1st Edition

Rome, Parthia, and the Politics of Peace The Origins of War in the Ancient Middle East

By Jason M. Schlude Copyright 2020
    240 Pages 31 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 31 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume offers an informed survey of the problematic relationship between the ancient empires of Rome and Parthia from c. 96/95 BCE to 224 CE. Schlude explores the rhythms of this relationship and invites its readers to reconsider the past and our relationship with it.

    Some have looked to this confrontation to help explain the roots of the long-lived conflict between the West and the Middle East. It is a reading symptomatic of most scholarship on the subject, which emphasizes fundamental incompatibility and bellicosity in Roman–Parthian relations. Rather than focusing on the relationship as a series of conflicts, Rome, Parthia, and the Politics of Peace responds to this common misconception by highlighting instead the more cooperative elements in the relationship and shows how a reconciliation of these two perspectives is possible. There was, in fact, a cyclical pattern in the Roman–Parthian interaction, where a reality of peace and collaboration became overshadowed by images of aggressive posturing projected by powerful Roman statesmen and emperors for a domestic population conditioned to expect conflict. The result was the eventual realization of these images by later Roman opportunists who, unsatisfied with imagined war, sought active conflict with Parthia.

    Rome, Parthia, and the Politics of Peace is a fascinating new study of these two superpowers that will be of interest not only to students of Rome and the Near East but also to anyone with an interest in diplomatic relations and conflict in the ancient world and today.

    List of Maps and Figures




    1. Rome and Parthia Meet: From Sulla to Lucullus

    2. Empires with a Boundary: Pompey and Phraates III


    3. An Opportunist Strikes: Crassus and the Battle of Carrhae


    4. Parthian-Roman Fallout: Orodes II and Mark Antony in the Near East


    5. A Diplomatic Restart: Augustus, Phraates IV, and Phraates V


    6. Instability at Home and Abroad: Diplomacy and War under the Julio-Claudians


    7. Legions on the Euphrates: The Parthian Policy of the Flavians


    8. The Model of Trajan: The Final Stage for Rome and Parthia






    Jason M. Schlude is Associate Professor of Classics and Chair of the Department of Languages and Cultures at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. A former Getty Scholar at the Getty Research Institute and Villa, he is a specialist on the Roman Near East; has published on Roman–Parthian relations in journals including LatomusAthenaeum, and Anabasis; and is co-editor of Arsacids, Romans, and Local Elites: Cross-Cultural Interactions of the Parthian Empire (2017). 

    "In Rome, Parthia and the Politics of Peace, Jason Schlude offers a timely reassessment of foreign relations between Rome and Parthia, as trenchant as it is comprehensive. Schlude’s study broadens our understanding of this topic far beyond the current framework of imperial antagonism and great power conflict. His conclusions will be of interest not only to scholars of antiquity, but to anyone seeking historical perspective on the question of peace – and its fragility – in the realm of interstate affairs." Jake Theodore Nabel, Pennsylvania State University, USA

    "[T]he first [work] to offer an analytical, even-handed examination of the relationship between the two ancient super powers... an excellent read for anyone interested in ancient history, and perhaps also for students of international relations." - StrategyPage

    "The book is clearly structured, vividly written, agreeable to read and shows profound expertise... a recommendable, profound introduction to the political history of Roman-Parthian relations under the Arsacids with a focus on the period from the first century B.C. to the first century A.D." - Journal of Roman Studies