U.K. readers – were you able to see Rory Stewart’s documentary on northern England last Sunday? It was a first class effort. The programme had a much broader focus than I realised, covering not only Roman Britain and the period after the Romans left but also the Anglo-Saxon age of saints as well. As a result, we went from Hadrian to Bede and Cuthbert. It was great stuff.
I mentioned last week that Stewart is an admirer of T. E. Lawrence. I was delighted to find his two part documentary on Lawrence on You Tube this week. In this documentary, Stewart examines what Lawrence has to teach us about the Allied invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The only bad thing I have to say about this documentary is that it was not accompanied by a book and is not (to the best of my knowledge) available on DVD.
The Best of Enemies
Who was Alexander’s most effective enemy? Darius III, Bessus or Spitamenes? That is the question on my mind at the moment as I read about Alexander in Bactria and Sogdia. It certainly wasn’t Bessus as he spent most of his opposition to Alexander running away from him. Come to think of it, so did Darius III. At least Spitamenes got stuck in a little.
One of the reasons I am reading about this stage of Alexander’s expedition is because in the past I have never fully got to grips with the idea that Afghanistan (in its ancient form) caused Alexander the most trouble. As far as I was concerned, he went to Arachosia, conquered it and moved on; Aria, did the same, and Bactria, did the same again before moving on to India. But, of course, he was two years back and forth (especially in Sogdia and Bactria) doing these things whereas he managed to pass through Asia Minor and Egypt much more quickly and easily. What I decided needed to do is read the text more carefully so that I got a better appreciation of the matter.
The Ultimate Joke
Well, wasn’t quite, but I hope you liked my April Fool’s post. I know it didn’t catch everyone out but whether it did or didn’t I had good fun writing it. My apologies go to Messers Leto and Stone for putting words into their mouth 🙂