Posts Tagged With: A.B. Bosworth

A Mid December Update

29th Nov. – 13th Dec. 2020

Reading
I am still reading Goldsworthy’s Philip and Alexander and Bosworth’s Conquest and Empire. I am getting on well with both books; the only thing I don’t like about Bosworth’s is the small text: just a little on the small side for these middle-aged eyes!

As usual, I have not made the progress that I would like with either book – but that was ever thus.

With Goldsworthy, I am still in the early days of Philip’s reign as king: another opportunity to marvel at how he survived the first few days of his kingship in 359 BC. King Bardylis of Illyria, the pretenders Argaeus backed by Athens and Pausanias backed by King Berisades of Thrace, and Paeonian tribes were all intent on either killing or dominating him. With some combination of bravery, diplomacy and a little good luck Philip managed to worm his way out of trouble and never looked back.

With Bosworth I am in Asia Minor having just seen Alexander fail to take Halicarnassus. Well, to a point: he took the city – albeit after Memnon fled – but the two citadels there remained in enemy hands. Staying to besiege them was not worth his time so he left the matter in the hands of officers. They will eventually capture the citadels but it will take several months for them to fall.

The Road to Alexander
I am really enjoying writing this series for the Facebook page. Every time I open Timothy Venning’s A Chronology of Ancient Greece, two things happen: i. I get to learn about people and events that I previously knew little or nothing about, and ii. I get to distill this information for the Facebook page, which in turn helps me to remember what I have read better.

Before I started The Road to Alexander, I knew two things about the fifth century B.C. in Greece: The Greek-Persian Wars and the fact of the Peloponnesian Wars. I knew a little about the detail of the former but virtually nothing about the detail of the latter and pretty much nothing about the periods in-between.

I have now reached 433 B.C. so that has now changed except, of course, in regards the Peloponnesian Wars. As you can tell by the date, though, I am on the cusp of it so that will also soon change. I can’t wait to open Excel and start writing my own chronological tables for the period. I will do the same for the fourth century up to Alexander as again, my knowledge of the period prior to him is still not at all what it should be.

The other thing I look forward to doing is reading about what happened in translations of the sources – people like Thucydides. That will be Stage Two.

In the meantime, if you are looking for a chronology of Ancient Greece, I can’t recommend Timothy Venning’s highly enough. Here it is on Amazon.

Waldemar Heckel
Speaking of books, I was disappointed to find out recently that the other book that has helped me so much over the last few years, Waldemar Heckel’s Who’s Who in the Age of Alexander the Great, appears to be either currently unavailable or only available at a high price. As a resource it is far better than anything on the web. It is short, names its sources, and is by a scholar. I do hope it goes back on sale at some point.




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

Catching Up

My last blog post was on 22nd August. Since then, I have been very busy on my Alexander the Great Facebook page.

In an effort to give it purpose, I decided to start writing short daily posts for it. I began in September, and have not missed a day since.

To date, the posts have usually – though not always – been along the following lines:

Monday – ‘Marshal Monday’ in which I use my copy of Waldemar Heckel’s Who’s Who in the Age of Alexander the Great to write three sets of three facts about one of Alexander’s marshals
Tuesday – Random. Could be a quotation, a link to a video, something about one of his generals etc
Wednesday – Art. A work of art either by itself or with a quotation or some of my thoughts added
Thursday – Usually a quotation from one of the Alexander historians and perhaps a few of my thoughts
Friday – ‘The Road to Alexander’ A chronology of dates from the Persian Wars to Alexander using Timothy Venning’s A Chronology of Ancient Greece
Saturday – Humour. One or more funny memes
Sunday – ‘Scholarly Sunday’ a quotation from an Alexander scholar, either by itself or with some of my thoughts added

Writing these posts has been very enjoyable. The downside, of course, is that it has totally distracted me from the blog. So, now I am wondering what its purpose is.

This is not a prelude to me saying I am going to stop writing it. What I would like to do is occasionally or on a regular basis publish some of the Facebook posts here, either as they are, or, adapted. My preference would be to do the latter. Simply copying and pasting them would be rather dull; wouldn’t it be much better to use the original versions as springboards to learning something new and sharing it?

For now, here is a brief outline of what I wrote about last week:

Facebook aside, I have started reading two books about Alexander:

Philip & Alexander by Adrian Goldsworthy. I’m only a few chapters into this so its much too early to offer an opinion of it. I have read one or two of Goldsworthy’s books and liked him so have high hopes for this one.

Conquest and Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great by A. B. Bosworth. I am reading this for the Alexander the Great Reading Group, which I am a member of on Facebook (check the group out here). Again, I am too early in the book to be able to say much about it.

Any Other Business
I receive daily Google Alerts relating to Alexander. Recently, I received one that linked to yet another online article that states that Alexander was unable to conquer Afghanistan. Apart from the fact that Afghanistan didn’t exist in Alexander’s day, he did conquer the two countries that occupied what is now Afghan territory – Bactria and Sogdia. It was a very difficult conquest, and not a very stable one, but conquer it he did. Something I would like to do soon is write a post or two outlining as clearly as possible what happened between 330-327 BC when he was in the region.

A while ago, I realised that I did not have a clear outline in my mind of Alexander’s Indian campaign – when it started, when he was in particular places, when it ended, etc. To rectify this, I have started putting together a chronology based on the chronologies provided by the Livius website (here) and some of the Alexander books I own.

I have only just started this project and I fear I will not get firm answers to some of my questions. For example, I have seen Alexander’s arrival in India as ranging from Autumn 327 to February 326.

Finally, I am always interested in finding points of connection between contemporary events and Alexander. For example, in respect of the coronavirus, it’s interesting how in the thirteen years of his kingship his army was never once seriously troubled by disease. This despite their lack of knowledge about hygiene. Curtius mentions an outbreak of disease caused by the decomposing bodies on the battlefield of Gaugamela (Curt. V.1.11) but it didn’t cause the Macedonians too much trouble: they dealt with it simply by moving on. He also mentions the fact that some of Alexander’s men were afflicted by a skin disease after entering a salt lake near the Indus River. It was contagious but seems to have been easily treatable (Curt. IX.10.1-2). I’d like to do more of this kind of thing, and dive a little deeper, too, if I can.

Categories: By the Bye | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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