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Penguin Classics #253: The Campaigns of Alexanderby Arrian
Synopses & Reviews
‘His passion was for glory only, and in that he was insatiable’
Although written over four hundred years after Alexander’s death, Arrian’s Campaigns of Alexander is the most reliable account of the man and his achievements we have. Arrian’s own experience as a military commander gave him unique insights into the life of the world’s greatest conqueror. He tells of Alexander’s violent suppression of the Theban rebellion, his total defeat of Persia, and his campaigns through Egypt, India and Babylon – establishing new cities and destroying others in his path. While Alexander emerges from this record as an unparalleled and charismatic leader, Arrian succeeds brilliantly in creating an objective and fully rounded portrait of a man of boundless ambition, who was exposed to the temptations of power and worshipped as a god in his own lifetime.
Aubrey de Sélincourt’s vivid translation is accompanied by J. R. Hamilton’s introduction, which discusses Arrian’s life and times, his synthesis of other classical sources and the composition of Alexander’s army. The edition also includes maps, a list for further reading and a detailed index.
This is a generally reliable account of the life, character, and military operations of the great conqueror, written by a Greek historian and military administrator for the Romans 400 years after the events it relates.
Although written over four hundred years after Alexander's death, Arrian's 'Campaigns of Alexander' is our best source of knowledge of the man and his deeds. Arrain had himself been a military commander, and his record of the exploits of the world's greatest conqueror reveals sympathy for his subject, without the adulation or contempt which so often mar other histories of the time. Arrain's unaffected style of writing, with its matter-of-fact tone, offsets the remarkable career and paradoxical nature of Alexander, giving us a fair, clear report about a man who was worshipped as a god in his own lifetime.
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