the Georgian Royal Navy (he could have been writing that just for me, as both fascinate me). Read on...

Writing the Legions: The Development and Future of Roman Military Studies in Britain by Simon James. Archaeological Journal, Vol. 159 (2002)


Jane Finnis said...

Thanks for this resource, Sarah. I don't make enough use of Twitter, I know...I'm off to read the article you mention and look at some of the others too. As Ruth D said on her blog (which led me here) it's good to see scholars confirming one's instinctive feeling that there couldn't have been a huge gulf between a static garrison in peace-time and the civilians all around them.

Ruth Downie said...

Thanks for that link, Sarah - it's a fascinating article. It not only raises some really sensible questions, but it's full of great snippets like, ' my view, early imperial military base design was more to do with the control and containment of the soldiers inside, than with protecting them from enemy attack.'
(Now doesn't that fire the imagination?)

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Hi Jane and Ruth

Thanks for commenting. I must confess I haven't read the article throroughly yet - too much other stuff going on at the mo and my blog sadly neglected.

Just looked you up, Jane - I must get your books from Amazon. Like Ruth's, they're right up my street!

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