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
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
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
The book just keeps rehashing the same crap over and over, Mithridates was the scourge of Rome, the new Hannibal, a proud ...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
Where in history was Mithridates? His most famous moment took place in 88 BCE. Working b ...more
If you know nothing abo ...more
The epilogue speculations on Mithradates cheating death and then his final wife Hypsicratea persisting in secret posing as a male historian strikes me as fanciful ...more
That is the final line of a poem written almost two thousand years after his death and a more fitting epitaph cannot be found for Mithradates. He fought Rome for over thirty years, and every time that he was beaten managed to surge back stronger than before. Rome took longer to defeat Mithradates than they did Hannibal. In the end, we aren't even certain that he didn't just fake his death and go off somewhere to die in peace of old age. Rome ...more
If Mayor is correct, however, Mithradates was a weak and inexperienced military leader. Though he cast himself in the role of the conqueror Alexander the Great, Mithradates ...more