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'His passion was for glory only, and in that he was insatiable'. Although written over four hundred years after Alexander’s death, Arrian’s Campaigns of Alexander is the most reliable account of the man and his achievements we have. Arrian’s own experience as a military commander gave him unique insights into the life of the world’s greatest conqueror. He tells of Alexande 'His passion was for glory only, and in that he was insatiable'. Although written over four hundred years after Alexander’s death, Arrian’s Campaigns of Alexander is the most reliable account of the man and his achievements we have. Arrian’s own experience as a military commander gave him unique insights into the life of the world’s greatest conqueror. He tells of Alexander’s violent suppression of the Theban rebellion, his total defeat of Persia, and his campaigns through Egypt, India and Babylon – establishing new cities and destroying others in his path. While Alexander emerges from this record as an unparalleled and charismatic leader, Arrian succeeds brilliantly in creating an objective and fully rounded portrait of a man of boundless ambition, who was exposed to the temptations of power and worshipped as a god in his own lifetime. Aubrey de Sélincourt’s vivid translation is accompanied by J. R. Hamilton’s introduction, which discusses Arrian’s life and times, his synthesis of other classical sources and the composition of Alexander’s army. The edition also includes maps, a list for further reading and a detailed index. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


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'His passion was for glory only, and in that he was insatiable'. Although written over four hundred years after Alexander’s death, Arrian’s Campaigns of Alexander is the most reliable account of the man and his achievements we have. Arrian’s own experience as a military commander gave him unique insights into the life of the world’s greatest conqueror. He tells of Alexande 'His passion was for glory only, and in that he was insatiable'. Although written over four hundred years after Alexander’s death, Arrian’s Campaigns of Alexander is the most reliable account of the man and his achievements we have. Arrian’s own experience as a military commander gave him unique insights into the life of the world’s greatest conqueror. He tells of Alexander’s violent suppression of the Theban rebellion, his total defeat of Persia, and his campaigns through Egypt, India and Babylon – establishing new cities and destroying others in his path. While Alexander emerges from this record as an unparalleled and charismatic leader, Arrian succeeds brilliantly in creating an objective and fully rounded portrait of a man of boundless ambition, who was exposed to the temptations of power and worshipped as a god in his own lifetime. Aubrey de Sélincourt’s vivid translation is accompanied by J. R. Hamilton’s introduction, which discusses Arrian’s life and times, his synthesis of other classical sources and the composition of Alexander’s army. The edition also includes maps, a list for further reading and a detailed index. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

30 review for The Campaigns of Alexander

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    The Campaigns of Alexander made a breach in my austerity reading project, eh, I had been reading updates on the excavations at Amphipolis (view spoiler)[ which I do find pretty exciting (hide spoiler)] and since the Macedonians were increasingly on my mind I surrendered to this copy of Aubrey de Selincourt's translation. I was vaguely aware that Arrian wrote some time after Alexander's death, but hadn't mentally placed it quite as late as the reign of the Emperor Hadrian - over four hundred year The Campaigns of Alexander made a breach in my austerity reading project, eh, I had been reading updates on the excavations at Amphipolis (view spoiler)[ which I do find pretty exciting (hide spoiler)] and since the Macedonians were increasingly on my mind I surrendered to this copy of Aubrey de Selincourt's translation. I was vaguely aware that Arrian wrote some time after Alexander's death, but hadn't mentally placed it quite as late as the reign of the Emperor Hadrian - over four hundred years later. Arrian constructed his history of Alexander's conquest of the Persian empire and advance into north-western India via the Swat valley and parts of central Asia rarely out of the news in recent decades from earlier accounts. Some fragments of these survive. Interestingly the other surviving complete accounts of Alexander's reign are all quite late. Arrian opens by discussing his two main sources: Wherever Ptolemy and Aristobulus in their histories of Alexander, the son of Philip, have given the same account, I have followed it on the assumption of its accuracy; where the facts differ I have chosen what I feel to the more probable and interesting...it seems to me...that Ptolemy and Aristobulus are the most trustworthy writers on this subject, because the latter shared Alexander's campaigns, and the former - Ptolemy - in addition to this advantage, was himself a King, and it is more disgraceful for a King to tell lies than for anyone else (p41). This is the same Ptolemy who after Alexander's death seized control over Egypt (and stole Alexander's corpse perhaps as a token of legitimate authority), and established the Ptolemic dynasty that was to rule until the death of Cleopatra VII. Given that, I'm not sure I would be quite as sanguine as Arrian was about Ptolemy's reliability in regard to his own role and those of other leading figures who were to become his rivals in the years after Alexander's death. Anyhow. Arrian was a Greek speaker in the Roman Empire. Under the Emperor Hadrian he was first a Consul and then Governor of Cappadocia. We have a high flyer, in the parlance of our times, of the Roman Imperial service, writing not a history of his own life or his own times, but looking back to a much earlier era and one that was in his own day well served by available histories (even if many of those are now lost to us). Arrian tells us that first of all Alexander's one failure is that he does not have a worthy history to celebrate his life (p.67). Those works that exist(ed), from Ptolemy to Plutarch, aren't good enough for Arrian. Yet Alexander in Arrian's opinion was unmatched as a historical phenomena there has never been another man in all the world...who by his own hand succeeded in so many brilliant enterprises (p.68). Arrian goes on to explain his interest in writing his book about Alexander by saying this book of mine is, and has been from my youth, more precious than country and kin and public advancement - indeed for me it is these things. And that is why I venture to claim the first place in Greek literature, since Alexander, about whom I write, held first place in the profession of arms (p.68). One might see the book as a kind of literary version of a triumphal arch - celebrating the victory of Greek culture over the barbarians -explicitly the Persians, but implicitly the Romans. The second thing that struck me about Arrian's Alexander (view spoiler)[ the first is how he begins by discussing his sources and how much he trusts Ptolemy as I mentioned above (hide spoiler)] is how he jumps straight into the story with the accession of Alexander and the immediate need to fight some Thracians. We don't start with an account of Alexander's birth and childhood, let alone his forebears or a description of his kingdom or the political situation. Post Freud, if not post Wordsworth (view spoiler)[ "The Child is the father of the man" (hide spoiler)] we are keen to look to the childhood to make sense of the adult - I suppose Alexander reveals himself to us instead though his attempt to reinvent his ancestry - claiming to be the son of a God, rather than merely of Philip of Macedon. Perhaps Arrian felt that all those things would be so well known to his readers that he didn't need to mention them, or that they were irrelevant to illustrating how Alexander came to hold that first place in the profession of arms. I wondered as Alexander progressed in to the Persian Empire, winning victories, how his army got to such a peak of proficiency in the first place. I also wondered, since Arrian praised the fighting qualities of some of the Persian units and since Alexander later integrated Persian troops into his own army why Darius' armies performed so badly (view spoiler)[ since Darius obtained the throne after a sharp and pointed family struggle I wonder if unwillingness to fight for him was a factor (hide spoiler)] . But Arrian is deliberate in raising out Alexander in relief, in part by hammering flat the background. Alexander is the hero. The rest are literally spear carriers. At the same time Arrian can also be ambivalent about his hero. Arrian suppresses the story that Alexander had the palace at Persepolis burnt down, er, well, because he was drunk (p.179). He has a long list of Alexander's behaviours that he doesn't like - excessive mutilations, wearing Persian clothes (view spoiler)[ reading a review by Kalliope made clear to me how odd this complaint of Arrian's is, we might describe the genius of Rome as the ability to combine peoples into a harmonious Empire utilising the skills and talents of all peoples for the benefit of all, I think Ovid or Virgil says something along those lines, Arrian himself benefited from this policy - he was a Greek, yet occupied high office, however he is critical of Alexander's efforts to blend the Persian and Macedonian styles of dress and leadership. His Alexander, it seems, ought to be a true Greek hero and here he disappoints Arrian (hide spoiler)] , requiring that people prostrate themselves before him, heavy drinking, killing his friend Cleitus (pp.213-226) on which occasion Alexander showed himself to be the slave of anger and drunkenness, two vices to neither of which a self respecting man should yield (p.216). Therefore in spite of his conquests and victorious campaigns none of these things I say, can make a man happy, unless he can win one more victory in addition to those the world thinks so great - the victory over himself (p.213). This is later developed in a series of anecdotes about Alexander meeting philosophers in India (view spoiler)[ Arrian is very interested in India which chimes in with the increasing archaeological evidence of the trade connections between the Indian and Roman worlds thanks apparently to the scale of building work in Kerala in recent years. India was very much present in the Roman consciousness. (hide spoiler)] Alexander agrees with the Indian philosophers rejection of worldly interests, but goes on all the same with his programme of conquest. Ultimately Alexander is Alexander, and the philosophers are philosophers, each true to their own nature. Many of these stories like the one about Diogenes the Cynic are possibly apocryphal (view spoiler)[ I have always liked the story of the Indian sages, some of whom Alexander chanced to come upon out of doors in a meadow, where they used to meet to discuss philosophy. On the appearance of Alexander and his army they stamped with their feet and gave no other sign of interest. Alexander asked them through interpreters what they meant by this odd behaviour, and they replied 'King Alexander, every man can possess only so much of the earth's surface as this we are standing on. You are but human like the rest of us, save that you are always busy and up to no good, travelling so many miles from your home, a nuisance to yourself and to others. Ah well! You will soon be dead, and then you will own just as much of this earth as will suffice to bury you.' Alexander expressed his approval of these sage words; but in fact his conduct was always the exact opposite of what he then professed to admire. (p.349) (hide spoiler)] . Arrian's Alexander is a legendary figure, operating in a world of wonders (view spoiler)[despite the sad absence of gold gathering ants and gold guarding griffins (hide spoiler)] . He is in competition with Dionysus (the first conqueror of India according to the Greeks) and Hercules, who Alexander out does in his ability to capture Indian strongholds. Vast armies contend against him. Elephants can not slow him, nor do deserts defeat him. Do the failings that Arrian presents make Alexander a greater hero, more akin to Hercules or Achilles than he might have otherwise have seemed - epic flaws for an epic hero? Is the life exemplary in some way perhaps showing the struggle of a person to live or to achieve their potential? Either way this is Arrian's Alexander, apparently not as convinced that he was the son of a God as he was in other accounts nor as habitually drunk. But he is no philosopher, and perhaps therefore no gentleman, this I imagine Arrian's central point - can one be a great king and a philosopher, in the background one senses the bearded figure of his patron, the Emperor Hadrian. Arrian's account is a smooth read of great victories, effortless polygamy (view spoiler)[ Alexander has at least three wives by the time of his death (view spoiler)[ a fairly modest number by Macedonian standards, his father Philip had a good seven wives (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] and the founding of cities. I didn't feel that anybody else emerged as strong as a character in Arrian's narrative. There is just the dreadful figure of Alexander whose ambition was bounded by the refusal of his army to progress further into India than the Indus river. At a meeting Alexander tells his army that the area of the country still ahead of us, from here to the Ganges and the eastern ocean, is comparatively small (p.293) to which the reply is Sir, if there is one thing above all others a successful man should know it is when to stop (p.297). In Our Time podcast on Alexander the Great In Our Time podcast on Alexander the Great, ditto but on You Tube and so available even beyond the confines of the UK

  2. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "Of course, one must not examine ancient tales about the divine too minutely. For stories that strike a listener as incredible because they violate our sense of what is probable begin to seem credible when an element of the divine is added." -- Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander, Book Five Arrian's 'Anabasis' also known as 'The Campaigns of Alexander' is an intellectual descendent of Herodotus, Xenophon and Thucydides. It is made up of seven books that detail Alexander's campaigns after he is made "Of course, one must not examine ancient tales about the divine too minutely. For stories that strike a listener as incredible because they violate our sense of what is probable begin to seem credible when an element of the divine is added." -- Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander, Book Five Arrian's 'Anabasis' also known as 'The Campaigns of Alexander' is an intellectual descendent of Herodotus, Xenophon and Thucydides. It is made up of seven books that detail Alexander's campaigns after he is made king (upon the death of his father Philip II of Macedon) to the time of his own death in Babylon. The structure and name of this book show Arrian's desire to emulate Xenophon's Anabasis 1-7 (which means "a journey up-country from the sea") in form, structure, and power. This is also probably the point where I should explain how I read this book. A few years ago, I bought several of Robert Strassler's Landmark classics: 1. The Histories: The Landmark Herodotus 2. The Landmark Xenophon's Hellenika 3. The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War 4. The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander For a non-Classics expert, these are fantastic introductions to some of the best classical works of history. The notes, layout, design, etc., makes the journeys of Alexander, etc., easy to trace and understand. I did, however, also listen to the Aubrey de Sélincourt translation while I followed along reading the Pamela Mensch translation of the Landmark edition. With translations, I've often found this useful. I can see how two different translators approach the same work. Sélincourt's translation is more casual, more reader friendly, but Mensch's translation give better detail. I think I prefer Sélincourt for the story and Mensch for accuracy, if that makes sense? Anyway, the book is a classic for a reason. It is fascinating and Alexander's life is a living example of the heroic narrative journey. Arrian, who was a retired Roman military commander and philosopher, provides rich insight into the strengths and obvious weaknesses of Alexander. His telling of the Battle of Guagamela is worth the entire price of admission. It really is hard to read about Alexander the Great and feel he might be too little praised. His campaign into India and back, with his focus on uniting the Persians and the Greeks under his rule, prepared the ancient rule for Greek thinking. Christianity, Islam, etc., might never have traveled as fast and as far without Alexander first planting the seeds of multiculturalism and conquest like he did. I remember once some magazine or another ranked the most influential people who changed the world. I think Alexander was on the list, but only in the top 20 or 30. I'm not sure that is correct. I think as far as influence, Alexander is definitely in the top 10, if not 5.

  3. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    History is full of faltering heirs, of legacies that died with fathers. Some subsist on their fathers' names for a time, spending his honor like coin, but lacking the necessary traits to add to the capital. Others squander all at once, consumed by enemies, or by incompetence. Rare is it for the son to possess all that is required to further what was started. Some others, blessed with such a character, were not born into a position to use it. Money, armies, and position Crassus had, and died in Pa History is full of faltering heirs, of legacies that died with fathers. Some subsist on their fathers' names for a time, spending his honor like coin, but lacking the necessary traits to add to the capital. Others squander all at once, consumed by enemies, or by incompetence. Rare is it for the son to possess all that is required to further what was started. Some others, blessed with such a character, were not born into a position to use it. Money, armies, and position Crassus had, and died in Parthia. For students of Greek and Roman history, Parthia is a graveyard for audacious generals. When Xenophon wrote an account of his greatest military achievement it was not a battle won or nation conquered, but escaping that desert alive. But Alexander crosses it. His only precedents for such a campaign are the gods themselves, Dionysus and Hercules, who often failed in myth to do what Alexander achieves in life. Arrian, himself, points out that authors often attach Hercules' name to impossible tasks, so that the hero's failures could be said to mark the limits of reality. But they are not Alexander's limits. Plato imagined the Mediterranean as a pond, the Greeks as frogs squatting at its shore, a symbol equally fitting for the Romans, so that whenever we hear of 'The World' and of its limits, our exotic locales are Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia, Spain, or another Herculean limit, 'The Pillar of Hercules' at Gibraltar. After some centuries, Caesar alights briefly at Britain, but it's nothing to match the scope of Alexander. There is a certain shock when reading the ease at which Alexander overcomes these legendary lands, as if he were a hero of Lucian's and vaulting to the moon. One almost expects him to return bearing a phoenix and a cynocephalid (he doesn't, though there is one bucephalid). To conquer Parthia would be impressive enough, but to lay low all of Persia, the ineffable shadow over Greece, seems a dream. Then Scythia, Bactria, and all the way to the Indus. It is the sort of achievement, like Genghis Khan's, which seems superhuman, inexplicable, unrepeatable, and so it was. One is left wondering whether Alexander would have achieved more had he lived past thirty-two, whether the Greek world would have met India and China, what sort of a history might have resulted. But such speculation is mere fancy. Truly, Alexander seemed to have everything needed for success: high birth, loyal troops, a tactical mind, a generous nature, unassuming charm, political acumen, a tireless spirit, and unlimited vision. Though Arrian's history is primarily militaristic, we do get a portrait of the man, and come away understanding the unique character that allowed his achievements. He was also a man of flaws, dying a reveler, sometimes losing reason to passion, and with an obsessive desire which would not have stopped at the Indus without the near-mutiny of his troops. But there was one thing he did not have: a writer worthy to record his exploits, either in history or epic. He had no Thucydides or Herodotus, not even a Xenophon. Though many tried, none succeeded in capturing the man, and so, all the works of his time, whether of history or romance, disappeared, not worthy to recall. Arrian's own was compiled some time after events transpired, a combination of sources of varying veracity. His legacy was one of dissolution, leaving both his empire and his story fragmented. But we are not entirely destitute, and I, for one, am glad for the opportunity to enjoy what remains of a story too large for the histories to hold.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Smiley

    I finished reading this unthinkable but pleasurable biography last Monday. It seemed to me it's a bit hard to review this book appropriately so I hesitated to write or even think on how to write it for my Goodreads friends. One of the reasons is that there're innumerable, formidable Alexander scholars worldwide and I'm simply a common reader who has just decided to read his biography written by Arrian after many vague postponements since years ago. Therefore, I'd focus on the key question above, I finished reading this unthinkable but pleasurable biography last Monday. It seemed to me it's a bit hard to review this book appropriately so I hesitated to write or even think on how to write it for my Goodreads friends. One of the reasons is that there're innumerable, formidable Alexander scholars worldwide and I'm simply a common reader who has just decided to read his biography written by Arrian after many vague postponements since years ago. Therefore, I'd focus on the key question above, namely, what I thought after reading this book. First of all, this is a literary masterpiece written by an experienced, scholarly Greek (you may read his brief biography at Page i) who, just imagine, wrote it around 400 years after Alexander's death. It's not easy to accomplish such a task, let alone think or plan to do it. Secondly, it's of course worth reading since its readers would understand more on Alexander's insatiable campaigns in Asia as far as India. From various engagements, we'd learn how each side manage to fight for victory and how noble he was when he could conquer, subdue and pardon some enemies who deserved to be released or even appointed to govern some particular cities. Lastly, the readers would admire his kingly leadership, that is, he always led his fellow soldiers, took action and got seriously wounded sometime. Therefore, he's long been honoured as Alexander the Great among the few in ancient history. Find a copy to read and you can't help admiring him as one of the great military leaders in the world.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Somehow the review went into a comment when I wrote it five years ago, so I am copying it into the review space. This is a review of the Landmark Arrian; it’s absolutely the best because of the supporting material. Excellent version, with extensive maps, notes, appendices. Arrian is fairly clear about how forces are arranged at each major battle, but it is helpful to have that confirmed by the maps. The maps are essential for following the march and understanding where ancient sites were. I had ne Somehow the review went into a comment when I wrote it five years ago, so I am copying it into the review space. This is a review of the Landmark Arrian; it’s absolutely the best because of the supporting material. Excellent version, with extensive maps, notes, appendices. Arrian is fairly clear about how forces are arranged at each major battle, but it is helpful to have that confirmed by the maps. The maps are essential for following the march and understanding where ancient sites were. I had never read the story of Alexander before. Even allowing for some hagiography by the men who wrote about him, and on whom Arrian drew, he was an astounding man; Arrian's summing up in his last pages notes his ability to see what needed to be done before anyone else could, to predict where current events would lead, to inspire through his presence and leaping into the forefront of battle, and also his plain hardiness. His ability to march for days on end, overnight, through rough territory and then leap into battle is astounding. Also astounding, although not addressed directly by Arrian or sufficiently in the appendices, is how he kept tens of thousands of troops supplied on these marches far across Asia.

  6. 5 out of 5

    William

    The name of Alexander the Great entails such fascination, he's a figure of utmost divergence, against the usually tedium of the jingoists, cowards, traitors, and figureheads who plague history. Even when we look to Thucydides for his inexhaustible catalog of persons, never do we find someone quite like Alexander. The brevity of this sovereign's rule, and the historiographic volumes written thereof, only entices eventually finding other ancient biographies, and the Waterfield translation here exc The name of Alexander the Great entails such fascination, he's a figure of utmost divergence, against the usually tedium of the jingoists, cowards, traitors, and figureheads who plague history. Even when we look to Thucydides for his inexhaustible catalog of persons, never do we find someone quite like Alexander. The brevity of this sovereign's rule, and the historiographic volumes written thereof, only entices eventually finding other ancient biographies, and the Waterfield translation here excels, the vernacular is rendered spectacularly for a reader today, it furthermore gives a glimpse into the humanity of a past millennium, which is the most eminent value of all aged books.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Vicky Hunt

    ”Undisputed Monarch of Two Continents” Excellently written account of the life and military campaigns of an extraordinary man, the Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian is a pleasure to read. It is designed to praise Alexander’s achievements, and of this Arrian makes no secret. But, he does not fail to include criticism where it is due. Arrian appears to take the job of historian seriously, realizing that he will be leaving the definitive word on the life of this giant for millennia to come. And, it i ”Undisputed Monarch of Two Continents” Excellently written account of the life and military campaigns of an extraordinary man, the Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian is a pleasure to read. It is designed to praise Alexander’s achievements, and of this Arrian makes no secret. But, he does not fail to include criticism where it is due. Arrian appears to take the job of historian seriously, realizing that he will be leaving the definitive word on the life of this giant for millennia to come. And, it is true that much of what we know about Alexander is courtesy of Arrian’s diligence and care. When Alexander finally listened to his men’s pleas and agreed to halt his campaigns and turn for home, it is said that: ”Most of them wept. They came to Alexander’s tent and called down every blessing upon him for allowing them to prevail – the only defeat he had ever suffered.” Yes, he allowed his men to talk him into standing down… his only defeat. Alexander purportedly said, “There is no part of my body but my back which has not a scar.” There is so much that is quotable in this book. But, Arrian summarizes Alexander best in the end when he says: ”He had great personal beauty, invincible power of endurance, and a keen intellect; he was brave and adventurous, strict in the observance of his religious duties, and hungry for fame. Most temperate in the pleasures of the body, his passion was for glory only, and in that he was insatiable. He had an uncanny instinct for the right course in a difficult and complex situation, and was most happy in his deductions from observed facts. In arming and equipping troops and in his military dispositions he was always masterly. Noble indeed was his power of inspiring his men, or filling them with confidence, and in the moment of danger, of sweeping away their fear by the spectacle of his own fearlessness. When risks had to be taken, he took them with the utmost boldness, and his ability to seize the moment for a swift blow, before his enemy had any suspicion of what was coming, was beyond praise. No cheat or liar ever caught him off his guard, and both his word and his bond were inviolable. Spending but little on his own pleasures, he poured out his money without stint for the benefit of his friends.” Arrian carefully weaves in the geography, the military strategy, the personal details the flaws of Alexander, his leadership, and his history. At no point is the account lengthy or boring, as you would expect from a book that is almost 1900 years old. I read this biography of Alexander from Kindle and Audible, though it is not available in whisper-sync. This means, of course, that you turn the pages to keep up with the narration. I do not recommend this book for audio alone, as many words need to be seen to remember or understand. The ebook is in the public domain and can be gotten almost anywhere free I believe. But, the Kindle edition cost about $10.00. The Audible is narrated by Charlton Griffin in a voice that does Arrian’s work justice. I am definitely inspired to read more of Arrian after this.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Coyle

    Ancient history is generally just hard to read. Two thousand years, a foreign langauge, and tranlsators who don't have a sufficient command of English make reading primary sources a challenge at the best of times. This book, however, is a stunningly great read. Arrian, de Selincourt(the translator) and Hamilton (the editor) bring Alexander to life in a way that is readable and enjoyable. Of course, like all ancient documents, it should be read slowly and not be put off to the last minute, but it' Ancient history is generally just hard to read. Two thousand years, a foreign langauge, and tranlsators who don't have a sufficient command of English make reading primary sources a challenge at the best of times. This book, however, is a stunningly great read. Arrian, de Selincourt(the translator) and Hamilton (the editor) bring Alexander to life in a way that is readable and enjoyable. Of course, like all ancient documents, it should be read slowly and not be put off to the last minute, but it's still an amazing read. A few great quotes from the work: -"It is more disgraceful for a king to tell lies than anyone else." (41) -"In these circumstances they did what most of us do, and, being ignorant of the truth, persuaded themselves into believing what they wished to believe." (55) -"There has never been another man in all the world, of Greek or any other blood, who by his own hand succeeded in so many brilliant enterprises [than Alexander:]." (68) -"Flattering courtiers... always are, and always will be, the bane of kings." (110) -"None of these things [that Alexander achieved:], I say, can make a man happy, unless he can win one more victory in addition to those the world thinks so great- the victory over himself." (213) -"Anger and drunkeness [are:] two vices to neither of which a self-respecting man should ever yield." (216) -"Even enemies are not indifferent to honorable deeds." (236) -"One should not inquire too closely where ancient legends about the gods are concerned; many things which reason rejects acquire some color of probability once you bring a god into the story." (254) -"For a man who is a man, work, in my belief, if it is directed to noble ends, has no object beyond itself." (293) -"Do not try to lead men who are unwilling to follow you; if their heart is not in it, you will never find the old spirit or the old courage." (297) -"If there is one thing above all others a successful man should know, it is when to stop." (297) -"Luck, remember, is an unpredictable thing, and against what it may bring no man has any defence." (297) -"Who knows? Perhaps it was better for [Alexander:] to make his end while his fame was unimpaired and the world most grieved for his loss, and before he was overtaken by the ill fortune which, at one time or another, is the lot of all men." (377) -"Most people, if they know they have done wrong, foolishly suppose they can conceal their error by defending it, and finding a justification for it; but in my belief there is only one medicine for an evil deed, and that is for the guilty man to admit his guilt and show that he is sorry for it. Such an admission will make the consequences easier for the victim to bear, adn the guilty man himself, by plainly showing his distress at former transgressions, will find good grounds of hope for avoiding similar transgressions in the future." (397)

  9. 5 out of 5

    James Murphy

    This is another of the monumental ancient histories published in the Landmark series of texts translated from the Greek and, here, Latin. The Campaigns of Alexander contains all the signature traits we associate with the earlier volumes of Thucydides, Herodotus, and Xenophon: many maps illustrating the text as well as locator keys within the sidebars and footnotes, many photographs illustrating landscapes, cultural artifacts, and technical features of the period, extensive footnotes to detail in This is another of the monumental ancient histories published in the Landmark series of texts translated from the Greek and, here, Latin. The Campaigns of Alexander contains all the signature traits we associate with the earlier volumes of Thucydides, Herodotus, and Xenophon: many maps illustrating the text as well as locator keys within the sidebars and footnotes, many photographs illustrating landscapes, cultural artifacts, and technical features of the period, extensive footnotes to detail information relevant to Arrian's text, and appendices lettered A through M providing comprehensive supporting material covering almost every aspect of Alexander's life, his long war of conquest, and his times. As always the reader-friendly format and the layout in general make for a book which is physically beautiful, a pleasure to hold, to read, and to linger over. Arrian was Lucius Flavius Arrianus Xenophon, a 2d century Roman historian who lived about 400 years after the events he wrote about. It might be said he was the most distanced from his material of the Landmark ancient historians. He wrote of Alexander's history with a nod to myth and more than a nod to other ancient sources. For good reason, his is the most authoritarian of the Alexandrian accounts. My trouble was finding Arrian's writing engaging. The question isn't about the accuracy--his is considered the most authoritarian of the ancient accounts. But with this translation from Arrian's Latin there's a lack of feeling and emotional attachment we experience with the famous Greek histories. Perhaps the problem is one of fundamental Latin-Greek language differences and the attendant difficulties of translation to make the Latin as fluid as the Greek of, say, Thucydides or Herodotus. Arrian seems disconnected from his material, not only by time but by certain cultural and political sensibilities, despite the almost wholesale transfer of Greek culture to the Roman world. The result is cold history without analysis, a survey of the facts as they came to Arrian.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    A vivid and rich account of Alexander's first military expeditions, through his defeat of Darius and the Persians, his conquest of Indian territory and finally his death at 32 as he prepared to conquer Arabia. A vivid and rich account of Alexander's first military expeditions, through his defeat of Darius and the Persians, his conquest of Indian territory and finally his death at 32 as he prepared to conquer Arabia.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    After reading this, I would like to read Arrian's Discourses, the existent books of which portray Epictetus, his master during his studies of philosophy. "The Campaigns" was a book I consumed in a series of ancient histories, "The Rise of the Roman Empire" and "The Persian Expedition" among them. It is commonly sighted for its "distance" from actual events since Arrian lived some 400 years after Alexander's death. Arrian uses histories written from other sources, primarily from Ptolemy and Arist After reading this, I would like to read Arrian's Discourses, the existent books of which portray Epictetus, his master during his studies of philosophy. "The Campaigns" was a book I consumed in a series of ancient histories, "The Rise of the Roman Empire" and "The Persian Expedition" among them. It is commonly sighted for its "distance" from actual events since Arrian lived some 400 years after Alexander's death. Arrian uses histories written from other sources, primarily from Ptolemy and Aristobulus, and this edition has a comfortable introduction explaining all of this in helpful detail. Since I am not a history specialist or scholar and am just reading this history for fun, I will highlight some of the things I liked about it that made reading this worthwhile. Having read Polybius's "The Rise of the Roman Empire" which concerns itself largely with the campaigns of Hanibal, I found many similarities in style and attitude with Arrian's depiction of Alexander. Both historians, while identifying the human nature and imperfect aspects of these godlike heroes, clearly pinpoint elements in character to be admired. For Arrian, it is Alexander's fairness, his appreciation for courage in both word and action, and his "nobility of heart" which allowed him to see in even those he conquered noble traits to be admired. Some cool episodes in this history: Alexander's pursuit and defeat of Darius of Persia especially when it comes to the ultimate conclusion of his chase (which I will not ruin for those who haven't read it). His battle with Poras in India, his strategy against Gaza, and of course the battle with the Mallians-- Alexander's most courageous and dangerous stunt. In addition, the history retells the founding of Alexandria in Egypt, the army's feat crossing the impossible Gedrosian territory, and the anticlimactic death of Alexander... As far as the quality of the translation, I have nothing to say on this as I've only read this version, but I figured I was in good hands with Penquin Classics, especially knowing that de Selincourt translated Livy, etc etc... For what its worth, I laughed when de Selincourt described Lucian as "shallow but brilliantly amusing" in his preface...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    These Landmark editions are fantastic. They are essentially porn for classicists. Exquisite maps throughout the book, including a wonderful map at the end that shows the route Alexander the Great took overlaid on a map of the modern world, so you know what modern countries he traversed. Each page is chock-full of footnotes that fill in the historical blanks, and there are about 20 appendices at the end that cover topics such as what happened after Alexander died, who constituted his inner circle These Landmark editions are fantastic. They are essentially porn for classicists. Exquisite maps throughout the book, including a wonderful map at the end that shows the route Alexander the Great took overlaid on a map of the modern world, so you know what modern countries he traversed. Each page is chock-full of footnotes that fill in the historical blanks, and there are about 20 appendices at the end that cover topics such as what happened after Alexander died, who constituted his inner circle (men like Ptolemy who became legends in their own right), to what extent Alexander's Macedonians were "Greek," etc. There are also pictures of artifacts and locales important to the narrative. Arrian is not my favorite of the ancient writers, but the story of Alexander's campaigns is epic. I'm just glad I waited all of these years to read Arrian, who has long been on my shelf. The Landmark edition is just extraordinary.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah Lorrig

    This is truly one of my favorite books of all time. This telling of the life of Alexander the Great by a scholar and general in the Roman Empire is filled with profound insight, lessons to be learned from the life of this great leader, and analysis of the virtues and vices displayed in this truly earth shattering story.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Every time Arrian makes casual references to Ptolemy's book or Nearchus' book, I weep softly. Landmark Arrian: because of the maps, indexes, appendices, and annotations, this is THE MOST HELPFUL Alex book for newbies and/or students. Just be aware that it showcases the usual assortment of biases. Every time Arrian makes casual references to Ptolemy's book or Nearchus' book, I weep softly. Landmark Arrian: because of the maps, indexes, appendices, and annotations, this is THE MOST HELPFUL Alex book for newbies and/or students. Just be aware that it showcases the usual assortment of biases.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Having read a number of modern (i.e. written within the last century) biographies of Alexander, it was about time I moved on to their ancient sources. With all firsthand accounts of Alexander's life, reign and campaigns lost, this is indisputably one of the most valuable sources available to the reader today and should on no account be missed by anyone as fascinated with the subject as I am. Having read a number of modern (i.e. written within the last century) biographies of Alexander, it was about time I moved on to their ancient sources. With all firsthand accounts of Alexander's life, reign and campaigns lost, this is indisputably one of the most valuable sources available to the reader today and should on no account be missed by anyone as fascinated with the subject as I am.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    I read the Landmark Arrian, and it was a great edition. Alexander traveled through so many exotic locales that it would be almost impossible to keep track of his campaigns without a lot of maps. His campaigns took him through Asia Minor, the Levant/Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Central Asia, and India. It's really an incredible journey that took a Greek(ish) army to the absolute ends of the known earth. I find it really cool that for hundreds of years afterwards, there were Greco-Bactrian and Greco I read the Landmark Arrian, and it was a great edition. Alexander traveled through so many exotic locales that it would be almost impossible to keep track of his campaigns without a lot of maps. His campaigns took him through Asia Minor, the Levant/Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Central Asia, and India. It's really an incredible journey that took a Greek(ish) army to the absolute ends of the known earth. I find it really cool that for hundreds of years afterwards, there were Greco-Bactrian and Greco-Indian kingdoms in Bactria and India, and that there were Greek Buddhist monks. I think that Alexander's accomplishments were pretty unprecedented for their time (although steppe nomads had toppled plenty of Mesopotamian empires before). Although after reading the book, it's hard to say if it's because of Alexander's genius or because of his father's (Philip II's) preparations. There's no doubt that Alexander was a talented general, but he had his flaws. To me it seemed like Alexander was invincible because his army was just on another level compared to any other army at that time. First of all, Philip II had been training the army for like 20 years so it was skilled and professional. Second of all, they had superior tactics and organization (such as their use of the sarisa, an extra-long spear). Third of all, their technological and organizational capabilities seem to have been really good (such as how they float across the Danube on animal skins or did the Siege of Tyre). So Alexander would lead wild charges into the opposing armies and take all the credit for being brave and genius and stuff, but I think if your army is that superior then it was going to win regardless as long as you don't make a big mistake. Alexander inherited his army - I think that it's really Philip II who deserves the credit for Alexander's successes. That said, Alexander was an amazing commander and almost the perfect person for the job of conquering the Persian Empire (Philip II would probably have been more perfect if he hadn't been assassinated). Alexander rarely made mistakes, and he was very skilled at keeping his army supplied even in hostile territory. He also had an almost magical ability to get almost anywhere in very short periods of time, an ability that constantly surprised his opponents and caused them to lose. For example, his march to Thebes was so fast that the Thebans were taken completely by surprise and didn't believe that Alexander could possibly be heading towards Thebes until he was practically at their doorstep. Another example is when he was storming the Sogdian Rock in the Indian Caucasus - the defenders refused to surrender because their rock was impregnable, and they said that only men with feathers could reach them. So Alexander had his most skilled climbers climb to the top of an even taller nearby rock. The defenders surrendered (and Alexander married the king's daughter, Roxana). Instead of taking the normal routes, Alexander frequently brought his army along routes that were so long and hard that his enemies didn't even consider them as options. That tactic worked, for example, when Alexander was approaching Persepolis and took the defending army by complete surprise. There were a few times when Alexander's love of difficulty path backfired - once in the Indian Caucasus when he began campaigning too soon and his army got trapped in snow, and his infamous march through the Gedrosian desert that devastated his army without any gain (although I think Alexander chalked up his emergence from the desert as a victory over the desert). Arrian frequently compares Alexander to even more ancient figures and gods, which I think is pretty cool. Regarding the march through the Gedrosian desert, supposedly "Semiramis (a legendary queen of Babylon), according to local tradition, got through with no more than twenty survivors, and Cyrus, son of Cambyses, with only seven." Alexander's accomplishments were so mind-blowing that even in mythology the Greeks had not anticipated something like it. Dionysus supposedly conquered lands as far as a city named Nysa in India - a city which Alexander reached and went beyond. Alexander also conquered Aornos Rock in the Indian Caucasus, a mountain plateau that was so impregnable that Heracles was said to have failed to conquer it (although this may have just been an idiom and not an actual myth) (Alexander had a nearby gully filled so that his siege engines could reach the plateau). Alexander's siege of Tyre, although it didn't have mythological comparisons, was in my opinion on a mythological scale - when he came to Tyre, Tyre was an island; when he left, it was a peninsula (this is a true story). Alexander's visit to the Ammon shrine in the Egyptian desert is also pretty cool; Alexander styled himself as a son of Ammon. Lastly, I thought it was interesting that Alexander could actually trace his (supposed) ancestry to Heracles and Achilles. His similarity to Achilles is pretty interesting. Achilles was known as 'swift-footed', and likewise Alexander's army was famous for its speed. Achilles had a lifelong, extremely close, possibly sexual male companion, Patroclus - Alexander had Hephaestion, whom he had grown up with and was extremely close to. Interestingly, Hephaestion died shortly before Alexander (just as Patroclus died shortly before Achilles), and Alexander displayed Achilles-level grief. I would also say that Alexander's oldest general, Parmenion, was kind of like Nestor, in that he was old and wise and Alexander ignored a lot of his advice (although sadly Alexander eventually had Parmenion killed). As a person, Alexander is a very interesting case study. There is a lot to admire about him, but also a lot to not admire. The admirable parts are probably his tactical genius and his bravery (although this could sometimes verge on recklessness, such as at the Mallian citadel when he charged over the citadel walls with only two other soldiers; since the other ladders broke as the other soldiers were scrambling to catch up with Alexander, it was just Alexander and those two man against an entire citadel of enemies. However, Alexander apparently killed their leader, and the two other men defended him well enough (one of them supposedly with the shield of Achilles that they had taken from Troy) for him to escape alive (although an arrow punctured his lung)). Alexander had flaws though. Mainly, the glory and power definitely started to get to his head. Arrian is pro-Alexander but even he can barely cover up Alexander's slow corruption by power. The Landmark edition mentions some things that Arrian minimizes or leaves out, such as Alexander's probable alcoholism and how he would spend entire days sleeping off hangovers. Alexander slowly killed off many of his original companions, such as Parmenion and his son whose name I forgot; Callisthenes, his court historian/philosopher; and Kleitus the Black, one of his most skilled generals. Alexander also seems to have indulged in 'Persian ways' - most troubling to the Western mind was his attempt to enforce proskynesis (kowtowing) at his court - an attempt that the Greeks refused. Lastly, Alexander's ambitions were just a little too much - this became most apparent at the Hyphasis River (the easternmost branch of the Indus) when his army refused to go any further. Alexander was also sometimes incredibly harsh - he annihilated a lot of villages and cities for not very good reasons, especially in India. It made me wonder what the point of it all was. Like, what did Alexander even accomplish anyways? Sure, he made it into the history books, but he did it on a mountain of corpses. His empire did have important consequences that were probably for the better - especially how he looted the treasuries of Persepolis, thereby injecting vast quantities of gold and silver into the world economy - and the Hellenistic successor states were important to world history and spread/strengthened Greek culture, which was probably a net plus? Interestingly, Arrian relates a few anecdotes that highlight the question of what the point of it all was. For example, when Alexander meets Indian sages on the Indus: It is said that at the sight of Alexander and his army they merely stomped on the ground with their feet. When Alexander inquired, through interpreters, what the gesture meant, they replied, “King Alexander, each man can have only so much land as this on which we are standing. You are human like the rest of us, except that in your restlessness and arrogance you travel so far from home, making trouble for yourself and others. Well, you will soon be dead and will have as much land as will suffice to bury your corpse.” (7.1.6) When Alexander encounters the Cynic philosopher Diogenes at Corinth: Alexander halted with his shield-bearers and infantry companions and asked the man if he needed anything. Diogenes replied that he needed nothing, other than for Alexander and his men to stand aside and stop blocking his sunlight. (7.2.1) And lastly another Indian sage's opinion of Alexander: Alexander’s men were wandering at length over land and sea for no good reason, nor was there any limit to their wanderings. In any event, he desired nothing Alexander had the power to bestow, nor was he afraid to be deprived of anything under Alexander’s control. (7.2.3) I kind of found myself agreeing with these evaluations of Alexander's campaigns. It made for a great story, but I didn't find myself convinced that the human costs were worth it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    All that marching and fighting. Didn’t Alexander have anything better to do?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Liv | Books to Liv by

    The Anabasis Alexandri by Arrian kept me company for many days. And even though it was an academic read, I devoured it with great enthusiam. All the maps, footnotes and explanations were wonderfully structured and made my experience unique and unforgettable. For the first time, I could follow an ancient source without having to refer to any external maps or any other commentaries. I could also compare different sources about certain details. This splendid edition truly provided everything I could The Anabasis Alexandri by Arrian kept me company for many days. And even though it was an academic read, I devoured it with great enthusiam. All the maps, footnotes and explanations were wonderfully structured and made my experience unique and unforgettable. For the first time, I could follow an ancient source without having to refer to any external maps or any other commentaries. I could also compare different sources about certain details. This splendid edition truly provided everything I could dream of. And more. The Anabasis, as many of you may know, follows Alexander The Great and his military campaigns through Greece and Asia and the desert, in his pursuit of the Persian throne and of course, its emperor, Darius. There were many moments were I could almost taste Alexander’s indecision and turmoil and tiredness and hubris. Yes, because it was definitely his hubris that in the end, had conquered his soul. And what he felt when Darius ended up betrayed by his own generals… It truly did resonate with me. His despair and hatred and self-doubt… You should definitely give Arrian a chance to truly grasp the magnitude of those 12 years of endless wars. Did the Anabasis contain any details about Alexander’s relationship with Hephaestion? Fortunately no. And I’m saying this with great relief, because I am an academic, first and foremost, and romantic speculations are great for works of fiction. Or tea-parties. *grins* 5+ stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carina

    This shouldn't be a criterion when you judge the quality of a book, but this was a incredible fast read. I think it's only partly due to Sélincourt's translation (which is very fluid), but Arrian's writing style is very clear and matter of factly. Most importantly, he seems to be more objective than most other ancient writers and doesn't paint the usual black and white picture. Still Arrian gives a very believable account of Alexander's slow decline into madness, which he manages to outline subt This shouldn't be a criterion when you judge the quality of a book, but this was a incredible fast read. I think it's only partly due to Sélincourt's translation (which is very fluid), but Arrian's writing style is very clear and matter of factly. Most importantly, he seems to be more objective than most other ancient writers and doesn't paint the usual black and white picture. Still Arrian gives a very believable account of Alexander's slow decline into madness, which he manages to outline subtly, without heeding the common rumors. And Arrian's awe of the Ganges is quite adorable. Of course, it gets a bit repetitive: Alexander conquers a town, sets out again while dodging an assassination attempt, on the way he defeats or scares away some enemies before he sacks the next city. But the sheer number of victories is already mind-blowing. Also, this edition contains lots of notes on the text, which are very helpful. Nonetheless, if you are going to read this, you should at least have a basic knowledge of the history of ancient Greek and the political situation of that time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Siria

    De Selincourt's translation is over forty years old now, but still remains my preferred version of Arrian; his rendering provides a lot of the elasticity and fluency which Arrian's original didn't have because of his choice of prose style. It's a nice compromise which adds to the accessibility of the work. What didn't, and what is nearly always my quibble with Penguin editions of the Classics, is the complete dearth of any useful maps. I was surprised that the one in this even managed to show Is De Selincourt's translation is over forty years old now, but still remains my preferred version of Arrian; his rendering provides a lot of the elasticity and fluency which Arrian's original didn't have because of his choice of prose style. It's a nice compromise which adds to the accessibility of the work. What didn't, and what is nearly always my quibble with Penguin editions of the Classics, is the complete dearth of any useful maps. I was surprised that the one in this even managed to show Issus, it was that basic.

  21. 4 out of 5

    E Owen

    "And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept...for there were no more worlds to conquer. Benefits of a classical education" - Hans Gruber "And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept...for there were no more worlds to conquer. Benefits of a classical education" - Hans Gruber

  22. 4 out of 5

    John Isles

    I love the Landmark editions of the ancient historians and have them all. With an introduction, a fairly literal translation, notes, maps, and appendices galore, you have almost everything you need to understand the original. The only thing they lack is the original Greek or Latin text, for which one may consult the volumes of the Loeb Classical Library. I read Arrian in parallel with the Latin history of Alexander by Curtius, whose account has some gaps, filled in by Arrian. I've also enjoyed r I love the Landmark editions of the ancient historians and have them all. With an introduction, a fairly literal translation, notes, maps, and appendices galore, you have almost everything you need to understand the original. The only thing they lack is the original Greek or Latin text, for which one may consult the volumes of the Loeb Classical Library. I read Arrian in parallel with the Latin history of Alexander by Curtius, whose account has some gaps, filled in by Arrian. I've also enjoyed reading the trilogy of Alexander novels by Mary Renault, which are highly imaginative but well researched. Much as Arrian admired Alexander, I still think he was a monster.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laurentiu Lazar

    I really enjoyed this book. For a while now I was interested in reading more about Alexander the Great, but either I had no time or felt a bit irk in starting a lecture which in my view needed more focus and more attention than the usual reading stuff. And I know now that I was right since the narrative at times can be confusing, at least to me it was so, due to the fact that there are a lot of names to be dealt with, details about armies,military actions/strategies... (since I wasn't that well I really enjoyed this book. For a while now I was interested in reading more about Alexander the Great, but either I had no time or felt a bit irk in starting a lecture which in my view needed more focus and more attention than the usual reading stuff. And I know now that I was right since the narrative at times can be confusing, at least to me it was so, due to the fact that there are a lot of names to be dealt with, details about armies,military actions/strategies... (since I wasn't that well informed to that time's geography/history -- without all this information the book is quite easy to read or of course if you don't put much importance on details) Why I chose this book? Because I considered that writing a book approximately 400 years after Alexander's death with so many manuscripts and sources at hand ( I believe he had many, that later on vanished or were destroyed ) gave him perspective and opportunity that other writers can't have nowadays - the introduction quotes as main sources the works of Ptolemy and Aristobulus. I like the fact that this edition has footnotes,name indexes and maps; extremely helpful along the way. All the events are so thoroughly described, that creates the impression of Arrian's presence as a living witness. Moreover, his portrayal of Alexander emphasizes more on his good traits: fair,courageous,noble of heart; undermining as much as possible his bad habits /mistakes - which seem to pique the interest of modern works. Most likely, I will end up reading other versions of Alexander's life or campaigns since I cannot settle with only one vision of the greatest conqueror the world has ever known. Arrian's work provides information for most writers whose thoughts are to encroach the world of Alexander into a book; therefore, holds a special place in my heart as a trustworthy source. I have always admired this swayer of men, Alexander, and after completing this historical manuscript my opinion of him improved greatly.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    An astoundingly thorough and intact record of Alexander's bloody and brutal 'trek' through Asia. It was difficult at first due to its disinterest in entertaining the reader (as most antiquity-era history books are, understandably, prone to be.) While I sympathize with any who may call this text 'dry' or, god-forbid, 'boring', I find this to be a plus as it is so much substance condensed into a beautiful and swift account of Alexander's conquests. The slow ramp-up aside (it wades deep into detail An astoundingly thorough and intact record of Alexander's bloody and brutal 'trek' through Asia. It was difficult at first due to its disinterest in entertaining the reader (as most antiquity-era history books are, understandably, prone to be.) While I sympathize with any who may call this text 'dry' or, god-forbid, 'boring', I find this to be a plus as it is so much substance condensed into a beautiful and swift account of Alexander's conquests. The slow ramp-up aside (it wades deep into detail after detail until about halfway through), this should be essential reading for anyone who wants a good foundational knowledge of this period and a truth-worthy source to give it to them. One of my favorite books of this past year thus far.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    This is, perhaps, the most objective account of Alexander's empire-building. Arrian provides a thorough description and sequencing of each battle's events so that one feels on the ground almost. However, the causes and reasons behind events are sometimes overlooked, in contrast to Curtius and Plutarch, so that I can only recommend reading them jointly or simply reading Plutarch's summary. On the other hand, Arrian peculiarly notes that the march through the Gedrosian desert was prompted by Alexa This is, perhaps, the most objective account of Alexander's empire-building. Arrian provides a thorough description and sequencing of each battle's events so that one feels on the ground almost. However, the causes and reasons behind events are sometimes overlooked, in contrast to Curtius and Plutarch, so that I can only recommend reading them jointly or simply reading Plutarch's summary. On the other hand, Arrian peculiarly notes that the march through the Gedrosian desert was prompted by Alexander's desire to show up Cyrus' inability to cross without completely destroying his army; another great reason to look at those who desire immortality through fame as insane and unpardonably evil.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Fahad

    Speech from the Mutiny at Opus (near modern day Baghdad) "Macedonians, my speech will not be aimed at stopping your urge to return home; as far as I am concerned you may go where you like. But I want you to realize on departing what I have done for you, and what you have done for me. [7.9.2] Let me begin, as is right, with my father Philip. He found you wandering about without resources, many of you clothed in sheepskins and pasturing small flocks in the mountains, defending them with difficulty a Speech from the Mutiny at Opus (near modern day Baghdad) "Macedonians, my speech will not be aimed at stopping your urge to return home; as far as I am concerned you may go where you like. But I want you to realize on departing what I have done for you, and what you have done for me. [7.9.2] Let me begin, as is right, with my father Philip. He found you wandering about without resources, many of you clothed in sheepskins and pasturing small flocks in the mountains, defending them with difficulty against the Illyrians, Triballians and neighboring Thracians. He gave you cloaks to wear instead of sheepskins, brought you down from the mountains to the plains, and made you a match in war for the neighboring barbarians, owing your safety to your own bravery and no longer to reliance on your mountain strongholds. He made you city dwellers and civilized you with good laws and customs. [7.9.3] Those barbarians who used to harrass you and plunder your property, he made you their leaders instead of their slaves and subjects. He annexed much of Thrace to Macedonia, seized the most favorable coastal towns and opened up the country to commerce, and enabled you to exploit your mines undisturbed. [7.9.4] He made you governors of the Thessalians, before whom you used to die of fright, humbled the Phocians and so opened a broad and easy path into Greece in place of a narrow and difficult one. The Athenians and Thebans, who were permanently poised to attack Macedonia, he so humbled that instead of you paying tribute to the Athenians and being under the sway of the Thebans, they now in turn had to seek their safety from us. [7.9.5] He marched into the Peloponnese and settled matters there too. He was appointed commander-in-chief of all Greece for the campaign against the Persians, but preferred to assign the credit to all the Macedonians rather than just to himself. [7.9.6] Such were the achievements of my father on your behalf; as you can see for yourselves, they are great, and yet small in comparison with my own. I inherited from my father a few gold and silver cups, and less than 60 talents in the treasury; Philip had debts amounting to 500 talents, and I raised a loan of a further 800. I started from a country that could barely sustain you and immediately opened up the Hellespont for you, although the Persians then held the mastery of the sea. [7.9.7] I defeated in a cavalry engagement the satraps of Darius and annexed to your rule the whole of Ionia and Aeolis, both Phrygias and Lydia, and took Miletus by storm. All the rest came over to our side spontaneously, and I made them yours for you to enjoy. [7.9.8] All the wealth of Egypt and Cyrene, which I won without a fight, are now yours, Coele Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia are your possession, Babylonia and Bactria and Elam belong to you, you own the wealth of Lydia, the treasures of Persia, the riches of India, and the outer ocean. You are satraps, you are generals, you are captains. As for me, what do I have left from all these labors? Merely this purple cloak and a diadem." [7.11.1] When he had finished Alexander quickly leaped down from the platform, retired to the royal tent and neglected his bodily needs. For that day and the day after he would not let any of his Companions see him. On the third day he invited inside the élite of the Persians, appointed them to the command of all the squadrons, and only allowed those who received the title of "kinsmen" from him to kiss him. [7.11.2] As for the Macedonians, they were at first struck dumb by his speech and waited for him near the platform. No one followed the departing king, apart from the Companions around him and the bodyguards, but the majority were unable to decide what to do or say or to make up their minds to go away. [7.11.3] When they were told what was happening with the Persians and Medes, that the command was being given to Persians and the oriental army was being divided into companies, that Macedonian names were being given to them, and there was a Persian squadron and Persian foot-companions and other infantry and a Persian regiment of Silver Shields, and a Companion cavalry together with another royal squadron, they could not endure it any longer. [7.11.4] They ran in a body to the royal tent, cast their weapons down in front of the doors as a sign of supplication to the king, and standing before the doors shouted to the king to come out. They were prepared to hand over those responsible for the present disturbance and those who had raised the outcry. They would not move from the doors by day or night until Alexander took pity on them. [7.11.5] When this was reported to Alexander, he quickly came out and saw their humble disposition; he heard the majority crying and lamenting, and was moved to tears. He came forward to speak, but they remained there imploring him. [7.11.6] One of them, whose age and command of the Companion cavalry made him preeminent (he was called Callines) spoke as follows. "Sire, what grieves the Macedonians is that you have already made some Persians your 'kinsmen', and the Persians are called 'kinsmen' of Alexander and are allowed to kiss you, while not one of the Macedonians has been granted this honor." [7.11.7] Alexander then interrupted him and said "I make you all my 'kinsmen' and henceforward that shall be your title." At this Callines stepped forward and kissed him, and so did everyone else who wished. And thus they picked up their arms again and returned to the camp amid shouts and songs of triumph.

  27. 5 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    I give kudos to the author's desire to give the most complete and accurate biography of Alexander the Great. My only complaint is that the book does tend to get bogged down in minutiae at several points, especially at the end. I give kudos to the author's desire to give the most complete and accurate biography of Alexander the Great. My only complaint is that the book does tend to get bogged down in minutiae at several points, especially at the end.

  28. 5 out of 5

    sologdin

    wherein alex and his friends casually slaughter 80,000 persians before noon.

  29. 5 out of 5

    David

    Written 400 years after Alexander's death, Arrian retells the grandiose history in a grand manner. Good read. Written 400 years after Alexander's death, Arrian retells the grandiose history in a grand manner. Good read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jon Walsh

    Perhaps the best representation of Alexanders leadership is found in understanding his relationship with his soldiers. For one of the most striking aspects of the book is the way in which Alexander, a man who was raised as a prince and made to believe he was descended from the Gods, treated those with whom he trained and fought, and inspired and motived the thousands of troops who served under his reign. A good example of this is found in Alexanders treatment of fallen soldiers in battle, all of Perhaps the best representation of Alexanders leadership is found in understanding his relationship with his soldiers. For one of the most striking aspects of the book is the way in which Alexander, a man who was raised as a prince and made to believe he was descended from the Gods, treated those with whom he trained and fought, and inspired and motived the thousands of troops who served under his reign. A good example of this is found in Alexanders treatment of fallen soldiers in battle, all of whose bodies were collected following the end of each battle and given proper burial. Following the ceremony games of celebration and victory were held in honor of the Fallen- prior to continuing on forward with Alexanders campaign to unite the continent. Alexander also relived all family members of soldiers killed in battle of paying Macedonian taxes...for life. This was a man who truly saw the necessity of ensuring the honor and security of soldiers who died serving his cause- and in turn rewarded Alexander with great loyalty from his men. As a sceptic, it's easy enough for me to wonder whether or not this was simply a calculated decision made in order to endear himself to his soldiers simply for the sake of ensuring they continued to serve him loyally. However, what makes Alexander such an exemplary leader is that in addition to the benefits he provided his soldiers, Alexander also showed leadership at the front lines of battle. Far from modern day commanders who often sit back in secure location in order to observe and direct battle movements, Alexander himself often led charges on the front lines. as a Tactical maneuver this is often seen as foolish, owning to the fact that if a General dies his army may very well disintegrate without a strong leader to direct them. Alexander seemed to laugh in the face of such doctrine, instead opting to take the risks alongside his, and in so leading the charge- inspiring them to give more of themselves than perhaps many thought they had to give. Perhaps the best example of the this is found in book six on page 339, where, after crossing an arid dessert for many weeks Alexander and his men began to run out of supplies and were quickly falling victim to dehydration. A group of scout soldiers had been sent ahead to scour the vast plains for water and had returned with just enough to fill one helmet. Upon presenting the bucket to Alexander to consume, Alexander help up the helmet and dumped the water out onto the desert sand. For Alexander understood that "men were the better able to endure their misery when they saw it was equally shared...so extraordinary was the effect of his action that the water wasted by Alexander was a good as a drink for every man in the army" (339). Alexander knew that quenching his own thirst would be a temporary reprieve toward an ongoing problem, and so by refusing to improve his own conditions and suffering alongside the men who he commanded into battle, Alexander put on display that for as long as he could remain strong, so to could all who fought alongside him. Getting lost within the historical accounts of the Campaigns of Alexander has been one of the most thrilling, and edifying experiences in my life.

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