Taken from Appian's Roman History, the five books collected here form the sole surviving continuous historical narrative of the era between 133-35 BC - a time of anarchy and instability for the Roman Empire. A masterly account of a turbulent epoch, they describe the Catiline conspiracy; the rise and fall of the First Triumvirate; the murder of Julius Caesar; the formation of the Second Triumvirate by Antonius, Octavian, and Lepidus; and brutal civil war. A compelling depiction of the decline of the Roman state into brutality and violence, The Civil Wars portrays political discontent, selfishness and the struggle for power - a struggle that was to culminate in a titanic battle for mastery over the Roman Empire, and the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra by Octavian in 31 BC
Appian was born into the privileged Greek upper class of Alexandria, probably about A.D. 95. He rose to high office in his native city, and appears to have practised law at Rome, where he made the aquaintance of Fronto and pleaded in cases before the emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. He composed his Roman History between c. A.D. 145 and 165, at the height of the period which Gibbon called 'the golden age of the Antonines.' John Carter retired from a Senior Lectureship at Royal Holloway college, University of London, in 1992. He collaborated with Ian Scott-Kilvert on Cassius Dio's The Roman History(1987) for Penguin Classics, and other published work includes a history of Augustus' rise to power, The Battle of Actium (1970), and editions of Suetonius' life of Augustus, Divis Augustus (1982), and of Julius Caesar's own account of his war with Pompey, Civil War (2 vols., 1991 and 1993).