The Age of Alexander (Penguin Classics)
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Plutarch's influential writings on the ancient world
Plutarch's parallel biographies of the great men in Greek and Roman history are cornerstones of European literature, drawn on by countless writers since the Renaissance. This selection provides intimate glimpses into the lives of these men, revealing why the mild Artaxerxes forced the killer of his usurping brother to undergo the horrific "death of two boats"; why the noble Dion repeatedly risked his life for the ungrateful mobs of Syracuse; why Demosthenes delivered a funeral oration for the soldiers he had deserted in battle; and why Alexander self-destructed after conquering half the world.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
for her, seized her and condemned her to death. By Persian custom poisoners are put to death in the following way: they place the head on a certain flat stone and then strike and crush it with another stone until the head and face are beaten to a pulp. So Gigis died in this way. But Artaxerxes took no action either in word or in deed against Parysatis. He merely sent her away, at her own request, to Babylon, declaring that as long as he lived he would never set eyes on that city. Such, then, was
Great Syrtis: The bay of Benghazi. 61. guest-friend: (Greek, xenos) A person in a foreign city with whom one has formed a bond of ritualized friendship, which brought with it obligations of hospitality, loyalty and support. These obligations would be passed to one’s heirs. 62. acropolis … wall: The acropolis was on Ortygia, a virtual island connected to the rest of Syracuse by a narrow causeway, which could easily be walled off. 63. barbarians: The Greek term barbaros originally meant
presents as the fiercer fighter and more noble figure and from whom Alexander’s family claimed ancestry. Alexander certainly cultivated a connection between himself and Achilles (see, e.g., ch. 5), and Plutarch introduces other parallels as well as stressing Alexander’s love for Homer (chs. 8, 26, 63, 72). The comparison is in Alexander’s favour, and suggests his bravery and martial prowess, his semi-divine status and his Greekness. 53. Darius’ generals had gathered a large army: Arrian,
action, at least, Dionysius fell short of the tolerance shown by his father. For the elder Dionysius had, so it seems, made an enemy of Polyxenus, the husband of his sister Theste. Polyxenus feared for his life, escaped from Sicily and fled into exile, whereupon Dionysius sent for his sister and reproached her because she had known of her husband’s plan to escape but had told her brother nothing about it. Theste was quite undismayed and answered him confidently, ‘Do you think, Dionysius, that I
forward and urged the people to stand by the Thebans. Then, in his usual manner, he put heart into his compatriots and inspired them with fresh hopes, and he was sent off with others as an ambassador to Thebes. At the same time Philip, as we learn from Marsyas the historian, sent Amyntas and Clearchus of Macedonia, Daochus of Thessaly and Thrasydaeus to oppose the Athenians and put the case for Macedon. For their part, the Thebans could see clearly enough where their interests lay, but each of