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The Alexiad of Anna Comnena (Classics) Paperback – 1 Oct 1969

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New impression edition (Oct. 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140442154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140442151
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 275,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

The Alexiad of Anna Comnena


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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This translation is written with a clarity which makes the story flow. Although I am not an expert in this period, Anna Comnena fills each page with enough fascinating commentary to bring her peiod alive. It is amazing that this material is so available to the modern reader. This book is well worth while.
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Format: Paperback
There is no doubt that the Alexiad is a biased account, but so is practically every other medieval account of this kind.

When this is taken into consideration and the source is looked at in a objective point of view, it becomes clear that the Alexiad gives us an invaluable insight into the reign of Alexius I Comnenus and the First Crusade from a Byzantine perspective. The Alexiad is also fairly readable in comparison to many other sources of the time and it definately benefits from an accurate and fairly modern translation.

This isn't really the kind of book i'd choose to read for leisure purposes. But as a contemporary account for the life of Alexius I Comnenus and Byzantine perspectives of the Latins in the years surrounding the First Crusade, this is possibly the most complete and important account in existence.
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Format: Paperback
This book provides a good insight into how Byzantium (the East Christian Empire which survived the Roman Empire) viewed the Crusaders and the emerging conflict between Byzantium and Western Christendom ( which culminated in the 4th Crusade's sacking of Constantinople).
Although what Confucius Analects are doing on this Review page I don't know
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Format: Paperback
Anna Comnena, the eldest daughter to the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus, in her later years, wrote this biography of her father. She was continuing an effort started by her deceased husband Nicephorus Bryennius who was a general in the imperial army (among other things). Emperor Alexius was an extraordinary emperor. He ruled during a turbulent time where every neighbor wanted to conquer them. The condition of the empire had been severely weakened for many years and the frequent internal conflicts continued to leave the empire vulnerable. Anna succeeds in her goal of showing what an impressive leader her father was. She relates the continuous warfare and intrigues that Alexius had to endure. A lesser man would certainly have become overwhelmed, but Alexius was able to weather the storm and hold the empire together. What I found truly remarkable is that Alexius seemed to lose more battles than he won, but he was still able to win each war.

But Anna is a biased source. Her scorn of the enemies of Byzantium should be considered. Here are a couple examples of her selective testimony. The introduction of Robert Guiscard and Pope Gregory VII is a little too concise and filled with much prejudice. The story that she gives of Robert Guiscard's rise to power may or may not be true, but she certainly left out the more important acts of Robert. She also neglects to mention that Robert Guiscard had driven Byzantium out of Italy only 7 years earlier. This is what lead to Emperor Michael VII Ducas suing for peace with Robert with the marriage proposal. Late in the book, she professes the greatness of her mother Irene, saying that Alexius never let her leave his side.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not going to go into great detail about the book or its subject matter as that has been well covered by the other reviews and amazons product page. Suffice to say I really enjoyed this translation. The story flowed smoothly and I gained a good understanding of the mindset of the author and the period. As history goes this is one of those cant put it down books. I am not sure why other reviewers felt it was boring or heavy going but for myself as person who is passionate about European history this was a really enjoyable little read. I liked it so much I bought another copy as a gift for my father.If you enjoy source material from the period then this is really a wonderful little book. Very human and very enjoyable. I plan to read it again in a year or two.
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Format: Paperback
An excellent account of an era where the main focus for us in the West is 1066 and the Crusades. The different perspective that it provides is refreshing.

There seemed to be a particular resonance in the chapters dealing with the First Crusade and peoples crusade. Maybe because this links in with Western history. I found the translation very readable although was tantalised by some of the literal translations for the descriptions of people in the foreword that had been toned down in the main text.
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Format: Paperback
An excellent source for those studying the history of the Byzantine Empire. The Alexiad is well written and interesting to read. The introduction and notes by E.R.A Sewter are also very useful.
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