Adrian Goldsworthy

Jan 25, 2024

Rome and Persia

The Seven Hundred Year Rivalry

Basic Books 2023

For almost seven centuries, two powers dominated the region we now call the Middle East: Rome and Persia. From the west: The Roman Republic, later the Roman Empire, later the Byzantine Empire. From the East: The Parthian Empire, later replaced by the Sasanian Empire.

The two ancient superpowers spent centuries fighting for influence, paying each other off, encouraging proxy fights in their neighbors, and seizing opportunities while the other was distracted with internal strife. The relationship culminates in an almost-three-decade long war that so exhausts the two powers that they both end up getting overrun by the Arabs years later.

Adrian Goldsworthy gives a detailed account of this long history in his recent book Rome and Persia: The Seven Hundred Year Rivalry (Basic Books: 2023), starting from the (alleged) first contact in 92 BC through to the collapse of Persia in the seventh century. The two of us are going to try our best to talk about this long history in our interview today.

Adrian Goldsworthy is an award-winning historian of the classical world. He is the author of numerous books about ancient Rome, including Hadrian’s Wall (Basic Books: 2018), Caesar: Life of a Colossus (Yale University Press: 2008), How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower (Yale University Press: 2010), Pax Romana: War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World (Yale University Press: 2016), and Augustus: First Emperor of Rome (Yale University Press: 2014).

You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Rome and Persia. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.

Nicholas Gordon is an editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.

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Nicholas Gordon

Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.

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