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The Age of Alexander Hardcover – 1990

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Guild Publishing; Reprint edition (1990)
  • ASIN: B00121XB8E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,512,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a splendid book. The translations by Prof. Scott-Kilvert are lively and interesting, especially for undergraduates. But the book is a pain in the neck to use because the editors have not thought it necessary to include an index. I have had to write one myself on the life of Alexander for my students who are using the book in tandem with Arrian's Campaigns of Alexander and Quintus Curtius (both of which are your books, Penguin, and both of which have indexes!).

Penguin, you have tarted up all your other books with new covers, and you have jacked up the prices accordingly, so when you get around to Alexander, who, after all, is the selling point of this eponymous tome, please include an index so that the book will become useful as well as entertaining.

Thank you.
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"The Age of Alexander" is a collection of some of Plutarch's biographies of famous ancient statesmen. The centrepiece of the book is a biography of Alexander the Great. It also contains the lives of Agesilaus, Pelopidas, Dion, Timoleon, Demosthenes, Phocion, Demetrius and Pyrrhus. In other words, the book is somewhat misnamed, since some of these people lived before the actual age of Alexander.

The most interesting work included in this volume is the Life of Dion, a Syracusan disciple of the philosopher Plato. While Plutarch sympathizes with Dion, it's nevertheless obvious that Dion's regime in Syracuse was oligarchic and anti-democratic. To some extent, it was a military regime based on support from foreign mercenaries. Indeed, Dion even fought a civil war of sorts against the local democrats. Plato's friendship with Dion shows that Plato was no democrat (in case anybody doubted this). That Plato educated Dion and attempted to educate the future tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius the Younger, clearly shows the aristocratic and oligarchic leanings of this most famous of Western philosophers. Plato may have wrestled with real problems in his political dialogues, but he eventually solved them in all the wrong directions! I found it fascinating to read about Dion's exploits, precisely because this man was the only associate of Plato to take political power and hence the closest thing the Platonists ever came to a "philosopher-king" in real life. It's not a very pretty story.

The rest of the book is, of course, equally interesting.
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By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The biographies of nine Greek statesmen in this book are perfectly representative for the eternal battle between tyranny (oligarchy) and democracy, between oppression and freedom, between the few and the many, between the haves and the have-nots. The fighting took place within the Greek city States, but also among themselves and in foreign countries, because the oligarchs (tyrants) tried to export their political system. To make things worse, the tyrants fought among themselves, for `greed is the congenital disease of dynasties'.
This relentless fighting was a disaster for Greece and its population: `Alas, for Greece, how many brave men have you killed with your own hands.'
After all those suicidal wars, at the end of the book, Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, is confronted with a new and formidable imperial power, Rome.

This book contains some astonishing historical corrections. E.g., not all Spartans were killing machines: `those who had shown cowardice in the battle ... had become so numerous that it was feared they might stir up a revolution.' (!)
It shows us Plutarch as a severe critic of the few (`kings set an example of bad faith and treachery ... and believe that the man who shows the least regard for justice will always reap the greatest advantage'), on the side of the many (` (`it s wrong both in human and political terms to try to raise the standard in one section of society by demoralizing another') and as a `dove' (`expansion is superfluous to the well-being of a city').
All in all, it was a period of extreme barbarism. `Dynasties are full of men who murdered their sons, their mothers and their wives, while the murder of brothers had come to be regarded as a recognized precaution to be taken by all rulers to ensure their safety.'
The mother of Alexander the Great, Olympias, took revenge on another widow of his father by roasting her and her infant son.

This book is a must read for all those interested in the history of mankind.
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Format: Paperback
Plutarch. what can i say. many historically inaccurate passages. Herodutus and Thucydides are more accurate. nevertheless, One must read this book. It is full of little gems that give and insight to these lives in ancient greece. All of Plutarch's writings are worth a read.
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I needed the book for my A2 Classic Civilisation course and it arrived very quickly, in good condition and without any writing inside so I can make my own notes. Plus it's just a great read anyway, I would recommend it to anyone even if they don't find history as interesting as I do!
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