East Rome and Sasanian Persia: Were they Natural Rivals?

A few years ago, I was a guest speaker on a podcast titled Antiquity in Question. We spoke on whether East Rome and the Sasanian Persians were natural rivals. This episode was based on an extended essay I undertook during my masters at the University of Oxford.

The episode is there to provide an insight into Sasanian and Roman relations during the sixth century, in particular, on the growing military developments amounting to the idea of an ‘arms race’ between both empires.

Please forgive the spelling error in the thumbnail!

Retrospectively, I felt the episode needed some maps for people to comprehend the geographical location the episode is discussing, so I have added some maps to this blog to aid the episode.

The Byzantine and Sasanian Empire in Late Antiquity – After the Emperor Justinian’s Reconquest – Late Sixth Century AD
Roman-Persian Frontier Zone in Late Antiquity (Fourth-Seventh Century AD)
Roman and Sasanian Military Campaigns during the Sixth and Early Seventh Century AD

For those wanting to know more after listening to the podcast episode, I recommend the following:

  • Bonner, M, The Last Empire of Iran (New Jersey, 2020).
  • Dignas, B and Winter, E, Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity: Neighbours and Rivals (Cambridge, 2007).
  • Farrokh, K, Armies of Ancient Persia: The Sassanians (Barnsley, 2017).
  • Greatrex, G and Lieu, S. N. C (eds.), The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars: Part II AD 363-630 (Abingdon, 2002).
  • Haldon, J, Warfare, State, and Society in the Byzantine World, 565-1204 (Abingdon, 1999).
  • Heather, P, Rome Resurgent: War and Empire in the Age of Justinian (Oxford, 2018).
  • Rezakhani, K. Reorientating the Sasanians: East Iran in Late Antiquity (Edinburgh, 2017).
  • Sauer, E (ed.), Sasanian Persia: Between Rome and the Steppes of Eurasia (Edinburgh, 2017).

Note: These are not the only publications on the matter. In fact there are hundreds of important books and articles on the subject. If anyone wants to know more and would like me to suggest a few publications on other areas, ancient authors etc then please get in contact!


Published by Sean Strong

Sean is a doctoral researcher working on the reign of Maurice (582-602). He holds a further interest in understanding the ideology behind identity and the perception of rulership in Eastern Europe and the Near East. Sean's research interests vary throughout the Late Antique and Byzantine world, and span across the fields of military, political, and social history.

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