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Author Topic: Review of Peter Green's Alexander to Actium  (Read 21 times)

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Offline Virgil H

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Review of Peter Green's Alexander to Actium
« on: September 14, 2021, 08:50:03 pm »
It appears there is a limit to title lengths here: Here is subject line: Review of Peter Green's Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age. Edition I am reviewing is paperback "textbook" style dated 1993, second printing with corrections, University of California Press.

Before I get into it I highly recommend it. Yes, I have a lot of criticisms. Still a great book if you are interested in the mess that came with the successor kingdoms of Alexander. Ah, why did Alexander die at so young an age? We will never know what could have been. And, of course, I always wonder how things might have (or not have) been different had he named an heir.

If you want to know about how the successors worked things out in Macedonia, Egypt, Selucia, and the rest of Greece and Asia Minor, this book will give you that. If you want to know how the emerging Roman Empire played into all this, the book will be helpful. If you want a lot of literary and art criticism and observation, you get this too. This latter is what I could have lived without as this book should have been two volumes. One on narrative history and another on literary criticism. I find Green annoying at times and, even though I am not a literary expert, I find a lot of what he has to say suspect in this regard. The absolute worst part of the book is his overuse of foreign terms and phrases, from not only Greek and Latin, but French and German. This is always a sign, to me, of someone trying to impress you with his intellect. Reminds me of being in grad school and at a symposium and every question asked the lecturer by said students was preceded by 10-15 minute preambles that only let others in the room know how smart you are and had nothing to do with their question. I am sure I did much the same back then.

With this book, you could just skip all the literary chapters.  That would shorten it up and allow you to get the gems the book contains. I personally can't read books that way because I am afraid I would miss something important. What I would have liked was all that to have just been omitted. And, really, I appreciate Greek art and literature, this just isn't the book I wanted to read about it in.

All this said, it is a great book. If anyone can recommend something that only discusses the Greek world after Alexander in a more pure history fashion, I would appreciate the reference. I found Green's book on Alexander the Great to be very good, but it has been years since I read it and it is a topic I love, so I may be biased on that one. This book is good, but extremely onerous and full of unnecessary information in my opinion. I still recommend it.



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