To notes as of 3/14/95
I. End as of 3/14/95
1. NOW. . .Who else have we got from the ancient world?
a) The oldest source we've got, as I mentioned, is Diodorus Siculus. For legitimate reasons, he's ranked rather low among the sources, chiefly because he really was out to do the "Time-Life" bit--his title is "The Encyclopedia of History."
b) YOU WILL BE PLEASED to know he had a contemporary, a romanized GAUL named Pompeius Trogus out to do the same thing only more thoroughly.
(1) Wrote in the Peripatetic style (Alarm bells?)
(2) Tried (as a peripatetic would) to be exhaustive and thorough--didn't commit even Thucydides' sin (by modern standards) of re-creating the speeches.
(3) Considered to have used Cleitarchus--hence his classification (this is important!) as a "Journalistic" Alexander historian. The more elegant term, meaning exactly the same thing, is "the vulgate" tradition.
(4) So why aren't we using him? Because a fellow named Justinianus c. A.D. 200 did a "Reader's Digest" job on him, (verb/noun for that: epitome/epitomize) badly, and what Justin thought were the good parts has not proved so to most of we historians. We use him only when we haven't a choice, ruling out, quite often wrongly, the perfectly valid alternative of "nothing."
c) Next oldest, and in better shape, Quintus Curtius Rufus, as Roman as they come--trust one of them to pick up on Alexander's campaigns.
(1) Wrote around 63 A.D, ten books, we've got book 3 on with gaps in 5,6, and 10.
(2) They call it peripatetic, again. Does that mean it was thorough (it certainly is) or that it contains damning material on Alexander?
(3) Probably used the mercenaries, Callisthenes, Ptolemy, Aristobulus, whatever Curtius could get his hands on. Guess what the label is? "Journalistic."
(4) Well worth reading, and in paperback. Good paper material, hint hint.
d) Next oldest: the guy we actually ARE reading, our buddy Plutarch.
(1) Who he? Again, native Greek, educated at the Academy in Athens and a neo- Platonist, born in Chaeronea, priest of Apollo at Delphi, definitely involved (strategus) in local Athenian government under the Empire, possibly honorary consul at Rome when he was giving lectures there. Incredibly erudite man. Besides the biographies, twelve volumes of the Moralia on every topic under the sun.
(2) Sources (Label)Everybody and everything useful to him for his stated purpose in writing his parallel biographies of famous Greeks and Romans (Alexander's counterpart was Julius Caesar). The purpose was to teach Greeks of famous Romans, Romans of famous Greeks, and most of all to help every reader to come up to the standards of neo-Platonic morality.
(3) His label? NO label! He outfoxed the critics! That's why we're using him, so that you can get a smattering of both schools without having to read both Curtius and Arrian.
e) And, last, but not least, Arrian.
(1) Full name: Flavius Arrianus Xenophon. It is redundant after that to say "Romanized Greek." c. 2nd A.D.
(2) Once again, pupil of a philosopher, Epictetus the Stoic, believed that happiness was virtue and that virtue lay in fulfilling all obligations imposed by one's existence in a world united in God.
(3) Preserved Epictetus's writing but saw his own duties in the military, but fought
(a) In the field, repelled an invasion of Cappadocia by the Alans as governor under Hadrian
(b) Due to a consistent level of technology, he really could as a conscientious general study something 500 years old with pressing interest.
(c) The emperor Caracalla, be it noted, even incorporated a Macedonian phalanx with period equipment and tactics into his own campaign against the Persians. No word on how well it did.
(4) (When retired) with his pen:
(a) Military treatises, how to handle troops in the field
(b) History of Parthia, whom Trajan had fought and a continuing Roman enemy
(c) 2-Part History of Alexander
(i) Anabasis--Alexander's duplication of Xenophon's expedition (you might guess that Arrian admired Xenophon)
(ii) Indica--Alexander's journey to India and the Afghani campaign, and the return
(iii) Trajan admired and emulated Alexander. It looks as if Arrian was writing for the market
(d) History of the Successors, for which I would bite someone, only fragments left.
(5) Characteristics of Arrian's Work:
(a) Proclamation of source criticism, however much we might laugh at "Kings don't lie."
(b) Said that he was out to tell you what actually happened, not to make a hero or a villain out of Alexander.
(c) Because of his stated preference for Ptolemy and the Ephemerides, he is consdered the sole survivor of the "Imperial school" of Alexander historiography. Worth noting, though, that Arrian thought there was material worth having from the "Journalists."
(d) Differentiated his material with his language so that you had an idea of how strongly he believed what he was repeating.
(6) SO why aren't we reading him? It was a tough call!
(a) It's ALL there, a huge book 300 pages long JUST on Alexander.
(b) The Penguin translation, for all it's cheapness and availability is TOUGH to read. As an interested undergraduate I had one hell of a time finishing it.
(c) I had other plans for the rest of the semester, but Arrian will tell you one hell of a lot on Alexander.
(d) Could sure come in handy on the paper.
f) Ir you're interested enough in this sort of thing to want more, two books: A. B. Bosworth's _From Arrian to Alexander_ and Nicholas Hammond's _Three Historians of Alexander the Great_.
A. AND, then, what have YOU accomplished, ye modern Ancient Historians?
1. Well, the Middle Ages had the Romance, the Renaissance had the Curtius and the Justin, later the Arrian, and the Diodorus.
a) He is depicted in Medieval Christian art in all the apparel of a Christian crusader or knight errant--he marched East, just as Uncle Cadfael had done.
b) In the Talmud, anecdotes about Alexander having him recognizing the authority of the hereditary priesthood at Jerusalem and (in the more extreme versions) converting to Judaeism because of his liberation of Palestine from the Persians..
2. Plutarch stayed popular throughout the 18th Century, and in the 19th Century it REALLY took off.
3. Enter the most formidable figures in Ancient History since the Roman Army: the 19th Century German scholars.
4. Rheinhold Niebuhr got the ball rolling, but was eclipsed by his pupil.
5. THE Biggest Gun: Droysen, whose 19th Century distaste for Napoleon plastered Philip in his big book in the 1870's.
a) But who liked Alexander because Alexander shared his own interest (as an outsider) in Greek culture and civilization.
b) Was an avowed monarchist (a good thing to be in 1870's Germany!) and wasn't out to criticize a king who benefitted his own people...
c) And a devout protestant who believed that Alexander's career had done a great deal to prepare the world for Christianity. Before you think that's silly--why is the New Testament written in Greek?
d) Droysen was also the first, but not the last, to take Alexander's efforts to fuse the Macedonians and Persians (back) into a single people (under him) as an effort to unite the world in universal brotherhood in a process called "reconciliation and fusion."
6. Wilcken was his skilled and devoted pupil, and also one of the greatest papyrologists of all time (explain papyrology and the mechanics thereof). He may be "Imperial" but he's easy to read, well-informed, and the notes by Gene Borza (no slouch) give a good survey of scholarship since Wilcken wrote the book.
7. Enter two more Germanic Scholars (both Austrians) of the Next Generation , both of whom had very intersting encounters with their nation's world-conqueror.
a) Fritz Schachermayer published his _Indogermannen und Orient_ in 1944. Who was running Austria in 1944?
(1) The theme of the book was that Alexander, the _Ubermensch_ (via Friedrich Nietzsche), had asserted the rightful mastery of the Indo-Germanic (Aryan) Herrenvolk over the inferior (Semitic) peoples of the East.
(2) It gets better--by trying to mix the Persians with his Aryans, however, Alexander committed two of the worst sins in Nazi morality: Rossenschande und Blutschande, race- guilt and blood guilt resulting from ethnic and genetic pollution. The penalty of the Nazi Nuremburg tribunal for a German having intercourse with a Jew was death.
(3) In 194_9_ Schachermayer wrote his second book, Alexander: Ingenium und Maacht," which completely ignored his first book. Alexander had started out well-intentioned, a great creative genius, corrupted by absolute power into the ravening murderous monster he became. Those around him were forced to endure him like a natural disaster.
(4) Schachermayer published some fine material since, and on other subjects, but he was never forgiven. He died in 1993, still on the outs as a scholar.
b) Enter another historian and probably the single greatest living scholar of Alexander the Great.
c) Ernst Badian is an Austrian Jew who made it to Britain just ahead of the Gestapo.
(1) In a series of devastating articles, collected into books but never turned into a full-length biography, Badian has made his reputation by systematically stripping away any veneer of idealism or altruism behind Alexander's deeds.
(2) His tactic has been to accept the vulgate at the expense of the "imperial" tradition, with the argument being that Ptolemy, Aristobulus, Callisthenes, Nearchus, etc., were all out to exalt Alexander and themselves at the expense of the truth. For some reason, he believes that military aggressors place a great reliance on propaganda.
(3) His analysis tends to consistently find a hard rational base for almost any action of Alexander's, such as the burning of Susa, Thebes, etc. Looking for that is useful--witness my description of Thebes. He also DID remove a great deal of gloss that people such as Niehbuhr and Wilcken have applied to Alexander's political murders and mass butcheries.
(4) Conversely, Alexander was not Hitler, no matter how much some of his actions might (necessarily) resemble the other would-be world conqueror. The ultimate barometer is the truth.
8. Not that the Germans have been left in sole custody of Alexander. Enter the British:
a) William Woodthorpe Tarn wrote an immensely influential book on Alexander which he published in 1948--volume 1 is Tarn's historical narrative, volume 2 is the notes. Copies are still around.
(1) Tarn was a "gentleman" of independent means. He used to come into Oxford once ever so often to do his research before returning back to his estate and his voluminous writings.
(2) He had trained as a lawyer, and had been one of the early organizers of the League of Nations, which he watched disintegrate into the chaos of WWII.
(3) He saw Alexander as a man who wanted to unite the world, "not in bonds of slavery, but of love," and that world unity was the only way these horrible wars could be prevented-- cf. the UN.
(4) Alexander would be the man who introduced the ideals of cosmopolitanism and monotheism into the Western world.
(5) This idealist as a scholar played very hard ball--he made personal attacks on his opponents (Morrison), ignored or dismissed data that did not agree with his theories. The theory was more important than the truth.
b) Nicholas (N.G.L) Hammond made it to Colonel in the British Army, and during WWII used his acquaintance with matters Greek as a liason with the Greek underground.
(1) Incredibly well-informed about warfare and the mechanics thereof. He destroyed Donald Engels' _The Logistics of the Macedonian Army_, which based its analysis on the mechanics of supplying Alexander's army by donkey. Hammond proved they used wagons.
(2) Hammond, having served under and among genuine titans, has maintained that Alexander does deserve special consideration on a level above Badian's prosecutions. You can call him more sober Tarn.
c) Griffith has worked with Hammond on an excellent _History of Macedonia_,
(1) He's a bit more equivocal, but logical in asserting that not everybody can be correct in these wildly-disparate views of Alexander.
(2) His argument was that the best thing was to stick as closely to the ancient sources as possible.
d) Peter Green was a journalist himself, which not only describes his feelings for Cleitarchus, and his view of Alexander, but his writing style. Everything concerning Alexander and the Hellenistic Age are evil, weak, and vile. I can't stand him.
e) Robin Lane Fox is a celebrated Atheist, but that didn't stop him from writing what has been called "the last great gasp of the Alexander romance" perhaps intentionally a response to Green. His scholarship is not impressive, his reasoning poor.
f) Graham hasn't yet published much on Al--figures that other people have said as much as is really important.
B. The Yanks have had a glove in it!
1. Moses Hadas held Tarn's beliefs, only moreso. MAYBE a function of Alexander's good reputation in Judaic tradition (Mose was a religious jew). And maybe not.
2. Our most celebrated writer was C. A. Robinson, also a great Hellenistic Historian, author _The Meeting of East and West and Unity and Brotherhood_.
a) Robinson fused Niehbuhr's theory (from Diodorus's reference to plans found after Alexander died aimed at conquering the West) with Tarn's "cosmopolitanism" and the experience of being an American directly after WWII.
b) Alexander WAS an idealist, Robinson reasoned, but his way of uniting the world under stable rulership was uniting it at sarissa-point under him.
c) It's worth noting that Tarn rejected Robinson's theory as too militaristic. That tells you a fair amount about Tarn!
d) You can watch Borza in his notes drifting along with the current flow in Alexander scholarship--well away from Tarn and Nieburhr, great influence by Badian and _fin de siecle_ cynicism, but Alexander's accomplishments are still holding people's attention.
e) And what do _I_, the Newest Generation have to say about Alexander? That's a fair question (and you need to know)
(1) Morally, I try and tend to have an intellectual Christian's view--religious standards, rationally applied.
(a) Consequently, as you've heard, I consider Alexander responsible for the destruction of Thebes, and for the murder of his friend Cleitus in a brawl
(b) I can UNDERSTAND the reason for the purge of Amyntas IV, Attalus, even Thebes, but I don't have to like them
(c) I acknowledge that Alexander, as conquerors go, was better than people like the Assyrians and Tamerlane, who celebrated conquests by flaying conquered kings alive and with piles of severed heads.
(2) In strictly rational terms, what you're officially supposed to get, I consider Alexander an incredibly brilliant pragmatist.
(a) You don't conquer the (Greek version of) the world by being a drunken, swaggering, tyrant
(b) Badian has been good at stripping away the veneer over Alexander's deeds, but he's been putting on a layer of acid and making Alexander's actions the product of the worst of all possible motivations. I prefer to judge the deed by the result: Thebes, Siwa, even the Proskyneisis.
(c) Alexander can, should be, and will be faulted for
(i) Failing to leave an heir,
(ii) Risking his life and the survival of his army on glory-hunting personal combat and nonsense such as the Gedrosian desert (or have I missed something? Leadership, trade routes, etc.)
(iii) His path to glory was paved with human blood. I don't like aggressive warfare, and consider it wasteful.
(iv) His program of conquering the Persian Empire worked in the short-term and led to disaster on the long-term. Maybe he could have made it last. I doubt it.
II. Alexander's Anabasis, as Arrian put it:
A. Pragmatist: No troubles in the Rear left unsolved
1. Triballoi--cavemen, barbarians on WRONG side of the river (Romans) vs. Alexander's _pothos_, longing to go boldly. . .
a) Fleet from Byzantium--In league of Corinth or independent ally?
b) Leaves from Amphipolis in 335, runs into Thracians with wagon/fort assault.
c) Triballian king Syrmos on island in Danube which fleet could not storm.
d) Crosses river on floats, conquers Getae on other side, Triballoi surrender
2. Gauls (Greek Galatiai) ask for alliance, in eastern Adriatic. "Sky falls, earth opens, sea rise."
a) Same form used by Irish Gaels within historical record
b) Al: Braggarts!
c) Gauls invade Greece and Asia!
End as of 3/21/95