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Dando-Collins, \'Legions of Rome\'
#1
Saw a book by Stephen Dando-Collins, Legions of Rome. It claims to be "the definitive history of every Imperial Roman legion". Potentially interesting - however, I understand from the thread on his book on the Great Fire that the forum members here take a dim view of his reliability! Just rapidly flicking through in the bookshop, something which immediately struck me as 'off' was assigning a shield emblem to every legion; my understanding was that - with one or two arguable exceptions - what these emblems were (or even if each legion did have its own design) is unknown.

Anyone know the book? If so, are my suspicions correct?
Carus Andiae - David Woodall

"The greatest military machine in the history of the universe..."
"What is - the Daleks?"
"No... the Romans!" - Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens
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#2
well, you're impression is perfectly right. This author and book has been discussed several times on this board as well, and I wouldn't spend anything on his work.
________________________________________
Jvrjenivs Peregrinvs Magnvs / FEBRVARIVS
A.K.A. Jurjen Draaisma
CORBVLO and Fectio
ALA I BATAVORUM
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#3
Yes, he should stick to novels...he can tell a good story.
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
[b]Legio XIIII GMV. (Q. Magivs)RMRS Remember Atuatuca! Vengence will be ours!
Titus Flavius Germanus
Batavian Coh I
Byron Angel
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#4
I posted a review of the book on Amazon, mainly as a (somewhat outnumbered) dissenting voice to the storm of rave reviews that it received.

I must admit a gave it a go against my better judgement - I had previously read his books on individual legions and they were somewhat error-prone to say the least. This one was entirely in line with my expectations.

I was later slightly relieved to be "joined" by a like-minded reviewer in the shape of Dr Michael Thomas, but look at all the other reviews! The man (i.e. Dando Collins, not Dr Thomas) is probably one of the best-selling authors on the Roman army and he still repeats his misinformation, the outstanding one for me being the bizarre claim that individual legions only recruited once every 25 years. Oh dearie me!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/...addOneStar
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#5
Thanks for the warning! Glad I checked here, first. I shall be sure to steer clear of his works in future.
Carus Andiae - David Woodall

"The greatest military machine in the history of the universe..."
"What is - the Daleks?"
"No... the Romans!" - Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens
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#6
I got it as a present, I wouldn't give it as a gift
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#7
Yeah I just got this as a christmas present. The relative who gave it to me noticed my face sort of sank when I saw the author and I had to explain why I wasn't thrilled. I mean, I was thrilled he was thinking of me and thought I'd enjoy it, and how was he to know? Dando-Collins gets high reviews from people who don't know better….Or who like their Roman Fluff history.

Anyway, I still thanked him for the book, I figure I could sift through the information and notate what's wrong and what's close enough, etc. I expect soon enough the book will be covered in post-it-notes.

I also received his earlier "Anthony's Heroes" as a birthday gift, from a friend who thought I'd enjoy it…I don't think I've even opened the book since I first got it, must be some 7 years now Tongue

I agree, the guy can "tell a story", just stop with the fantasy gap-filling, eh?
Andy Volpe
"Build a time machine, it would make this [hobby] a lot easier."
https://www.facebook.com/LegionIIICyr/
Legion III Cyrenaica ~ New England U.S.
Higgins Armory Museum 1931-2013 (worked there 2001-2013)
(Collection moved to Worcester Art Museum)
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#8
John Watson wrote:
Quote: I was later slightly relieved to be "joined" by a like-minded reviewer in the shape of Dr Michael Thomas, but look at all the other reviews!

Yep, that was me! When the book by SDC on the 10th legion was published, I wrote a four page A4 critique and sent it off to his publishers in New York, listing all the many errors that I had found. Needless to say, I never received an answer. All I can say is that the man has not improved with time. He still repeats the same errors over and over again. My own particular favourites are that (a) legio X Fretensis and legio X Gemina were the same thing (despite the fact that they served in different parts of the Empire simultaneously) and (b) that the three legions lost in AD 9 were numbered XXIII, XXIV and XXV, which would have had Marcus Coelius turning in his grave (if he was in it).

It was a regret on my part that Amazon does not permit reviews with fewer than one star. Like you, I cannot understand why there were so many reviews there with four and five stars. The general comment seemed to be that 'he reads very well', as if that mattered somehow! Dearie me, indeed!

Mike Thomas
visne scire quod credam? credo orbes volantes exstare.
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#9
Quote: (a) legio X Fretensis and legio X Gemina were the same thing (despite the fact that they served in different parts of the Empire simultaneously)

Wasn't his idea that X Fretensis was founded on the original Caesarian legion, rather than Gemina as usually assumed? Thus providing a good excuse to write about the Jewish war in his first book...

I've been highly critical of Dando-Collins in the past, although when I had a look through Legions of Rome I found what initially seemed quite an interesting and even (gasp!) persuasive theory that Legion X Gemina were not the Caesarian tenth, and that X Fretensis were not named after a sea battle off Sicily. See what you think:

Dando Collins on X Fretensis

I think the inscription in Rome to 'X Gemina Equestris' (upon which the connection largely rests) has been queried elsewhere. It actually reads: leg / legion(is) eius pe [leg(ione)] / X Gemina eque / centuriones e[t ] / clupeum aura[tum] / M(arti) U(ltori) v(otum) [s(olverunt)] (AE 1934, 152). Might this actually refer to 'centurions and equites' of X Gemina? Or is that ungrammatical?

Anyway, I quite liked this as an exercise in scepticism, even if D-C doesn't mention Suetonius's note about Augustus disbanding the tenth legion in disgrace, or the tombstones to discharged veterans of X Equestris at Patrae - important aspects of Mommsen and Keppie's theory. However, D-C then gets carried away and goes on to suggest that the Fretensis part comes from the Straits of Otranto, and a sea battle in 42BC - that there's really no more evidence for this than for Mommsen's Sicilian idea seems not to concern him.

He compounds the black mark with a highly disingenuous endnote in which he implies that Keppie, amongst others, disagreed with Mommsen's identification of the 10th (which he did not), solely because he'd disagreed with another point Mommsen made about Augustan legion origins... This is just bad journalism.
Nathan Ross
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#10
How about "The complete RomanLegion" by J. Berry?
Eric C.
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#11
Quote:
Caratacus post=349120 Wrote:(a) legio X Fretensis and legio X Gemina were the same thing (despite the fact that they served in different parts of the Empire simultaneously)

Wasn't his idea that X Fretensis was founded on the original Caesarian legion, rather than Gemina as usually assumed? Thus providing a good excuse to write about the Jewish war in his first book...

I've been highly critical of Dando-Collins in the past, although when I had a look through Legions of Rome I found what initially seemed quite an interesting and even (gasp!) persuasive theory that Legion X Gemina were not the Caesarian tenth, and that X Fretensis were not named after a sea battle off Sicily. .

Being written by SDC, it's all very confusing! He does admit that there were at least two '10th' legions. The actual quote is (p.285): "Although the 10th Gemina, a different legion, is mentioned, no title is ascribed to the 10th. (end quote) But which '10th' is he talking about here? I presume it's the 10th Fretensis. :dizzy: He then goes on to make some comments about the 10th legion (no name added now) having been raised and served in Spain until its recruiting ground and station was transferred to northern Turkey in the 2nd c A.D., i.e. Pannonia - presumably this is the 10th Gemina? We are then told that "the 10th legion is believed to have served in the Middle East throughout the imperial era". Which 10th is it now he's talking about, Fretensis? It's the continuous and undifferentiated use of the number 10 that suggests to me that SDC thinks they are the same unit.

The bit that caught my ire, however was the following quote (p.280): For all this, the 10th legion may have been known colloquially as the Fretensis. There is simply no evidence to support a suggestion that this was an official title" (end quote). Enter a small volume by one Edward Dabrowa and entitled: "Legio X Fretensis, A prosopographical Study, (I-III c. A.D.), Historia Einzelschriften, H.66 (1993). This small volume lists all tombstones (dozens of them), of officers of the legion and all of which refer to this legion by name. So, unofficial title, eh? I think not. It's typical of SDC's racy style of writing, coupled with poor research.

Mike Thomas
visne scire quod credam? credo orbes volantes exstare.
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#12
Quote: So, unofficial title, eh? I think not.

Yes, Clauss-Slaby lists 135 inscriptions with X FRET, so hardly 'colloquial'! :grin:

I'd still be interested to know whether that Rome inscription means what various people think it means... or not.
Nathan Ross
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#13
Quote:I think the inscription in Rome to 'X Gemina Equestris' (upon which the connection largely rests) has been queried elsewhere. It actually reads: leg / legion(is) eius pe [leg(ione)] / X Gemina eque / centuriones e[t ] / clupeum aura[tum] / M(arti) U(ltori) v(otum) [s(olverunt)] (AE 1934, 152). Might this actually refer to 'centurions and equites' of X Gemina? Or is that ungrammatical?
Hello, Nathan. If you are suggesting what I think you are suggesting, you must be envisaging quite a small lacuna between the end of each line and the beginning of the next, whereas there is probably quite a large part missing. This representation of the inscription will help to explain:
[attachment=8655]AE1934_152.jpg[/attachment]


Attached Files Thumbnail(s)
   
posted by Duncan B Campbell
https://ninth-legion.blogspot.com/
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#14
Thanks Duncan. I wasn't really suggesting anything really, just wondering whether the identification of the 'eque' bit as part of the legion name is secure, or whether it could mean anything else. Could it?

D-C claims the inscription is dated to 2bc, but I don't see it listed as such anywhere else - what's he drawing on for this? Anything?
Nathan Ross
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#15
Quote:just wondering whether the identification of the 'eque' bit as part of the legion name is secure, or whether it could mean anything else. Could it?
It's in the right place for the legionary title, whereas I'd've thought that any reference to the legionary horsemen would take the form equites (rather than eque-).


Quote:D-C claims the inscription is dated to 2bc, but I don't see it listed as such anywhere else - what's he drawing on for this? Anything?
From its find-spot, the fragment is thought to derive from the Arch of Drusus (minor) at the Temple of Mars Ultor. The Temple was dedicated in 2 BC, but the Arches of Drusus and Germanicus were erected on either side of it in AD 19 (according to Tacitus, Annals 2.64).
posted by Duncan B Campbell
https://ninth-legion.blogspot.com/
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