The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy

The Poison King The Life and Legend of Mithradates Rome s Deadliest Enemy Machiavelli praised his military genius European royalty sought out his secret elixir against poison His life inspired Mozart s first opera while for centuries poets and playwrights recited bloody r

  • Title: The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy
  • Author: Adrienne Mayor
  • ISBN: 9780691150260
  • Page: 463
  • Format: Paperback
  • Machiavelli praised his military genius European royalty sought out his secret elixir against poison His life inspired Mozart s first opera, while for centuries poets and playwrights recited bloody, romantic tales of his victories, defeats, intrigues, concubines, and mysterious death But until now no modern historian has recounted the full story of Mithradates, the ruthMachiavelli praised his military genius European royalty sought out his secret elixir against poison His life inspired Mozart s first opera, while for centuries poets and playwrights recited bloody, romantic tales of his victories, defeats, intrigues, concubines, and mysterious death But until now no modern historian has recounted the full story of Mithradates, the ruthless king and visionary rebel who challenged the power of Rome in the first century BC In this richly illustrated book the first biography of Mithradates in fifty years Adrienne Mayor combines a storyteller s gifts with the most recent archaeological and scientific discoveries to tell the tale of Mithradates as it has never been told before.The Poison King describes a life brimming with spectacle and excitement Claiming Alexander the Great and Darius of Persia as ancestors, Mithradates inherited a wealthy Black Sea kingdom at age fourteen after his mother poisoned his father He fled into exile and returned in triumph to become a ruler of superb intelligence and fierce ambition Hailed as a savior by his followers and feared as a second Hannibal by his enemies, he envisioned a grand Eastern empire to rival Rome After massacring eighty thousand Roman citizens in 88 BC, he seized Greece and modern day Turkey Fighting some of the most spectacular battles in ancient history, he dragged Rome into a long round of wars and threatened to invade Italy itself His uncanny ability to elude capture and surge back after devastating losses unnerved the Romans, while his mastery of poisons allowed him to foil assassination attempts and eliminate rivals.The Poison King is a gripping account of one of Rome s most relentless but least understood foes.

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    About "Adrienne Mayor"

    1. Adrienne Mayor

      Adrienne Mayor Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy book, this is one of the most wanted Adrienne Mayor author readers around the world.

    818 thoughts on “The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy”

    1. "I tell the tale that I heard told.Mithridates, he died old."- A. E Housman, Terence, 'This is Stupid Stuff'A fascinating piece of Persian/Roman/Asia Minor history. Mithradates makes almost every other challenger to the status quo seem inept, uncreative and not really committed. He isn't a king or leader you can completely admire. His methods for removing Romans from Asia Minor were not even remotely reasonable (Kill them all and let Zeus sort them out wasn't reasonable even in 88 BC). However, [...]


    2. Of all historic topics, ancient history holds my interest the least. The things I know about the ancient world could fit comfortably in the chest pocket of a pair of overalls. They also fit comfortably in my head, along with all the other neat stuff I got going on in there. Most of what I know about Rome I learned from the movies. Thanks to Stanley Kubrick, I know that Kirk Douglas led a slave revolt that nearly toppled Laurence Olivier. But he was crucified along with all his men, and only Jean [...]


    3. When Adrienne Mayor remains within the limits of her sources (both literary and archaeological), The Poison King is a solid, readable biography of a now little-known figure of the Ancient world. Unfortunately, she allows herself some wild flights of fancy better suited for a historical novel and neglects any serious analysis of the reign of Mithradates VI of Pontus, the last serious foe of Roman hegemony in what would become the eastern half of the empire.And it is a fascinating story without ne [...]


    4. There are very few books on Mithridates, and even fewer dedicated biograpies; in fact, The Poison King is the only one written in over a century, which was part of the reason I was so excited to read it. Unfortunately, the book failed to contribute too much more to the literature of the ancient Near-East; this might not have disappointed me too much, except for the length of the book, which was not brimming with unique historical insights but instead brimming with Adrienne Mayor's Mithradates fa [...]


    5. Very complete, detailed and readable biography of Mithradates, King of Pontus, during the time of the Roman Republic. The book covers from his boyhood until his death in his 70s, still a fighter till the last. Raised among court intrigue: Persian and Greek, he early on began a lifelong study of poisons and their antidotes, testing them on criminals and each day of his life ingesting a bit, to render himself immune to their effects. He supposedly came up with a theriac [also called Mithridatium], [...]


    6. What is this book? its not a history book, its not a fiction book its some sort of speculative mishmash of the both, i actually became quite irritated by the "lets imagine what could have happened" "this probably happened" "some think this was what happened" "Mithridates probably did this" my god it was like reading the ramblings of a 5 year old making it up as they go-along,The book just keeps rehashing the same crap over and over, Mithridates was the scourge of Rome, the new Hannibal, a proud [...]


    7. I got sucked right into this story from the start, and finally, I got to find out what happened between two of Colleen McCullough's novels. There's war, love, poisoning, treachery, murder on a mass scale, and all sorts of things that make history fun. While the writing style is a bit light in spots, I found this to be a great read, and worth it to find. Those who enjoy history won't need any further urging to read this one, and it's one that I can happily recommend at all. Four stars overall. Fo [...]


    8. Mithradates VI of Pontus did nothing by half measures. In the spring of 88 BC he organized the slaughter of essentially all the Roman and Italian residents of the Province of Asia which encompassed western Turkey. Men, women and children, masters and slaves were rounded up and killed without mercy. Those who attempted to gain sanctuary in the temples were murdered and the temples burned. Their property was confiscated; people who killed Roman moneylenders had their debts cancelled; bounties were [...]


    9. "Beavers abound in Armenia's lakes and streams - perhaps their testicles contributed to Mithradates' celebrated vigor."There is something about that quote that sums up the Poison King for me and emblematic of the my feelings towards the book. You might think that quote makes more sense in context, but it really doesn't. The context is that Mayor is trying to fill the gap in our sources and hypothesizing what Mithradetes' did for two years in Armenia while on the run from Rome. Her answer: milita [...]



    10. Literature on ancient Rome can overtly or subtly applaud the level of civilization it provided for its people. Little note is made that the beneficiaries were a small percentage of the population. The beneficiary proportion is smaller still when the people of conquered lands are counted. Rome's enemies skirmished and revolted, but Rome's strong aggressive armies fended them all off for centuries.Adrienne Mayor provides an antidote (pun intended) to the genuine, and highly touted, accomplishments [...]


    11. There have been several reviews lamenting the amount of conjecture regarding the historically undocumented parts of the life of Mithradates. I find that kind of funny since the thing I love most about ancient history are the spaces between what has been recorded, where you can use what you already know to imagine what might have happened. I guess I'm just more of a writer than a strict historian, but it always bugs me in these kinds of books when the author says "We won't speculate on this perio [...]


    12. This book is well out of my comfort zone of history. Only lately, thanks to History of Rome podcast, have I truly gotten into ancient history as a subject. And even this predates my own limited knowledge of Rome.As much as I have heard of the name Mithradates, I knew little about him. This book is a well researched guide into his life, his wars on Rome, and his eventual destruction from within. At times, the book delved almost too deeply into the various battles, but I think that's more a functi [...]


    13. Traditionally the West's dominant view of Mithradates came from his Roman enemies, and in recent times there has been virtually no view of the forgotten king. Adrienne Mayor does history a great service by countering that imbalanced knowledge. In The Poison King Mayor strips the skewed Roman accounts to present a story closer to the truth. Her story is supported with alternate contemporary sources and modern archaeology. As a result, the reader views Pontus' royal family and Rome's Mithridatic W [...]


    14. One of my college professors recommended this book to me after being able to only briefly cover Mithradates in class and, though it took me a while to become fully ensconced, I really enjoyed reading this book. Mixing mythology with reality and speculation with factuality, Adrienne Mayor amalgamates the many stories, myths, and facts about Rome's deadliest enemy into a thrilling story of divinity, power, war, perfidy, and eventual downfall. Many times, I lost myself in the story as if I was read [...]


    15. Not as good as I was expecting, and definitely not as good as the author's Greek Fire book. A biography about Mithridates is a great idea, and the author managed to make him sound very, very awesome and interesting, and the pictures throughout are really nice -- but a large portion of the book is things Mayor just made up about what might have happened because there just isn't enough in the primary sources about the guy. This gets especially ridiculous toward the end when she starts speculating [...]


    16. This is a decent little read (or listen). Well, not little; I've been at it for months off and on. The first chapter for me was hard to endure based on the laughable colloquial language, but I felt it settled down as the actual narrative started. The book does an excellent job of making you sympathetic to the subject character despite his being a genocidal despot who never won a significant battle against the Romans, and the historical speculations at the end are intriguing yet well-grounded and [...]


    17. This is a fine, well readable book on one of the most fascinating episodes in ancient history, the story of an indomitable king who challenged the Roman expansion in Asia Minor and in the Hellenistic kingdoms. He became famous in history for his research and experiments concerning poisons and antidotes. Racine wrote a tragedy about him, and Mozart an opera. Later he was quite forgotten but his story is one of those truly worth knowing, because it is adventure, mythology and history combined.The [...]


    18. A very good recreation of the famous king and his life-long struggle against Rome; indomitable in spirit but a mediocre general, Mithridates long reign was due as much to Rome's internal troubles as to his skill and the book only partially reflects that since in pretty much any direct encounter the roman legions trounced the mithridatic armies only for the king to wiggle free due to the internal struggles of the Republic; still a good account of the poison king, though the deadliest enemy is an [...]


    19. An entertaining book for the most part. I'm not a fan of military history, so I admit to skimming over those pages as I just couldn't stand the long descriptions. One thing that made me not give this a better rating was her constant over-dramatization and the interjecting her own opinions. "We can imagine," or "I think." Nope, if you are writing a history book, a biography, stick with the facts. You can interpret them in various ways if you like, but not using flights of fancy.


    20. The Poison King succeeded in garnering newfound respect out of me for the rebellious king of Pontus. Despite his ruthlessness, he is portrayed positively in the book. Though the author relied on her own theories in some portions where the actual history is lost to us, her assumptions are reasonable and likely courses of action for Mithradates. overall, it was an exceptional read.


    21. I know nothing about this Important historical character before reading this book. Very readable but a bit too much emphasis on the Poison King aspect. It happens that everyone is poisoning their enemies at this time . Mithradates is too important a leader to be forgotten in our time. Important lessons from a great king on challenging and succeeding for so long a time the ruling power of Rome.


    22. A very readable popular history of the great Mithridates. It's not the book an academic historian would have written--but maybe that's a good thing. (I can say this having been an academic historian.)


    23. Interesting book about one of Romes lesser known enemies. The author occasionally gets caught up in her subject, as historians are apt to do, and loses objectivity. But still a good read about a historical figure that is not nearly known as he was, and perhaps should be.


    24. A good overall book but the author got bogged down in the what if's and hypothesizing. She states very clearly when she is simply hypothesizing but I found she did it too much for my taste.


    25. Adrienne Mayor’s book on the life and legend of Mithradates is the best deep ancient history book I read this year. I was tuned into it after about 10 pages, and then glued to it until completion. I had heard, read the name plenty of times before, but I had no idea who Mithradates was, or what role he played in ancient history."He died old" and mysteriously. He led thousands into battle against 3 major Roman conquerers, Sulla, Lucullus, and Pompey the Great. He had more lives than a black cat, [...]


    26. For as long as I've studied Roman history, Mithradates has remained a dim figure, lurking on the periphery of the tumultuous events of the last century before the common era. In between fighting Marius (and his successors), Sulla dashed over to Greece to repulse this conqueror from the East. And he would manage to survive until Pompey marshaled his forced and marched into Asia Minor.That has all changed with this well-researched and thoughtfully constructed book. Here, we learn that Mithradates, [...]


    27. I really enjoyed The Poison King. If you are interested in Ancient Rome, try reading up on their opponents and other kingdoms in Eurasia. I was fascinated to learn about the blended Greek/Persian culture in Pontus and will probably go back for more. In terms of the writing, Adrienna Mayor says up front that the historical record is incomplete and thus requires a little supposition to fill in the gaps. With that being said, I think she did a good job of not over-speculating in time periods where [...]


    28. This would be a novel I would say the writer is crazy. The biographies of Mithradates is unimaginable, from crazy weather phenomenon, to battle that are lost and won on details or alliance/nation that flip in unpredictable way. This king that I barely hear of is one of a kind. An hero of an era, it is an incredibly inspiring tales. One of courage, wisdom, freedom, failures and indomitable faith.


    29. Fascinating non-fiction book that tied into my interest in classical greek and roman history, but covering an historical figure and part of the world that I knew nothing about. Excellent writing for a general audience. Highly recommend!


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