The Sources for Rome's wars with Shapur I: Eurocentric and Eastern perspectives

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Fergus Millar’s The Roman Near East: 31 BC–AD 337 published in 1993 is one of the leading contributions to the study of the Roman Near East. His analysis of Greek and Latin literary and narrative texts and especially inscriptions and papyri has been important in developing a better understanding of culture in the Roman Near East. It also illuminates the political history of Rome’s presence in the Near East during this period. The contributions of classicists to the study of the Roman Near East have come under increasing criticism in more recent times for being too 'Eurocentric'. In reaction to this, calls have been made by a number of scholars for a greater voice to be given to the 'Eastern' sources and also to the material evidence. There is perhaps some merit in these claims but there are difficulties with privileging Eastern sources and deficiencies in attempts to do so. The period of Shapur I’s wars with Rome is an appropriate and important period of the history of the Roman Near East by which to investigate the nature of the sources, the important contributions by classicists and the inherent problems in attempting to privilege an Eastern perspective. This paper considers the various categories of evidence available for this period and argues that classicists should continue to play a significant role in analysing the Roman Near East.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-179
Number of pages25
JournalAncient West and East
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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