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Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great's Empire
     

Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great's Empire

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by Robin Waterfield
 

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Alexander the Great conquered an enormous empire—stretching from Greece to the Indian subcontinent—and his death triggered forty bloody years of world-changing events. These were years filled with high adventure, intrigue, passion, assassinations, dynastic marriages, treachery, shifting alliances, and mass slaughter on battlefield after battlefield. And

Overview

Alexander the Great conquered an enormous empire—stretching from Greece to the Indian subcontinent—and his death triggered forty bloody years of world-changing events. These were years filled with high adventure, intrigue, passion, assassinations, dynastic marriages, treachery, shifting alliances, and mass slaughter on battlefield after battlefield. And while the men fought on the field, the women, such as Alexander's mother Olympias, schemed from their palaces and pavilions.

Dividing the Spoils serves up a fast-paced narrative that captures this turbulent time as it revives the memory of the Successors of Alexander and their great contest for his empire. The Successors, Robin Waterfield shows, were no mere plunderers. Indeed, Alexander left things in great disarray at the time of his death, with no guaranteed succession, no administration in place suitable for such a large realm, and huge untamed areas both bordering and within his empire. It was the Successors—battle-tested companions of Alexander such as Ptolemy, Perdiccas, Seleucus, and Antigonus the One-Eyed—who consolidated Alexander's gains. Their competing ambitions, however, eventually led to the break-up of the empire. To tell their story in full, Waterfield draws upon a wide range of historical materials, providing the first account that makes complete sense of this highly complex period.

Astonishingly, this period of brutal, cynical warfare was also characterized by brilliant cultural achievements, especially in the fields of philosophy, literature, and art. A new world emerged from the dust and haze of battle, and, in addition to chronicling political and military events, Waterfield provides ample discussion of the amazing cultural flowering of the early Hellenistic Age.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Well-paced and often dramatic...up-to-date research and thorough documentation...well-placed interludes summarizing Hellenistic developments in social life, literature, art, economics, philosophy and religion." —The Wall Street Journal

"A well-researched book that offers a wealth of information about the period between Alexander the Great and the coming Roman Empire." —HistoryNet

"Mass battlefield slaughter, treachery, assassinations, intrigues—ancient Greek politics as usual? Not quite: for this is the Age of the Wars of the Succession to Alexander the Great, on the cusp between eastern and western civilization and the Greek and Roman worlds, and also an epoch of unusual creativity especially in the fields of philosophy, literature, and the visual arts. Dr. Robin Waterfield's coruscating cultural-political narrative does full and equal justice to all the major dimensions of this extraordinary half-century." —Paul Cartledge, AG Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, Cambridge University, and the author of Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past

"Waterfield efficiently traces the endlessly shifting military and marital alliances among the great successor families. His spare account manages to serve both as a military and as a cultural history of a great age of transition. Recommended for anybody interested in the classical era." —Library Journal

"A superb examination of a critical but often neglected period of ancient history." —Booklist

"Politics, warfare, and culture are brilliantly captured in this fascinating account, fully supported by maps, genealogies, and mini-bios of key players, together with black-and-white plates, bibliography, and index. An essential Who's Who for any student of this remarkable transformational period." —ForeWord

"This history pays careful attention to the broad scholarship extant...is readable and engaging, and introduces well these people highly influential to Hellenistic Greek life. I absolutely recommend it to anyone interested in this time period..." —San Francisco Book Review

"[C]larifies and gives modern relevance to an era often overlooked in the classical historical record." —Army History

Library Journal
Biographies of Alexander the Great (e.g., those by Philip Freeman) abound, but what happened after the death of the world conqueror in 323 B.C.E.? Classicist Waterfield (Why Socrates Died) narrates 40 years of war over who would rule next among the Macedonian's companions. Meanwhile, across the far-flung empire from Egypt to Afghanistan, the vying warlords were spreading a new Hellenistic culture, which Waterfield sees as a Romantic successor to ancient Greek classicism. From the people they conquered, the new rulers absorbed an absolute, Eastern model of kingship that remained the standard for centuries. Nearly limitless treasuries funded the decades of war among Alexander's "successors"—most prominently Ptolemy in Egypt, Seleucus in Babylonia, Antipater in Macedonia, and Antigonus (everywhere). In the end, a few large monarchies remained where there had briefly been one empire. Then the Romans absorbed the whole region, which became the Greek east, the legacy of Alexander. VERDICT Waterfield efficiently traces the endlessly shifting military and marital alliances among the great successor families. His spare account manages to serve both as a military and as a cultural history of a great age of transition. Recommended for anybody interested in the classical era.—Stewart Desmond, New York

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199931521
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
11/01/2012
Series:
Ancient Warfare and Civilization Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
715,890
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 3.30(d)

Meet the Author

Robin Waterfield is an independent scholar and translator. In addition to translating numerous Greek classics, he is the author of Why Socrates Died: Dispelling the Myths, Xenophon's Retreat: Greece, Persia, and the End of the Golden Age, and Athens: A History, From Ancient Ideal to Modern City. He lives in the far south of Greece on a small olive farm.

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