Alexander Scholars

XI: Size Doesn’t Matter

20th September – Eleven days to go until the 2,348th anniversary of the Battle of Guagamela. But wait; I am publishing this on the 21st. Why so? Read on. Yesterday’s question was, ‘What was the size of the Macedonian and Persian army?’

Here is what the sources say:

Arrian
Macedonian army (A.III.12.5)
– Cavalry 7,000
– Infantry c.40,000

Persian army (A.III.8.6)
– Cavalry 40,000
– Infantry 1,000,000
in addition (Ibid)
Scythed chariots 200
Elephants c.15

Curtius
Macedonian army
– Cavalry not given
– Infantry not given

Persian army (IV.12.13)
– Cavalry 45,000
– Infantry 200,000

Diodorus
Macedonian army
– Cavalry not given
– Infantry  not given

Persian army (D. XVII.53)
– Cavalry 200,000
– Infantry 800,000
in addition (Ibid)
Scythed chariots 200

Justin
Macedonian army
– Cavalry not given
– Infantry not given

Persian army (J.XI.12)
– Cavalry 100,000
– Infantry 400,000

Plutarch
Macedonian army
– Cavalry not given
– Infantry not given

Persian army (Life 31)
– Cavalry not given
– Infantry 1,000,000

Yesterday, when I compiled these figures, one thing about them struck me, and it became the reason why I am publishing this post a day late. Namely, only Arrian gives the number of Macedonian cavalry and infantry.

A confession: To find the figures, I opened my copy of Arrian et al and skim read the relevant section until I found them.

After I had finished, I was so surprised that none of the others gave the size of the Macedonian army that I feared that actually, they had done so, and in my haste I had passed them by.

Today, I had to take a day off work to go to the dentist, so I used some of the spare time to properly read each source’s account of Alexander’s journey from Egypt to Babylon just to make sure that I didn’t miss their account of his army’s size given perhaps early, perhaps later than the battle itself in the text.

In case you are wondering which sections of the books I covered:-

  • [Arrian III.6.1-16.4]
  • Curtius IV.9.1-V.1.23
  • Diodorus XVII.53-64
  • Justin XI.12-14
  • Plutarch Life of Alexander 31-35

The outcome of this exercise was that I discovered that, no, I had not missed anything out; it is indeed only Arrian who tells us the size of the Macedonian army. I am at a loss to say why.

Given that nearly all the sources – Curtius, of all people, being an honourable exception? – over inflate the size of Darius’ army, I wonder if the writers somehow wanted us to focus on the Persians as a horde, as the ineluctable wave, the seemingly invincible force that Alexander somehow managed to overcome in order to achieve glory.

Perhaps. But I have to admit, it’s not a feeling I get from the texts.

That aside, one thing can be said with certainty – or as much as history ever allows: the Macedonian army was greatly outnumbered at the Battle of Gaugamela. Despite this, it managed to achieve a stunning victory. The question of how this happened will be the focus of an upcoming post.

Categories: Alexander Scholars, Arrian, Diodorus Siculus, Justin, Plutarch, Quintus Curtius Rufus | Tags: | Leave a comment

XII: Where and Why Gaugamela?

19th September – just 12 days to go until the 2,348th anniversary of the Battle of Gaugamela, which took place on 1st October 331 BC. It was the second and decisive battle in the war between Alexander and Darius III. The winner would take all.

To celebrate the anniversary, I have decided to write twelve posts, one every day, and each comprising of a single question and answer relating to an aspect of the battle.

***

Did I say single? Ha ha. I’m touched that I thought I would stick to that rule, so let’s kick off with two questions:-

Where was Gaugamela? And why was the battle fought there?

***

Where was Gaugamela?

The map below comes, of all places, from an article on LinkedIn titled 5 Things every start up CEO can learn from the battle of gaugamela. I haven’t read it but if you would like to you can do so here.

Personally, I rather doubt the wisdom of applying lessons from a battle in antiquity to business practices of today but never mind, the important thing is the map. As you can see, Gaugamela is north west of Arbela.

Arrian still exists today, though now it is called Erbil. By-the-bye, Plutarch tells us in Chapter 31 of his Life of Alexander that ‘the majority of writers’ say the battle actually happened there – at Arbela. But both he and Arrian both disagree with this. Arrian (VI.11.5) cites Ptolemy and Aristobulos who both state that it was fought at Gaugamela. Why might ancient historians have given the honour to Arbela? Here is Arrian’s view:

Gaugamela was not a city, but only a large village, otherwise unknown and with an odd-sounding name: that is why I think the credit of the great battle was appropriated by the city of Arbela.
(Arrian VI.11.6)

So now we know where Gaugamela is, or was, we can now ask –

Why was the battle fought there?

Alexander was in Egypt. Couldn’t Darius have challenged him there? Or at least marched to the Phoenician coast and faced him somewhere between Issus (at the corner of modern day Turkey and Syria) and the Nile? Or perhaps Alexander or Darius could have marched directly east/west to face their opponent at a site along the way.

Let’s take a look at Google Earth.


After his defeat at Issus in 333 BC, Darius III retreated east to assemble a new army. He mustered it at Babylon, which – according to Wikipedia – is 53 miles south of Baghdad. As you can see from the map above, a vast expanse of desert separates Egypt and Baghdad/Babylon. That would have stopped Alexander marching directly east or Darius marching directly west. Their armies would have been wiped out by thirst or starved to death long before they every met each other.

It’s true Darius could have marched north along the Royal Road and then turned west towards the Phoenician coast. I think the reason he did not do so is because he did not have time. By the time he was able to leave Babylon, Alexander was well on his way from Egypt. It made better sense for Darius to stay in or around Mesopotamia and let Alexander come to him. That way, the Macedonians would arrive footsore and tired while his men would no doubt be ready for battle having been well provisioned by the fertile soil of Mesopotamia.

Of course, the lack of time explains why Darius didn’t march on Egypt. And just as well – Egypt, as Darius would have known, was highly defensible. So much so that even his grand army, comprised of men from all over the Persian Empire, would have found it hard to invade it.

So, Darius let Alexander do all the work and come to him.

To make sure that his men stayed well fed – or as well fed as possible – Alexander marched up the Phoenician coast.

After turning east, he crossed the Euphrates at the well-established crossing point of Thapsacus. In his biography of Alexander, Robin Lane Fox explains that the young king now had two choices.

… either he could turn right and follow the Euphrates south-east to Babylon in the footsteps of Xenophon, along a valley plentifully supplied but broken by canals which could be dammed against invaders; or he could go north from the Euphrates and then swing right to skirt the hills of Armenia, cross the more distant line of the river Tigris and then turn south to Babylon on the Royal Road.
(Robin Lane Fox Alexander the Great 2004, p.226)

Darius wanted Alexander to take the longer, more dangerous, northern route and so sent men to burn the land along the Euphrates. Alexander duly did as the Great King desired.

Robin Lane Fox adds that Darius could not choose the battlefield until he knew which route Alexander was taking. Thus, once he found out that the Macedonian king was taking the northern path, he was able to pick a suitable plain to establish his army.

A plain: that was the sine qua non of Darius’ preparations. At Issus, the Great King had been prevented from using his entire army on account of the battlefield being a narrow stretch of land between the Gulf of Issus and Amanus mountains. He did not want the same handicap this time.

So, why was the battle fought at Gaugamela? It was fought there because the plain was large enough to accommodate Darius’ mighty army. And while he waited for Alexander, Darius smoothed the ground so that his scythe-chariots would be able to roll across it without hindrance.

What we now call the Battle of Gaugamela, therefore, could have been fought somewhere else, but in the end, Gaugamela was chosen quite deliberately by Darius. He believed that it would give him the best opportunity to defeat Alexander once and for all.

Categories: Alexander Scholars, Mapping Alexander | Tags: | Leave a comment

Of Lions and Men

It occurred to me the other day that images of Alexander most often show him in the guise of Heracles. Think of all those coins, for example, where he is wearing the same lion-cap that the mythical hero wore. Why is this, I wondered, when he drew his real inspiration from Achilles?

alexander_coin
The answer to this is perfectly obvious, which is probably why I missed it: Heracles was Alexander’s paternal ancestor, the god from whom the Argead dynasty claimed descent. Alexander may have liked Achilles more but for propaganda purposes he had to focus on Heracles. I am very grateful to my friend Jen for helping me see this.

This morning, another question occurred to me – did Alexander really wear a lion shaped helmet? One, that is, like Colin Farrell wears in Oliver Stone’s Alexander,

alexander_lion_helmet
Well, he is certainly portrayed wearing one on the Alexander sarcophagus,

alexander_sarcophagus
In his biography of Alexander, Robin Lane Fox notes the sarcophagus image and says ‘no doubt Alexander wore it in real life’. This wording suggests to me that we don’t know for sure that he did but (at least in RLF’s opinion) it is very likely.

One final question: What exactly is Alexander’s relationship to Achilles? I don’t mean in terms of his family, but rather, did he really see himself as a second or new Achilles or is that the invention of the ancient historians? Well, I don’t know for sure – none of us do – but as I write these words I feel that even if details were made up later on, if Olympias – Alexander’s mother and descendent of Achilles – had any influence on her son, she would have imbued him with a knowledge of, love for, and desire to emulate/beat the great hero of the Trojan War.

Credits
Jen’s Alexander blog
Silver tetradrachm: VRoma
Colin Farrell as Alexander: Aceshowbiz
Alexander Sarcophagus: SUNY Oneonta

Categories: Alexander in Film, Alexander Scholars, Art, By the Bye | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Through A Glass Darkly

“Part of understanding Alexander’s success in conquering such a vast empire is to realize that Alexander’s ultimate goal was personal glory; all else was secondary. To put it simply Alexander was about conquest for conquest’s sake. He was not out to change the world, he was out to conquer it.”
Edward M. Anson Alexander the Great Themes and Issues

This is a great quote, though for me it identifies the beginning of what Alexander was about rather than the end.

The reason I say this is because I don’t believe that Alexander was simply ‘about conquest for conquest’s sake’. Anson seems to imply that this was so in his statement that ‘Alexander’s ultimate goal was personal glory’ only to conclude that Alexander ‘was not out to change the world’ only ‘to conquer it’.

To be fair to Anson, I think his last statement is true, although only to a point. While Alexander was certainly ‘out to conquer [the world]’, he was only not interested in changing it in terms of ushering in a new political or social order. That’s because he was very interested in changing himself and how the people of the world saw him.

Thus, rather than be known as Alexander son of Philip, he wanted to be Alexander whose deeds were greater than those of Herakles, Dionysos and Achilles, and by this excellence he wanted his enemies to be terrified of him, and his friends/allies to admire and adore him.

This is not the end of the matter. Anson’s Alexander is a rather pitiless conqueror. My Alexander, a vainglorious man. Neither portrayal is supported by the texts. Alexander was always happy to fight when necessary but also to use diplomacy if so required. He was capable of treating his enemies with exceptional kindness and was equally generous towards his friends. As for being vainglorious – how could he be truly so when he was empathic enough to identify himself with another man? And how could a vainglorious king ever be loved in the way that Alexander was by his men? Or excite the kind devotion that Sisygambis showed towards him.

Lots of questions. And, if truth be told, there is probably an answer for each and every one of them. It’s inevitable. Why? Because Alexander’s inner life, the only place where the truth about a man can ever be found, is hidden from us. We complain about the sources for Alexander’s life being written hundreds of years after the event but the truth is even if we had Ptolemy’s, Aristobulos’, Cleitarchus’ and Callisthenes’ books, they would still be the work of other people – however loyal they may have been – and therefore liable to being imperfect portraits of his character.

Our only real opportunity to understand Alexander would have been if he had published his autobiography. But even if he had, given the human capacity for (self-)deceit and manipulation – something Alexander was adept at – we could not guarantee a fully truthful work. Maybe it would have contained less truth than Ptolemy’s or any others.

It is for this reason that I regard Anson’s statement as a beginning rather than an end. The ‘end’, that is, the truth about us is simply too hidden to ever be found, or rather, fully revealed. In this life we may only look through the glass darkly.

But, at least we can look, and how boring life would be if we saw all, and understood all straight away! Maybe our bane is after all a boon.

* This is a slightly edited version of three posts from my Facebook Alexander the Great page, published between 27th-29 Dec. 2016

Categories: Alexander Scholars, On Alexander | Tags: | 1 Comment

The Battle of Bosworth

I have known for a while that my Alexander reading is skewed in favour of the primary sources. Over the past few years I have read, re-read and re-re-read them in order to get a good understanding of what they had to say about the Macedonian king.

However, the ultimately deficient nature of this approach came into sharp focus recently when I was asked if I could recommend any texts to read about Alexander. All I could think of was Peter Green, Robin Lane-Fox and Michael Wood – historians who I read prior to focussing on Arrian et al in 2013. And to be honest, I think I first read them at the start of my interest in Alexander, c.2007. Way too long ago*.

As a result of this, I decided to try and make 2017 the year in which I would make a concerted effort to read more secondary accounts of Alexander’s life. My second decision was to start that process now, or rather, last week, rather than wait until 1st January. Impatient as ever.

I have a lot of buying to do (my Amazon trolley is starting to heave) but for once I thought I would be sensible and start with a book that was already on my desk waiting patiently to be read – A. B. Bosworth’s Conquest and Empire The Reign of Alexander the Great.

Before I continue I should say that as I write these words I have read the first, biographical, half of the book. The second is made up of Thematic Essays, which I will leave for another day. I will explain the reason for this below.

bosworth_conques_and_empireBosworth’s name frequently pops up in my Alexander reading. In my mind – and I am sure in reality, too – he is up there with Tarn and Badian as one of the major scholars of the conqueror. Reading his book, therefore, has been a privilege.

I can’t say, however, that it has been particularly enjoyable. On the one hand, Conquest and Empire contains some good insights. On the other, it is written in a very sober to the point of dull fashion. It is not a book to read if you want to get excited about Alexander.

Part of the reason for this is that Bosworth is a sceptic when it comes to Alexander’s greatness. Actually, that’s fine; in fact, it is more than fine, it is important – we need scholars who recognise the truth that not everything Alexander did was wonderful, and that he did not always behave in a ‘great’ fashion; what made the book a bit of a chore to read was Bosworth’s style of writing. Not everyone can write with the infectious enthusiasm of Michael Wood but it’s a shame when they write in such a staid fashion that you feel your enthusiasm being sucked out rather than renewed.

For this reason, I am going to skip Bosworth’s Thematic Essays for now. I’ll come back to them after I have read one or two more books. That will give me time to forget how Bosworth wrote and remember the value of what he wrote. Speaking of which, my favourite chapter of the book is definitely the epilogue where he briefly discusses what happened in the years following Alexander’s death. The insights there helped to make up for what I didn’t like about the rest of the book.

***

Would I Recommend This Book?
Yes, definitely – but not to someone who had never read about Alexander before. Conquest and Empire is for someone who has already got excited about Alexander’s achievements but now needs to come back down to earth by understanding their cost.

* Of course, I have read other books in the meantime, but not enough

Credit
Conquest and Empire front cover: From Amazon

Categories: Alexander Scholars, Books | Tags: | 1 Comment

More A Catalyst Than A Creator

E.M.AnsonI didn’t mean to buy Alexander the Great: Themes and Issues by Edward M. Anson (Bloomsbury 2014).

I was in the bookshop to attend the launch of The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare by Giles Milton, and you know how it is. You attend a book launch and get your book signed. You should be happy with that, but are you? Are you really? No, book lovers can always do with one more book; even when they have no room for them.

By the time I left the bookshop, one book had become four. I read The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare first and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am biased because I have met Milton (he is a very friendly man!) but I can say with absolute honesty that he really knows how to tell a tale. And when the tale is as good as how Britain fought a ‘dirty war’ against the Nazis during the Second World War then you are in for a rollicking good ride. I thoroughly recommend The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare to you.Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

I do not know Edward M. Anson but I am going to be even more effusive in my praise of Alexander the Great: Themes and Issues. For two reasons,

1/ Anson cites his sources in his text. I love Peter Green’s and Robin Lane Fox’s biographies of Alexander. I think they’ll always be my modern ur-texts but I really appreciate having a book where the author goes to the effort of telling me there and then his source for the statement he has just made. Well, I’m being unfair to Green, Lane Fox and others like them: they are writing popular histories and including sources would break the story up so really Anson’s book is a compliment to theirs rather than being better.

2/ The whole of Themes and Issues is a conversation with the five major sources of Alexander’s life and – especially this – modern day historians. On one page we find Anson disagreeing with Ernst Badian over this, and then on the next agreeing over that. Reading this book was like being in a lecture theatre again, and it was very exciting.

In light of the above, I am really grateful to have found this book just three years after its publication as it means I now own an up-to-date scholarly work. At least, I hope so. That’s a problem with living outside academe and not being an independent scholar: with no access to the academy you are always likely to be ten steps behind whatever the professionals are saying. I don’t even know of any academically minded Alexander blogs.

Alexander the Great: Themes and Issues isn’t perfect. There are mistakes within the text and I didn’t find the book to be a visually easy read. Anson’s text is by no means impenetrably dense but is just heavy enough for me to wish that Bloomsbury had printed the book in a slightly larger format with the text more widely spaced.

Because Themes and Issues is a more academic work I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone wanting to read about Alexander for the first time. Green, Lane Fox and the other popular historians are the perfect place to start. But once you have polished them off, Edward M. Anson’s book absolutely deserves to be in your hands and on your shelf. It has sources and good insights; it doesn’t just talk about but discusses. It is a very rewarding read.

8.5/10

Picture Credits
Alexander The Great: Themes and Issues – Goodreads
The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare – The Times

Categories: Alexander Scholars, Books | Tags: | 2 Comments

An engaging historical mystery

The Lost Book of Alexander the GreatAlexander died in June 323 B.C. At the time of his death, his wife Roxane was pregnant. Hoping that the child would be a boy, Alexander’s generals divided the late king’s empire between themselves to run until Alexander’s son (please Zeus) came of age.

As it turned out, Roxane did indeed give birth to a boy. Despite this, the generals divided once more between those who supported the newly named Alexander IV, and those who wanted to rule the territory as independent states. Perdiccas, Alexander’s deputy at the time of his death, led the loyalist faction. Ptolemy, governor of Egypt, was a splitter.

In 320 B.C., Perdiccas went to war against Ptolemy. He lost and was assassinated by his own men.

After arriving in Egypt, Ptolemy began writing his memoirs. Some scholars believe he wrote them soon after his arrival because he takes a couple of jabs at Perdiccas – what would have been the point of doing so years after his enemy had died? Others, however, believe that the memoirs belong to a much later date, one no earlier than 310/09, as Ptolemy corrects another historian who did not write his account until then.

I wonder if Ptolemy wrote and rewrote his book over the course of years thus giving it the appearance of belonging to distinct periods. Either way, his memoirs were eventually lost. Happily, this did not before before Arrian, in the second century A.D., used them as one of the major sources of his account of Alexander’s expedition.

Which brings us to The Lost Book of Alexander the Great by Andrew Young. It is a very brave attempt to find Ptolemy’s lost memoir in Arrian’s Anabasis. I say brave but maybe it is just foolhardy, for how does one find a lost text inside another?

Young is completely upfront about this problem. He isn’t scared to say maybe and perhaps. The book, therefore, is written honestly. But what use are too many of them to readers? For my part, I enjoyed The Lost Book because I enjoy reading about Alexander. I’d read his shopping list if it was available. Ptolemy is my favourite of his generals so that was a bonus.

I have to admit, though, I didn’t come away from The Lost Book thinking that it added much to my understanding of Alexander or Ptolemy. There are certainly no revelatory insights in it. The book joins dots where it can but is forced to imagine a fair number of others.

Despite this, I am not inclined to say that The Lost Book is a waste of time. In my opinion, it does have a value, and that is in the simple fact that it is bold enough to confront the question of whether it is possible to find Ptolemy in Arrian.

Maybe it would have been better for the question to be answered in an essay or monograph but that’s by-the-bye, the fact is that it is a reasonable question to ask and Andrew Young has had the guts to stick his neck above the parapet and give an answer. The question is a difficult one, actually, an impossible one, but it still deserves answering. I applaud Young for daring to do so and recommend the book to you.

7/10

Picture Credit
Front Cover of The Lost Book: Tower Books

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The Air He Breathes Is The Complexity Of Life

The Mighty DeadThe Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicholson is an intense and enlightening read.

The book is also a deeply personal one as Nicholson grounds Homer’s story – which for him begins not in the eighth century B.C. when Homer is supposed to have lived, nor even in c.1250 when the events that inspired The Iliad are believed to have taken place, but centuries earlier – in the journey of his own life.

Thus, we find him ruminating on Homer while sailing in the Atlantic, and searching for the gates of Hades in southern Spain. This might have been just a nice literary conceit had Nicholson not included an account of how he was raped at Palmyra in Syria.

It is very brave of him to tell such a story and it elevates the personal aspect of this book from potentially being just a means to an end to being part of the end; Palmyra connects his life to that of the Trojans and Greeks whose story Homer told in a way that writing from a study or even boat never could.

Even at the best of times, The Mighty Dead is not an easy going read – there’s too much going on, both in the past and present – for that to be the case, but what it loses in casualness it makes up for in insight. I cannot stress that enough. Therefore, if you are interested in Homer or even just want to read a really well-written book, I recommend The Mighty Dead to you. I am sure you will not be disappointed.

9/10

Picture Credit
Front cover of The Mighty Dead: Waterstones

Categories: Alexander Scholars, Books | Tags: | 1 Comment

Getting the Rub of the Green

For the last three or so years I have concentrated on reading the five ancient Roman/Greek accounts of Alexander’s life.

Having now read Arrian, Curtius, Diodorus, Justin and Plutarch all the way through and more than once I now feel ready to engage with the modern historians once more.

Unfortunately, I do not at the moment have half as much time as I should like to do this. Never mind, I told myself, I’ll limit myself to reading previously unread historians all the way through. I’d like to say hello to old friends, though, so I will just read a chapter of their books in order to re-acquaint myself with the author again.  It’s not perfect but is better than nothing.

p_green

In that spirit, I opened up Peter Green’s Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C. A Historical Biography. It was one of the first books about Alexander that I read and second only to Robin Lane Fox’s in how much I enjoyed it.

This time round I read the chapter titled The Captain-General and I am delighted to say that I enjoyed it just as much as I did in memory. What I appreciated most was the way Green combined his historical account of Alexander’s life with his own comments and analysis. The two seemed to me to be in perfect balance and harmony. Perhaps as a result of this, or just on account of Green’s superior penmanship, the chapter flowed really well and before I knew it I had reached the end.

I didn’t think the chapter was perfect. Green makes unsupported statements*. It is only recently that I have begun to realise that scholars do this, and in my opinion – even if you are writing for a general audience – this is a bad habit. Why do they do it?

But what is positive about this chapter far outweighs the negative. For example, another good thing about it is its judicious use of graphics; here a map of Alexander’s route through Asia Minor, there a map of the Persian satrapies – and in the middle a table showing the make-up of the Macedonian army when it left Macedon.

I would like to end by praising Green’s analysis. Useful, valuable, and interesting. Here are some of the things that I highlighted as I read,

  • Parmenion and Antipater may not have been acting in an entirely disinterested fashion when they told Alexander he should marry and father an heir before beginning his expedition. Both had unmarried daughters
  • 12,000 of Alexander’s men remained behind to defend Macedon against her enemies after he left for Asia Minor. This tells you a great deal about how reconciled Greece was to Macedonian control
  • The ‘scientific knowledge’ that Alexander brought back with him after his return to Babylon formed the basis of the West’s understanding of the East for centuries afterwards

I came away from Alexander of Macedon feeling enriched by it. I had learnt new knowledge, or relearnt old, dared to disagree and been encouraged by Green’s professionalism to continue my own study. I really can’t ask much more from a book than that.

So, if you are looking for a book about Alexander to read, I strongly recommend this one. Peter Green has been there and is a great teacher to listen to and debate with, to ponder and use as a springboard to further study.

* For example, ‘Alexander himself often derived malicious amusement from playing [his court writers] off against each other’. Really? This is a juicy bit of gossip – and not information I recall seeing anywhere else – it must be worth an explanation, or at least a footnote. Sadly, neither is forthcoming
Categories: Alexander Scholars | Tags: | 6 Comments

A Country Ancient and Modern

I.

I have just started reading Philip and Alexander of Macedon by D G Hogarth. This book was first published in 1897 and so represents a Victorian (or Victorian’s) view of Alexander and his father.

I’m reading the book for two reasons.

One To find out what the Victorian view of Alexander was. As Philip and Alexander predates World War One I am imagining that its view of war, for example, might be more ‘positive’ (if that is the right word to use). Hogarth’s view of the Persians in relation to Alexander will also be interesting to see. Will his Alexander be to his subjects what Britain in the late Victorian period was to hers?

Two I would like to learn more about David Hogarth. I first discovered him in my reading about T E Lawrence; Hogarth was Lawrence’s boss during the 1910 archaeological season at Carchemish. The two would meet again during the Arab Revolt. Last week, I attended a talk on Lawrence at the British Museum. There, the speaker described Hogarth as a man ‘in desperate need of a biography’. If I can read more of his works, including, of course, his autobiographical ones, maybe I will jot down a few words about him.

T.E._Lawrence;_D.G._Hogarth;_Lt._Col._Dawnay T E Lawrence (L), D G Hogarth (centre), Lt. Col. Alan Dawnay (R)

***

It isn’t in my mind to do a ‘read through’ of Philip and Alexander but as and when I come across any information or insights I will be sure to share them.

On that note, I already have something I would like to mention. In his Prologue The Man of the Age Hogarth dismisses Connop Thirlwall’s idea that Philip was ‘”great, not for what he was, but for what it was given him to do!”‘. Philip, Hogarth replies, was not ‘a blind tool of heaven’ but could see clearly ‘the faults of a dying order’. His response was to evolve

… the first European Power in the modern sense of the word – an armed nation with a common national ideal.

I had to catch my breath when I read that as I am used to thinking of the nation state rising in the Middle Ages. Thinking about it, though, I can see the sense in what Hogarth is saying. If he is right, I wonder if we can call Alexander’s empire an E.U. of the east. I shall keep that thought in mind.

Picture credits
T E Lawrence, D G Hogarth and Lt. Col. A Dawnay: Wikipedia

See also
ii. General Ronald Storrs and Cardinal Francis Bourne
iii. David Hogarth on Alexander’s Influence

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