Harry Sidebottom was brought up in racing stables in Newmarket where his father was a trainer. He had a basket saddle on a donkey before he could walk.
He was educated at various schools and universities, including Oxford, where he took his Doctorate in Ancient History at Corpus Christi College. In similar fashion he has taught at various universities including Oxford, where he is now Fellow and Director of Studies in Ancient History at St Benets Hall, and Lecturer in Ancient History at Lincoln College.
His main scholarly research interests are Greek culture under the Roman empire (thinking about the compromises and contradictions involved when an old and sophisticated culture is conquered and ruled by what it considers a younger and less civilised power) and warfare in classical antiquity (looking at how war was both done and thought about by Greeks and Romans). He has published numerous chapters in books, and articles and reviews in scholarly journals becoming an internationally recognised scholar in these fields.
His first book Ancient Warfare: A Very Short Introduction was published by OUP in 2004. It got excellent reviews. The Times Literary Supplement described it as “jam-packed with ideas and insight … a radical and fresh reading of Greek and Roman warfare that is both surprising and stimulating.” For The Guardian it was “a boot camp for the brain – a short, sharp shock to the presumptions.” The Contemporary Review dubbed it “a tour de force.” Robin Lane Fox described it in print as “outstandingly good.” It has been translated into Japanese (2006) and Chinese (2007). Translations into German and Greek are in progress.
Away from classical scholarship his other interests include fiction, travel, sport, booze, and women.
Since 2003 he has been a regular reviewer of fiction, especially historical novels, in the Times Literary Supplement. Here he has enthused about Robert Harris and Alan Massie, and probably made enemies for life of Erica Jong and Colleen McCullough.
Since 2006 he has been working on the Warrior of Rome series of novels featuring the Anglo-Saxon nobleman turned Roman army officer Ballista and his Familia which are set in the Roman Empire during the so-called `Great Crisis of the Third Century AD`.
He has travelled widely, especially around the Mediterranean. These trips have varied from the luxury of travelling as a guest speaker on a Cunard liner to a memorable solo journey into Albania not long after the fall of the dictator Enver Hoxha.
All his life he has gone racing, and played and watched rugby and cricket. He was a founder member of Woodstock Rugby Football Club. Recently he has discovered the pleasures of real tennis.
Q & A
Books – Fiction
Throne of the Caesars
2014 Iron & Rust (Harper Collins)
Warrior of Rome
2013 The Amber Road (Penguin)
2012 Wolves of the North (Penguin)
2011 The Caspian Gates (Penguin)
2010 Lion of the Sun (Penguin)
2009 King of Kings (Penguin)
2008 Fire in the East (Penguin)
Books – History
2014 The Encyclopedia of Ancient Battles, editor with Michael Whitby (Blackwell) (forthcoming)
2004 Ancient Warfare : A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press) (translations: Japanese, 2006; Chinese, 2007; German, 2008; Greek, 2008)
Articles and Chapters in Books
2014 `Siege Warfare`, in H. Sidebottom, and M. Whitby (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Ancient Battles (Blackwell).
2012 `Assim como os Pescadores fisgam o Atum: A Batala Naval na Antiguidade`, in P.P.A. Funari et al (eds.), Historia Militar do Mundo Antigo: Guerras e Identidades (Annablume), 39-76.
2009 ‘Philostratus and the Roles of the Sophist and Philosopher in the Second Sophistic` in E. Bowie and J. Elsner (eds.), Philostratus (CUP), 69-99.
2007 `War, Peace, and International Relations in the Late Republic and Principate`, in P. Sabin, H. van Wees, and M. Whitby (eds.), The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare. Volume II: Rome from the late Republic to the late Empire (CUP, 2007), 3-29.
2007 `Severan Historiography: Evidence, Patterns, and Arguments`, in S. Swain, S. Harrison, and J. Elsner (eds.), Severan Culture (CUP, 2007), 52-82.
2006 `Dio Chrysostom and the Development of On Kingship Literature`, in D. Spencer, and E. Theodorakopoulos (eds.), Advice and its Rhetoric in the Ancient World (???, 2006), 117-57.
2005 `Roman Imperialism: The changed outward trajectory of the Roman empire`, Historia 54 (2005), 315-30.
2002 `Pausanias: Past, Present, and Closure`, Classical Quarterly 52.2 (2002), 494-9.
1998 ‘Herodian’s Historical Methods and Understanding of History’, in W. Haase, and H. Temporini (eds.), Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt II.34,4 (Walter de Gruyter,1998), 2775-2836.
1997 ‘The Date of the Composition of Herodian’s History’, L’Antiquité Classique, 66 (1997), 271-276.
1996 ‘Dio of Prusa and the Flavian Dynasty’, Classical Quarterly 46.2 (1996), 447-56.
1993 ‘Philosophers’ Attitudes to Warfare under the Principate’ in J. Rich, and G. Shipley (eds.), War and Society in the Roman World, (Routledge), 241-69.
1992 ‘The Date of Dio of Prusa’s Rhodian and Alexandrian Orations’, Historia, 41 (1992), 407-19.
Reviews – History
2006 Review of P.A. Stadter, and L. van der Stockt (ed.s), Sage and Emperor: Plutarch, Greek Intellectuals, and Roman Power in the Time of Trajan (98-117ad) (Leuven University Press, 2001), in Phoenix LX.3-4 (2006), 375-8.
2006 Review of C. Ando, Imperial Ideology and Political Loyalty in the Roman Empire (University of California Press, 2000) in Classical Review 56.1 (2006), 173-5.
2005 Review of T. Whitmarsh, Greek Literature and the Roman Empire: The Politics of Imitation (Oxford University Press, 2001), in Classical Review 55.1 (2005), 83-6.
2004 Review of J.B. McCall, The Cavalry of the Roman Republic (Routledge, 2002), in Classical Review 54.2 (2004), 488-90.
2003 Review of C.M. Gilliver, The Roman Art of War (Tempus, 1999) in Classical Review 53.1 (2003), 171-2.
2003 Review of S. P. Mattern, Rome and the Enemy: Imperial Strategy in the Principate (University of California Press, 1999) in Classical Review 53.1(2003), 172-4.
2003 Review of N. Pollard, Soldiers, Cities, and Civilians in Roman Syria (University of Michigan Press, 2000) in Classical Review 53.2 (2003), 431-3.
2003 Review of P. Cartledge, The Spartans : An Epic History (Channel Four Books, 2002) in The Times Literary Supplement 5215 (14th March 2003), 35.
2003 Review of G. Daly, Cannae : The Experience of Battle in the Second Punic War (Routledge, 2002) in The Times Literary Supplement 5205 (3rd. Jan. 2003), 26.
2002 Review of S. Swain (ed.), Dio Chrysostom: Politics, Letters, and Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2000) and H.J. Klauck and B. Babler, Dion von Prusa, Olympische Rede (Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2000) in Classical Review 52.1 (2002), 44-6.
2001 Review of F.S. Russell, Information Gathering in Classical Greece (University of Michigan Press, 1999) in Classical Review 51.2 (2001),
2001 Review of A. Santosuosso, Soldiers, Citizens and the Symbols of War:
from Classical Greece to Republican Rome, 500-167 BC (Westview Press, 1997) in Classical Review 51.1 (2001), 188.
2001 Review of J. Mossman (ed.), Plutarch and his Intellectual World: Essays on Plutarch (1997)in Journal of Roman Studies 91 (2001), 254-5.
2000 Review of K. W. Arafat, Pausanias’ Greece (Cambridge University Press, 1996) in Journal of Roman Studies 90 (2000), 232-3.
2000 Review of T. Buckley, Aspects of Greek History 750-323 BC: A source-based approach (Routledge, 1996) in Classical Review 50.1 (2000), 340-1.
1999 Review of J.-J. Flinterman, Power, Paideia and Pythagoreanism (Gieben, 1995) in Classical Review 49.1 (1999), 34-5.
1999 Review of J. Vanderspoel, Themistius and the Imperial Court (University of Michigan Press, 1995) in Classical Review 49.1 (1999), 37-8.
1997 Review of S. Fein, Die Beziehungen der Kaiser Trajan und Hadrian zu den litterati (Teubner, 1994) in Classical Review 47.1 (1997), 209-10
1994 Review of D. A. Russell, Dio Chrysostom. Orations VII, XII and XXXVI (Cambridge University Press, 1992) in Journal of Roman Studies 84 (1994), 265-6.
1994 Review of A. Hyland, Equus: The Horse in the Roman World (Batsford, 1990), A. Hyland, Training the Roman Cavalry (Alan Sutton, 1993) and K. R. Dixon and P. Southern, The Roman Cavalry (Batsford, 1992) in Journal of Roman Studies 84 (1994), 238-9.
Reviews : Fiction
2007 J. Rathbone, The Mutiny (Little, Brown, 2007) in The Times Literary Supplement 5419 (9th Feb. 2007), 22.
2006 D. Sprott, Daughter of the Crocodile (faber and faber, 2006) in The Times Literary Supplement 5404 (27th Oct. 2006), 23.
2006 P. Vansittart, Secret Protocols (Peter Owen, 2006) in The Times Literary Supplement 5385 (16th June 2006), 23.
2005 L. Clarke, The Return from Troy (HarperCollins, 2005) in The Times Literary Supplement 5348 (30th. Sept. 2005), 23.
2004 D.A. Durham, Pride of Carthage (Doubleday, 2004) in The Times Literary Supplement 5307/8 (24th./31st. Dec. 2004), 27.
2004 E. Jong, Sappho`s Leap (Arcadia, 2004) in The Times Literary Supplement 5295 (24th. Sept. 2004), 20.
2004 L. Davis, Scandal Takes A Holiday (Century, 2004) in The Times Literary Supplement 5283 (2nd.July 2004), 21.
2004 M. Doody, Poison in Athens (Century, 2004) in The Times Literary Supplement 5277 (21st. May 2004), 21.
2004 M. Renault, The Persian Boy (Arrow Books, 2003[1st. ed., 1972]), and Funeral Games (Arrow Books, 2003[1st.ed., 1981] in The Times Literary Supplement 5266 (5th.March 2004), 24.
2003 A. Massie, Caligula (Sceptre, 2003) in The Times Literary Supplement 5252 (28th Nov. 2003), 23.
2003 R. Harris, Pompeii (Hutchinson, 2003) in The Times Literary Supplement 5240 (5th Sept. 2003), 8.
2003 C. McCullough, The October Horse (Century, 2002) in The Times Literary Supplement 5208 (24th Jan. 2003), 23.
1999 Contributions on ‘The Arts in the Ancient World’ to Chronology of World History (Helicon).
1994 Contributions (c. 13,000 words) on Roman History, and Greek and Latin Historiography to A Dictionary of Ancient History, edited by G. Speake (Blackwell – Penguin).