Priscus was a late Roman historian who had the ill luck to be born during a time when Roman political and military fortunes had reached a nadir. An eye-witness to many of the events he records, Priscus's history is a sequence of intrigues, assassinations, betrayals, military disasters, barbarian incursions, enslaved Romans and sacked cities. Perhaps because of its gloomy subject matter, the History of Priscus was not preserved in its entirety. What remains of the work consists of scattered fragments culled from a variety of later sources. Yet, from these fragments emerge the most detailed and insightful first-hand account of the decline of the Roman Empire, and nearly all of the information about Attila’s life and exploits that has come down to us from antiquity.
Translated by classics scholar Professor John Given of East Carolina University, this new translation of the Fragmentary History of Priscus arranges the fragments in chronological order, complete with intervening historical commentary to preserve the narrative flow. It represents the first translation of this important historical source that is easily approachable for both students and general readers.
The second edition of this popular reader has been revised and reorganized into fourteen chapters. Nearly twenty sources have been added, including material on children, games and entertainment, and runic inscriptions, as well as new readings on the martyrdom of Alfeah, the life of Saint Findan, and the martyrdom of Saint Edmund.
The reader can be paired for classroom use with its companion volume, The Vikings and Their Age, authored by Somerville and McDonald. Together, these books provide comprehensive coverage for a course on the Vikings. Additional resources, such as a detailed bibliography and instructions on reading skaldic poetry, can be found on the History Matters website (www.utphistorymatters.com).