Paul Chrystal has written the first full length study of women and warfare in the Graeco Roman world. Although the conduct of war was generally monopolized by men, there were plenty of exceptions with women directly involved in its direction and even as combatants, Artemisia, Olympias, Cleopatra and Agrippina the Elder being famous examples. And both Greeks and Romans encountered women among their 'barbarian' enemies, such as Tomyris, Boudicca and Zenobia. More commonly, of course, women were directly affected by war as non-combatant victims, of rape and enslavement as spoils of war and this makes up an important strand of the author's discussion. The portrayal of female warriors and goddesses in classical mythology and literature, and the use of war to justify gender roles and hierarchies, are also considered. Overall it is a landmark survey of how war in the Classical world affected and was affected by women.Chrystal's book demonstrates clearly the true extent of that involvement in a work remarkable for both its comprehensive treatment and depth of scholarship.
The fact that the study extends to nineteen chapters, and the range of his bibliography in terms of both ancient testimonies and modern studies are immediate testimony to this.A work of considerable scholarship and insight, one that anyone with an interest in ancient warfare will not be able to ignore.Stanley Ireland, Department of Classics & Ancient History, University of Warwick
Paul Chrystal studied Latin and Greek at the University of Hull and then specialized in Latin love poetry for his MPhil at the University of Southampton. He is the author of many works including both local and Classical history, most recently Roman Military Disasters, published by Pen & Sword in 2015. He has contributed as a feature writer to the Daily Express and is frequently on BBC Radio York, BBC Radio Tees and BBC World Service. He lives in York.