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The Campaigns of Alexander
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The Campaigns of Alexander

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  2,065 ratings  ·  50 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’
Paperback, 430 pages
Published October 28th 1976 by Penguin Classics (first published 150)
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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
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
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
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
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'
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
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
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
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,
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
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.

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
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
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 N
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
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
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 5 of 5 stars
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
An amazing read and very readable for being a couple thousand years old. I would have given it 5 stars but it eventually felt like it just kept going on. It's a history so it should. His men eventually tired from the campaigns and I did too. That said, everyone should read this, Alexander was truly great!
"The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander" is a wonderful work of historiography and scholarship, and is pretty much a necessity for the library of any serious student of the Macedonian conqueror.

The basis of the book is Arrian's history of Alexander the Great, generally considered the most authoritative ancient source, and the smooth translation by Pamela Mensch makes it a relatively easy read. In addition, a series of appendices illuminates both the historical background and Arrian's te
Intimate. I read this book several years ago for a history class (P.A. Brunt translation) and really enjoyed it. That edition had both Greek and English text (in flanking pages), which must have been part of the pleasure. The second reading did not capture me in the same way, but was nevertheless interesting in the the accounts of battles, journeys, and strategies. This edition was furnished with a couple of maps, a very helpful addition. As the text on which all subsequent histories of Alexande ...more
Chris brown
So let me start with saying that Alexander THE GREAT is truly deserving of “Great”. From stat to finish I was enthralled (there are parts, not so much but very few). The shear scale of battle the audacity and arrogance of the man made him one of the first greats. I mean hell he conquered the known world before he was thirty and then died before he was forty. Here it is over 2500 years later and this man is still considered to be and labeled as "THE GREAT" An excellent book if your a history nerd ...more
Sean Mckinley
Excellent translation as always from Penguin Classics.
Audrey Saltarelli
A good book if you enjoy military history.
What can one say about Alexander, other than, well, he was pretty great wasn't he? Arrian was an Antonine Roman with very Greek attachments and he cobbled this fascinating account of Alexander's campaigns from a variety of contemporary and latter-day sources. The translation is sharp and the action thick and a few day in these beautiful pages will get one reaching for spear and shield and lusty eastern princess. In the end one weeps, for there are no more pages to conquer.
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  • The History of Alexander
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  • The Civil Wars
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  • Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army
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  • The Punic Wars
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
More about Arrian...
Alexander the Great: Selections from Arrian, Diodorus, Plutarch and Quintus Curtius Anabasis of Alexander, Books 5–7; Indica (Loeb Classical Library, #269) Anabasis of Alexander, Books 1–4 (Loeb Classical Library, #236) Arrian: Periplus Ponti Euxini Αλεξάνδρου Ανάβασις 1 : Βιβλία Α και Β

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“At this point Alexander was visited by envoys from Syrmus, the King of the Triballians, and from the various other independent tribes along the Danube. The Celts from the Adriatic Sea also sent representatives - men of haughty demeanour and tall in proportion. All professed a desire for Alexander's friendship, and mutual pledges were given and received. Alexander asked the Celtic envoys what they were most afraid of in this world, hoping that the power of his own name had got as far as their country, or even further, and that they would answer, 'You, my lord.' However, he was disappointed; for the Celts, who lived a long way off in country not easy to penetrate, and could see that Alexander's expedition was directed elsewhere, replied that their worst fear was that the sky might fall on their heads. None the less, he concluded an alliance of friendship with them and sent them home, merely remarking under his breath that the Celts thought too much of themselves.” 1 likes
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