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, 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 ruth...more
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 ...more
Mithridates, he died old."
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, his life was mythic. He was a brilliant linguist, mili ...more
And it is a fascinating story without ne ...more
"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 ...more
The book just keeps rehashing the same crap over and over, Mithridates was the scourge of Rome, the new Hannibal, a proud ...more
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 ...more
Adrienne Mayor provides an antidote (pun intended) to the genuine, and highly touted, accomplishments ...more
This poem by Housman sums up the man quiet well.
There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all the springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, s ...more
Regardless, there's plenty of interesting facts around the poisons, including details that Mithradates himself used to take poisons as medicin ...more