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About the Author

Adrienne Mayor is a research scholar in classics and history of science at Stanford University, and the author of The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy (Princeton), which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Includes the name: Adrienne Mayor

Works by Adrienne Mayor

Associated Works

MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History — Summer 1991 (1991) — Co-Author "Amazons" — 16 copies
MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History — Autumn 1997 (1997) — Author "Dirty Tricks in Ancient Warfare" — 11 copies
MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History — Winter 1999 (1998) — Author "Giants in Ancient Warfare" — 10 copies
The Oxford Handbook of Heracles (2021) — Contributor — 7 copies


Common Knowledge



This is a 3.5 for me. A fascinating and engaging account of one of the most colourful non-Roman personalities of the last century BC, which is extensively researched and draws together a massive range of different sources and subject areas. Ultimately though, I feel like Mayor did not manage to prove her thesis that Mithradates was Rome's deadliest enemy, and there was a lot of hero build up and mythologisation which eventually only demonstrated that his greatness was more illusory than concrete. The fascinating nature of Mithradates' life and times though is indubitable, and Mayor's multifaceted approach to his character was certainly engaging, even if somewhat historically fantastical.… (more)
XavierDragnesi | 13 other reviews | Mar 31, 2024 |
This book is not a novel but an odd combination of unrelated curiosities ranging from ancient times up until the present that reads more like a dictionary.

I expected more emphasis on deep research and analysis of curiosities from ancient times. While there were a few such as an attempt to explain Herodotus's flying snakes, other chapters discussed why wine goblets resemble female breasts and inexplicably, an entire chapter devoted to the author's pet weasel.

The book had its moments yet overall was quite disappointing and not worth the effort.… (more)
la2bkk | 1 other review | Aug 10, 2023 |
The slightly chintzy title belies a noteworthy and rare biography of Mithradates, one of the principal enemies of Rome during the late Republic. A somewhat academic feeling book at first, it nonetheless recounts the remarkable story of the man who won a series of spectacular battles against Rome (and many crushing defeats). The book is interesting both for depicting the remarkable life of Mithradates (who tried to make himself immune to various poisons by consuming small doses of them) and as a another window into the disfunction of the late Roman Republic and the cultural divide between what would (much later) become the East and West Empires. As the author is quick to point out, the actual source material for the book is spotty, leaving much of the story up to inference and interpretation. While the author at times may take some apocryphal history a tad too literally, all in all, it was a good read for a fan of Roman history.… (more)
TapsCoogan | 13 other reviews | Jul 4, 2023 |



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