Creating a top ten list for books on Alexander the Great is not easy, since few and more captivating historical presentation on one of history's great figures. Alexander the Great book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. In the first authoritative biography of Alexander the Great wr. Editorial Reviews. From Booklist. Even before Alexander's death, in BCE, his legend had accelerated, aided considerably by his highly effective skills of.
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In the first authoritative biography of Alexander the Great written for a general audience in a generation, classicist and historian Philip Freeman tells the. "You may wonder," said Arrian in his introduction to his biography "why I am writing another book on Alexander the Great when there have. Alexander of Macedon B.C.: A Historical Biography, by Peter Green. I couldn't put it down until turning the last page. This book is a bit.
Many anecdotes show Alexander as trusting. Arrian reports that he was given a letter saying his doctor was about to poison him, just as the doctor had handed him a cup of medicine. Alexander passed the letter to the doctor and drank the potion before the doctor had time to read the letter.
It is not megalomania to imagine yourself a world historical figure of unparalleled wealth, power and success, when you are. Curiously, it is a coffee table book with few academic pretensions, which seems most comfortable balancing Alexander's crimes with his greatness. Laura Foreman's Alexander the Conqueror is a good example of popular history.
It is excellently illustrated, including photographs from modern Turkey, Syria and Afghanistan, and even a picture of the remote oasis of Siwah in Libya where Alexander led a near-disastrous desert pilgrimage. She writes well and the editing is good though not flawless - she is wrong about the site of Ecbatana.
She finds his deeds appalling but she concedes that these were "if not survival traits, at least requisites for extraordinary accomplishment". Ultimately, however, she describes him as "perfidious, devious, cruel and murderous, willing to sacrifice anything on the altar of his unquenchable lust for glory".
Doherty, Cartledge and Foreman, like many modern writers, find it difficult to forgive Alexander's ambition. They see such ambition as a weakness in his claim to be a true Hellenic hero. Cartledge writes that Alexander would not allow his promotion of Hellenic culture to get in the way of his "one overriding ideal, the power and glory of Alexander".
But few classical critics would have drawn such a distinction. They grasped that Alexander's love of glory was a reflection of his Hellenic background and an essential component of his heroism. His glory lay in personifying the highest virtues of Homeric culture. He wanted to be regarded as the epitome of his tutor Aristotle's virtuous man: generous, brave in war and great in soul, magnificent in gesture, proud and obsessed with honour.
But most of all he wanted to be Achilles and that meant wanting, in his favourite words from Achilles, to be "the best, the best among the best: now and in perpetuity".
Achilles, like Alexander, aimed not to be simply the fastest runner, though he was quick, nor a successful warrior, though he fought well.
He wished to be acknowledged absolutely as our superior not just in body or in mind but in the very essence of his character. He tried to live like a god.
Alexander quite consciously aimed to be a hero, imitated other heroes and promoted himself as a hero. This underlay the scale of his achievements, the extremity of his courage and his charisma.
And such ambition could be seen as a form of insecurity. Certainly, because he was not a god but only playing one, there was a gap between the real Alexander and his image as a hero, which could only be bridged by role-playing, exaggeration and rhetoric and by a culture which tolerated this kind of self-projection.
His contemporaries, and indeed audiences as late as the 19th century, saw nothing inconsistent in the coexistence of self-promotion, fantasy and greatness. They were prepared to allow that real merit could coexist with dreams and showmanship. We are no longer prepared to accept this. Competitiveness, egotism, self-promotion and rhetoric are seen as weaknesses.
Concepts of honour, nobility and magnificence, appropriate to male, aristocratic warriors, seem ridiculous and irrelevant. Our values are now too diverse for us to agree on who might be "the best of men". We are not prepared to acknowledge other men as "great" or our moral superiors. There are now more famous people than ever: some are famous for their plastic surgery or their skill with their right foot, some are famous for nothing in particular.
We write about them with an easy familiarity, focusing on their flaws and ordinariness. Modern celebrities are not terrifying exemplars and we do not credit them with honour, nobility or greatness of soul.
He established the greatest empire of the ancient world; Greek coins and statues are found as far east as Afghanistan. Our interest in him has never faded.
Alexander was born into the royal family of Macedonia, the kingdom that would soon rule over Greece. Tutored as a boy by Aristotle, Alexander had an inquisitive mind that would serve him well when he faced formidable obstacles during his military campaigns. Shortly after taking command of the army, he launched an invasion of the Persian empire, and continued his conquests as far south as the deserts of Egypt and as far east as the mountains of present-day Pakistan and the plains of India.
Alexander spent nearly all his adult life away from his homeland, and he and his men helped spread the Greek language throughout western Asia, where it would become the lingua franca of the ancient world.
Best known among his successors are the Ptolemies of Egypt, whose empire lasted until Cleopatra. Alexander could be petty and magnanimous, cruel and merciful, impulsive and farsighted.
Yet alexander loved his cantankerous teacher and thought of him as a second father. On his return trip from Athens this incident occurred: "On the way home, Alexander made a detour through the mountains of central Greece to the sacred site of Delphi beneath Mount Parnassus.
Like so many kings before him, he wished to consult the oracle regarding his upcoming military campaign.
Unfortunately, he was informed that the priestess who spoke for Apollo was in seclusion and as a matter of religious principle was not available that day, even for the ruler of all Greece. Alexander promptly marched into her lodgings and began dragging her forcibly into the shrine. This grossly sacrilegious act had its intended effect, however, when the priestess cried out: 'You are invincible! He donated a modest amount for the upkeep of the temple, then gathered his troops and marched north to Macedonia.