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The Campaigns of Alexander

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,611 Ratings  ·  65 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’ ...more
Paperback, 430 pages
Published October 28th 1976 by Penguin Classics (first published 150)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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J.G. Keely
Apr 07, 2011 J.G. Keely rated it really liked it
History is full of faltering heirs, of legacies that died with fathers. Some subsist on their fathers' names for a time, spending his honor like coin, but lacking the necessary traits to add to the capital. Others squander all at once, consumed by enemies, or by incompetence. Rare is it for the son to possess all that is required to further what was started. Some others, blessed with such a character, were not born into a position to use it.

Money, armies, and position Crassus had, and died in Pa
The Campaigns of Alexander made a breach in my austerity reading project, eh, I had been reading updates on the excavations at Amphipolis (view spoiler) and since the Macedonians were increasingly on my mind I surrendered to this copy of Aubrey de Selincourt's translation.

I was vaguely aware that Arrian wrote some time after Alexander's death, but hadn't mentally placed it quite as late as the reign of the Emperor Hadrian - over four hundred years
Jan 02, 2013 umberto rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-history
I finished reading this unthinkable but pleasurable biography last Monday. It seemed to me it's a bit hard to review this book appropriately so I hesitated to write or even think on how to write it for my Goodreads friends. One of the reasons is that there're innumerable, formidable Alexander scholars worldwide and I'm simply a common reader who has just decided to read his biography written by Arrian after many vague postponements since years ago. Therefore, I'd focus on the key question above, ...more

Arrien, un auteur de langue grec du premier siècle, est surtout connu pour son histoire d'Alexandre. Ce petit livre L'Ἰνδική contient un des épisodes de la conquête du Macédonien.

Arrivé sur les bords de l'Indus et ayant vaincu le roi Porrus, les soldats refusèrent de pousser plus avant. Peu après, une expédition fut entreprise par l'un de ses amiraux, Néarque, depuis les bouches de l'Indus (aujourd'hui Karachi au Pakistan) jusqu'au golfe persique. Avant d'atteindre le détroit d'Ormuz, il fallai
James Murphy
This is another of the monumental ancient histories published in the Landmark series of texts translated from the Greek and, here, Latin. The Campaigns of Alexander contains all the signature traits we associate with the earlier volumes of Thucydides, Herodotus, and Xenophon: many maps illustrating the text as well as locator keys within the sidebars and footnotes, many photographs illustrating landscapes, cultural artifacts, and technical features of the period, extensive footnotes to detail in ...more
Dec 19, 2010 Robert rated it it was amazing
After reading this, I would like to read Arrian's Discourses, the existent books of which portray Epictetus, his master during his studies of philosophy. "The Campaigns" was a book I consumed in a series of ancient histories, "The Rise of the Roman Empire" and "The Persian Expedition" among them. It is commonly sighted for its "distance" from actual events since Arrian lived some 400 years after Alexander's death. Arrian uses histories written from other sources, primarily from Ptolemy and Arist ...more
Nov 18, 2009 Coyle rated it it was amazing
Ancient history is generally just hard to read. Two thousand years, a foreign langauge, and tranlsators who don't have a sufficient command of English make reading primary sources a challenge at the best of times.
This book, however, is a stunningly great read. Arrian, de Selincourt(the translator) and Hamilton (the editor) bring Alexander to life in a way that is readable and enjoyable. Of course, like all ancient documents, it should be read slowly and not be put off to the last minute, but it'
These Landmark editions are fantastic. They are essentially porn for classicists. Exquisite maps throughout the book, including a wonderful map at the end that shows the route Alexander the Great took overlaid on a map of the modern world, so you know what modern countries he traversed. Each page is chock-full of footnotes that fill in the historical blanks, and there are about 20 appendices at the end that cover topics such as what happened after Alexander died, who constituted his inner circle ...more
Jun 04, 2007 Siria rated it liked it
De Selincourt's translation is over forty years old now, but still remains my preferred version of Arrian; his rendering provides a lot of the elasticity and fluency which Arrian's original didn't have because of his choice of prose style. It's a nice compromise which adds to the accessibility of the work. What didn't, and what is nearly always my quibble with Penguin editions of the Classics, is the complete dearth of any useful maps. I was surprised that the one in this even managed to show Is ...more
Jan 17, 2015 Carina rated it it was amazing
This shouldn't be a criterion when you judge the quality of a book, but this was a incredible fast read. I think it's only partly due to Sélincourt's translation (which is very fluid), but Arrian's writing style is very clear and matter of factly. Most importantly, he seems to be more objective than most other ancient writers and doesn't paint the usual black and white picture. Still Arrian gibes a very believable account of Alexander's slow decline into madness, which he manages to outline subt ...more
Laurentiu Lazar
Apr 17, 2014 Laurentiu Lazar rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. For a while now I was interested in reading more about Alexander the Great, but either I had no time or felt a bit irk in starting a lecture which in my view needed more focus and more attention than the usual reading stuff. And I know now that I was right since the narrative at times can be confusing, at least to me it was so, due to the fact that there are a lot of names to be dealt with, details about armies,military actions/strategies... (since I wasn't that well ...more
Jun 09, 2010 Jesse rated it really liked it
This is, perhaps, the most objective account of Alexander's empire-building. Arrian provides a thorough description and sequencing of each battle's events so that one feels on the ground almost. However, the causes and reasons behind events are sometimes overlooked, in contrast to Curtius and Plutarch, so that I can only recommend reading them jointly or simply reading Plutarch's summary. On the other hand, Arrian peculiarly notes that the march through the Gedrosian desert was prompted by Alexa ...more
Chris Wolfington
Arrian was a Greek philosopher and historian during the height of the Roman empire. He became a Roman citizen, served as consul, provincial governor, defended his province from invasion, and finally served as an archon (administrator) of Athens.

His book on Alexander begins with his accession to the throne and ends with his death; the period in between is when he builds his empire and earns his legendary reputation. It's a military history, so it focuses mostly on military operations and tactics,
David H. Millar
Oct 03, 2015 David H. Millar rated it liked it
Like a travel book this is more a listing of people and places encountered by Alexander. Given the personality of the man and his achievements in just 12 years, one would have expected an ancient writer to do better. Alexander clearly thought he was a god, and went on his campaigns basically to prove or outdo those he saw as gods or demi-gods. What is interesting is that his reputation won more battles than his armies. City after city, simply surrendered or the populations ran away. He was brave ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Toni rated it liked it
Definitely on the drier side, Arrian's The Campaigns of Alexander detail Alexander's trek across the Mediterranean and then into Asia as he seeks to conquer the entire Asian world. Arrian does his best to provide only the facts, only occasionally offering favorable opinions or criticisms. He relies on the words of Aristobulus and Ptolemy in writing this history, so the truth of some things stated has to be questioned, but overall I thought it was a well-written book. I would have liked to have l ...more
Jan 15, 2016 Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, ancient
I ended up enjoying this much more than I have anticipated.

I've never been too much into war themed literature, because... well, it's just not my thing. Yet somehow, despite the long descriptions of the armory and military technique, I overall really liked this. I think it's mainly because Arrianos is a really good writer, but also because he sprinkles his work with many anecdotes and stories about Alexander and other characters surrounding him. I've also appreciated the fact, that he tried his

Julian Meynell
Dec 24, 2015 Julian Meynell rated it liked it
Arrian was a Greek historian of the Roman Empire writing 400 years after Arrian lived. His work concerns only the reign of Alexander and is primarily a military history. Arrian was writing long after the events, but he appears to have done his research and to be good at distinguishing between reliable and unreliable versions of events. The book, however, does not really have a great deal of literary merit, although it does paint a clear and one feels relatively accurate portrayal of its subject. ...more
Quinton Matepi
Jul 01, 2015 Quinton Matepi rated it really liked it
I choose to read this book because I wanted an insight into the character of a man, who became the master of the known world and one of the most significant figures in ancient history.
The book reads very smoothly, I would imagine it would not be too difficult, for someone with a minimal grasp on the history, culture and religion of the time. The only time I occasionally got lost was with the names of cities, landmarks and minor governors, I would recommend having a map to refer to in order to pr
Extremely thorough account of Alexander's campaigns by veritable scholars, whose book satiated my undying intrigue in mythopoetic Macedonia and the perpetual war magnate that is Alexander the Great. While I'm neither a historian nor a philologist--and acquainted with my namesake's legends only on the most facile levels--The Landmark Arrian and the work of James Romm/Robert B. Strassler proved more than a copacetic experience. Though providing a torrent of veridical and sometimes-pedantic informa ...more
Patrick Neylan
This is a terrific translation of one of the earliest surviving histories of Alexander the Great. Arrian, writing in the 2nd Century AD and evoking the similarly megalomaniac efforts of his contemporary, the Roman emperor Trajan, tells the story of Alexander's incredible conquests over four centuries earlier.

There are two works to review here: Arrian's narrative and Hammond's translation. Both, within the confines of their commissions, are excellent. Arrian doesn't have the benefit of modern sc
Jan 15, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another phenomenal production by the Landmark series. The book’s ample maps, footnotes and side summaries provide the modern reader invaluable assistance in context and locations.

Arrian, who’s name may be familiar as the student of Epictetus who compiled the stoic’s teachings in The Discourses, provides a chronological history of Alexander’s conquests approximately 400 years after. With an engaging cadence, he carries the reader with him from Alexander’s rise to his death. Unquestionably, Arria

I am a huge fan of the Landmark series, created by Robert B. Strassler. If you haven’t picked up a volume in the series, check out these sample pages from various parts of The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander. The introduction by Paul Cartledge provides an excellent introduction, especially with his focus on the sources. The appendices, many by editor James Romm, provide context for various aspects of Arrian’s work and Alexander’s time.

May 12, 2012 Jeremy rated it liked it
Shelves: education
How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading instructs us to read classic works of history not as accurate or inaccurate accounts of the history they consciously relate but as subconscious records of the historian's own time and culture. On that view, this work reveals a number of points about the pre-Christian Roman Empire.
First, it was Greek. The impulse for writing this book assumes that the Romans valued the cultural heritage the Greeks had provided for them. That culture is
Tyler Windham
Dec 12, 2014 Tyler Windham rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Throughout human history we have defined leaders on a gradient approaching some imagined position of greatness at the exultant end, a position very few, if any reach. Where does this idea of the "great man" so celebrated in the traditional western telling of history come from? From who does it spring and rush into the unconscious parts of our historical evaluations? It comes from Alexander the Great, the prince of Macedon who, before he was thirty had taken his war to destroy the Persian empire ...more
Jun 11, 2013 Cameron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Anabasis is a record of Alexander the Great's expedition to conquer the known world. Arrian wrote this military history nearly five hundred years after the death of Alexander and used as his primary sources the works of Ptolemy (one of Alexander's Macedonian officers who later took control of Egypt) and Aristobulus (who apparently served Alexander as an engineer). Arrian's reason for believing the historical accuracy of these two men over others is that they both wrote after Alexander's deat ...more
Todd Nemet
Mar 01, 2015 Todd Nemet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Whenever a new Landmark edition of an ancient history comes out I get my hands on it as soon as possible. I really enjoyed the other three: The Histories by Herotodus, Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, and Xenophon's Hellenika.

These editions are perfect for someone like me with no background in ancient history because they have lots of maps, explanatory footnotes, and a bunch of appendices in the back that put things in context. They are probably the next best thing to having a history professor
Feb 13, 2014 Ajj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a very good resource for anyone interested in Alexander the Great. For a time when sources are so limited and accounting for the fact that Arrian is writing half a millennium after his subject died the work feels almost like a primary source. Arrian is a pretty engaging author and keeps his speculation to a minimum, often at times pointing out rumors to clarify his own account. There is a lot of ethnographic and naturalistic observations along with Arrian's detailed accounts of Alex ...more
David Kowalski
Apr 05, 2015 David Kowalski rated it it was amazing
Ok. Today I finished a project I began last August, reading all the Landmark series. Arrian's Αναβασις Αλεχανδρου being the last of the volumes. Primarily military in nature, reflecting Arrian's background as a Roman and a serving general, it's a drier read. Less philosophical in nature despite the fact that the author was a student of, and remains our main source, for Epictecus.
I'm very glad I read this but really see it as a stepping stone to any investigation of the life of Alexander. For wh
Mar 13, 2009 Bruno rated it really liked it
This was written 2,000 years ago and even so it is the best work I've read on Alexander. It is footnoted, which is great, because Arrian is constantly trying to denigrate the ancestors of his political opponents. Alexander's life reads like an incredible movie. The only problem would be that if someone made this up, no one would believe them. Alexander conquers Greece, Persia, Egypt, and some of India. He is a brilliant commander who moves as quickly as possible and is always completely sure he ...more
Apr 16, 2007 taarak rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Ancient History Enthusiasts
No study on Alexander would be complete without the writings of the only historian to pass down his observations from first person resources from antiquity.

This is the incredible story of the world's greatest conqueror, a man who single handedly changed the course of history...and who was worshipped as a god. There have been many attempts in the 2,300 years since Alexander's death to tell the epic story of this enigmatic soldier. His deeds read like the stuff of legends. Of all the chroniclers o
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Arrian of Nicomedia (/ˈæriən/; Latin: Lucius Flavius Arrianus Xenophon; Greek: Ἀρριανός c. AD c. 86 – c. 160) was a Greek historian, public servant, military commander and philosopher of the 2nd-century Roman period. As with other authors of the Second Sophistic, Arrian wrote primarily in Attic (Indica is in Herodotus' Ionic dialect, his philosophical works in Koine Greek).

The Anabasis of Alexande
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“Most people, if they know they have done wrong, foolishly suppose they can conceal their error by defending it, and finding a justification for it; but in my belief there is only one medicine for an evil deed, and that is for the guilty man to admit his guilt and show that he is sorry for it. Such an admission will make the consequences easier for the victim to bear, and the guilty man himself, by plainly showing his distress at former transgressions, will find good grounds of hope for avoiding similar transgressions in the future.” 3 likes
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