Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography

Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography

Language: English

Pages: 672

ISBN: 0520275861

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Until recently, popular biographers and most scholars viewed Alexander the Great as a genius with a plan, a romantic figure pursuing his vision of a united world. His dream was at times characterized as a benevolent interest in the brotherhood of man, sometimes as a brute interest in the exercise of power. Green, a Cambridge-trained classicist who is also a novelist, portrays Alexander as both a complex personality and a single-minded general, a man capable of such diverse expediencies as patricide or the massacre of civilians. Green describes his Alexander as "not only the most brilliant (and ambitious) field commander in history, but also supremely indifferent to all those administrative excellences and idealistic yearnings foisted upon him by later generations, especially those who found the conqueror, tout court, a little hard upon their liberal sensibilities."

This biography begins not with one of the universally known incidents of Alexander's life, but with an account of his father, Philip of Macedonia, whose many-territoried empire was the first on the continent of Europe to have an effectively centralized government and military. What Philip and Macedonia had to offer, Alexander made his own, but Philip and Macedonia also made Alexander form an important context for understanding Alexander himself. Yet his origins and training do not fully explain the man. After he was named hegemon of the Hellenic League, many philosophers came to congratulate Alexander, but one was conspicuous by his absence: Diogenes the Cynic, an ascetic who lived in a clay tub. Piqued and curious, Alexander himself visited the philosopher, who, when asked if there was anything Alexander could do for him, made the famous reply, "Don't stand between me and the sun." Alexander's courtiers jeered, but Alexander silenced them: "If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes." This remark was as unexpected in Alexander as it would be in a modern leader.

For the general reader, the book, redolent with gritty details and fully aware of Alexander's darker side, offers a gripping tale of Alexander's career. Full backnotes, fourteen maps, and chronological and genealogical tables serve readers with more specialized interests.

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they also captured the picturesque fortress town of Edessa, on the north-west frontier. The district was so rich in orchards and vineyards that people called it the ‘Gardens of Midas’. Edessa also had considerable strategic value, lying as it did above the pass which carried the trans-Balkan trunk road — later the Roman Via Egnatia — through to Illyria and the West.12 Near Edessa the Argeads established their first capital, Aegae. Even after the seat of government was transferred to Pella, down

the doors in token of supplication) and marched back to camp, bawling the victory paean at the tops of their voices; though one might have thought that if anyone had a right to sing that particular song just then it was Alexander himself. Nevertheless, the Macedonians were still by far his best troops, and he had no hesitation in flattering them with a grandiose public gesture once he had gained his point. Another vast banquet now took place,60 to celebrate a double reconciliation: between

coolly assessed this impossible situation, rather in the manner of Marshal Foch, and then struck, with lethal speed and efficiency. First, he arrested and executed Archelaus: the other two brothers managed to escape, but fled the country and sought refuge in Olynthus (see below, p. 45). Next, Philip bribed the King of Thrace not only to withdraw his backing from Pausanias, but also (two birds neatly with one stone) to arrange for the pretender's assassination. He then sent off an embassy to

425, 547–8n.1 Kandar Kas nullah: 391, 392 Karachi: 427, 432 Karnak: 270, 276 Kashaf Rud: 337n. Kashmir: 388, 392, 403, 412, 427 Kastoria, 142 Kazerun: 310 Kelif: 354 Kemer Chay: 202 Kérata Pass: 72, 74, 76 Kerman Desert: 425 Khawak Pass: 351 Khazir R.: 285 Khonsu: 276 Khyber Pass: 380, 381, 382 Kipling, R.: 483 Kirkgöz: 209 Koiné eirené (‘common peace’): 84, 94, 145 Konia: 222 Köyejiz L.: 201 Kshatriyas: 418, 427 Kuh-i-Ramet Mts. 318 Kuh-i-Surkh Mts.: 322n. Kunar Valley

murderer): 106–9, 524nn.65, 67 Pausanias (friend of Attalus s.o. Antiochus): 106 Pausanias (Companion): 184 Pausanias (travel-writer): 157n. Payas R.: 221, 226 Pearson, L.: 480n. Peisistratus: 524n.69 Peithagoras: 475 Peithon (s.o. Agenor): 426–7 Peleus: 42 Pelinna: 142 Pelium (or Pellium): 131–2, 135, 136 Pella, 1, 2, 32, 45, 50, 53, 55, 56, 65, 87, 88, 95, 96, 98, 99, 100, 101, 111, 113, 114, 115, 116, 141, 150, 152, 165, 268, 406, 447 Pellene: 298 Pelopidas: 15 Peloponnese,

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