The Sibylline Oracles (sacred prophecies) which provide narratives of Roman history are our best sources for popular understanding of contemporar y events, since they were written by those with no obvious connection with the government. The thirteenth is of particular interest because it remains the only first-hand narrative of the critical years of the mid-third century AD when the empire teetered on the brink of political collapse. This book contains a full
introduction describing the political history of the third century, the other historiography of the period, and the development of the tradition of Sibylline Oracles, their authorship and readership. There
follows a new edition of the text (the first since 1902) and a detailed commentary which discusses disputed points of chronology, and the impact on the authors (living in Roman Syria) of the Persian invasions, which culminated in the sack of Antioch in 252, and the capture of the emperor Valerian by the Persian King Sapor in 260.
`This substantial study introduces the Sibylline literature and the historical context, and it provides a detailed commentary on the thirteenth S.O. It offers a fascinating alternative approach to a tumultous period in which, after severe testing, both Christianity and the Empire itself were to assume new forms of far-reaching consequence. Warmly recommended for any University library.'
Religious Studies Review, Vol 19 No 4/October 1993
`massive, spendidly learned, but also rather engaging book ... a valuable survey and a useful tool for future research.'
Times Literary Supplement
'In all probability this will be the standard work on the Thirteenth Sibyl for the foreseeable future ... carefully edited and attractively produced book ... valuable book.'
Joseph Geiger, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Classical Review, Vol. XLII, 1992
'Potter's work ... goes a long way to do justice to the importance of the Thirteenth Sibylline Oracle. The translation, in prose, is faithful and readable and without any artificial embellishments to imitate the oracular style of the original. The commentary is both full and far-ranging. For the historian of the third century, especially of Romano-Persian relations, it contains a wealth of new insights and alert observations. In short, P.s' work is a major
and impressive contribution to our knowledge of the third century as well as of oracular literature. It represents also a remarkable achievement by a young scholar. The reviewer cannot help but be amazed
by the breadth of the author's scholarship and the high degree of his critical acumen and philological training.'
Samuel N.C. Lieu, University of Warwick, The Empire
'This is an admirable piece of scholarship ... a brilliant book from which I have learnt much.'
P.W. van der Horst, Universiteit Utrecht, NUMEN, Vol. 40 (1993)
'His treatment of scholarly debates is clear and concise, utilizing political, religious, and economic perspectives. This work is an excellent starting point for any research into the third century, and the first fifty-odd pages will serve as a valuable introduction to the problems of the period for a course at any level.'
Thomas Alwood, Columbia University, Classical World
'an impressive and mature piece of historical scholarship...His work will provide a secure basis for all future enquiries into the period about which the thirteenth Sibylline Oracle was written.'
T D Barnes, American Historical Review, April 1992
`He has demonstrated his skills as a professor by giving a proper background to a simple approach and understanding of his commentary ... one of the most extensive treatments of the Thirteenth Oracle and the Third century Roman history in the early 90s.'
G. Makumbi, Recensiones - Salesianum 59 (1997) 1