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James Romm - editor
Pamela Mensch - translator


Pantheon Books, NY. 2010, 503 pgs., copious maps, diagrams of the major battles, chronology, elaborate annotations, encyclopedic index, 19 informative appendices, annotated sources, and extensive bibliography. The editor, James Romm, provides important information and Paul Cartledge provides an informative introduction.


Reviewer comment:

This is a marvelous book - the essential book now for the study of Alexander's campaigns. It is a complete new translation of Arrian's study of Alexander the Great's campaigns published with all the elaborate supporting material characteristic of these new "Landmark" editions. It joins the similar volumes of the works of Xenophon, Herodotus and Thycydides. Every place name in Arrian's text is shown on multiple maps keyed by a footnote to the text and included near the related text. In addition there are excellent general maps at the back of the volume. Every time an individual's name appears in the text there is a footnote identification. The appendices are written by experts and deal with many specific issues that expand the reader's knowledge of their subjects: such as, Arrian's sources, Ethnicity, Geographic notions, Macedonian army, Individual campaigns, Persian empire, and the like. Reference to these maps alone will be a great assistance to the reader of any other books on Alexander.


Introduction - by Paul Cartledge.

This is a discussion of Arrian's literary methods, and his sources. It also includes an extensive discussion of 'cultural identity in the Anabasis' - that is where the Macedonians Greeks or not? - and several other tangential issues.


Editors' preface -

Professor Romm describes the special aspects of the Landmark series - the extensive maps and battle diagrams, the extensive footnotes and explainations. Professor Strassler discusses the Landmark methods in more detail. There follows an excellent chronological outline which gives the reader the ability quickly to match chapters and sections in Arrian's work with locations of the action and seasons of years.


In the following summary of Arrian's descriptions of Alexander's campaigns I have listed the battles, sieges and skirmishes. I count roughly 31 significant battles, 25 city sieges, and 21 skirmishes or minor battles. So many modern books on Alexander's campaigns only describe the four major battles and perhaps siege of Tyre. Arrian describes many of these smaller battles and sieges in great detail. He generally lays out the order of battle by naming units and often the commanders but not often the size of the unit. One disconcerting issue is that he will describe a battle making it sound like a really bloody affair, and then write that there were hardly any casulaties. And his estimates for the size of Persian forces in each battle are generally now considered much to large. Alexander has a very flexible army composed of many types of units and he uses them with great tactical skill. But Arrian also devotes many paragraphs to discussion of Alexander's personnel policies, command and control methods, religious observances, morale-building measures and much more. Alexander's constant attention to governing his expanding territories through despatch of 'satraps' is remarkable, as he continues his campaign eastward to India he is continually receiving dispatches and envoys from many western regions and is making and deposing his local governors in remote places. Also not mentioned in most modern accounts is the continual turnover of the fighting troops as veterans are returned home and new contingents arrive. However, as usual, the logistics measures, which must have been enormous, are only mentioned in passing. Arrian only mentions the war that took place in Greece as the Spartan king, Agis III, attempted to overthrow Macedonian hegemony. Arrian includes extensive digressions to describe geographical understanding, commenting on the views or many other authors. He does not spare Alexander from criticism in his repeated evaluations of Alexander's conduct. But this is a military book about a military campaign, not a biography of Alexander.


Book One - 336 - 333 BC. The opening campaign

Arrian mentions that he will rely mostly on the histories written by Ptolemy and Aristoboulos. He justifies his own presumption to undertake a new history of these momenteous events.
On the death of his father, Philip, Alexander immediately seeks and obtains the agreement of Greek cities except for Sparta that he lead an expedition against Persia. He first campaigns in Thrace to secure the rear area.
Battle at Haemus.
Battle against Triballoi
Attempted forced river crossing of Danube
Successful crossing and battle with Getae, destruction of their town
Battle with Illyrians
Siege of Pelion
Another battle with Illyrians
Sucessful river crossing and battle
Night attack on Illyrians - Taulantians
Siege, capture and destruction of Thebes
Crossing the Hellespont
Battle at Granicus River
Sardis and Ephesus surrender
Capture of Miletus after brief siege
Naval battle at Miletus - Lade
Alexander disbands fleet
Capture of towns between Miletus and Halicarnassus
Begins lengthy siege of Halicarnassus - takes town but not citadel
Marches from Caria to Phrygia
Captures Hyparna, Telmessos, Pinara, Xanthos Patara + more
Attacks Sillyon
Captures Aspendos Attacks Termessos guards but bypasses town
Battle by and capture of Sagalassos in Pisidae Captures fortress at Kelainai
Arrives at Gordion


Book Two -333 - 332 BC. The campaign continues into Phoenicia

Meanwhile, Memnon, admiral of Persian navy captures Chios, Lesbos and besieges Mytilene, but dies and is replaced by Autophradaates and Pharnabazos, they capture Mytilene They continue naval war to Cyclades, Tenados
Antipatros sends Proteas to attack Persians at Siphnos
Alexander leaves Gordion and marches to Ancyri, then through Cappadocia and through Cilician Gates back to the coast
Battle through Cilician Gates He captures Anchiale and Soloi
He defeates Cilicians in mountains. Reports that Ptolemy and Asandros defeated Orontobates and captured the Halicarnassus citadel and other towns. Alexander reaches Myriandros on coast south of Issus, Darius crosses Amanic Gates and is north of Issus

Battle near Issus
Pharnabazos and Autophradates again sail from Chios to Halicarnassus and then to Siphnos
Agis, King of Sparta meets them and requests aid against other Greeks
Persian defeat at Issus disorients Agis and Persians who go to Chios and Halicarnassus
Alexander receives surrender of some Phoenician cities including Marathos, Sidon and Byblos
Tyrians refuse Alexander entrance, he begins siege to gain control of Phoenician fleets.
More Phoencian and Cyprian fleets join Alexander
Siege and capture of Gaza


Book Three - 332 - 329 BC - Alexander in Egypt and campaign into Bactria

Alexander marches to Egypt
Alexander visits shrine of Ammon
Revolt in Peloponnese, Alexander sends large Macedonian, Phoenician and Cyprian fleets to quell.
Alexander marches to Thapsacus and crosses the Euphrates when Persian garrison flees.
He continues to cross the Tigris - Lunar eclipse on Sep. 20, 311 B.C.
Battle of Gaugamela - 75 miles from Arbela Alexander takes Babylon and Susa
He fights the Ouxioi
He fights Ariobarzanes for the Persian gates. He reaches Persepolis and Pasargadae
He marches north into Media at Ecbatana and attacks the Paraetacae
Alexander pursues Darius who is assassinated
Alexander sends Krateros against the Tapurians
Alexander subdues the Mardians
He goes to Zadrakarta and then Parthia and Sousia
He marches east toward Bactra, but diverts to the south to deal with Satibarzanes of Areia - Artakoana (possibly modern Herat)
Alexander continues south to conquer Zarangiane (possible Kandahar area) He obtains submission of the Zarangians, Gedrosians and all of Arachosia (the area between Kandahar and Kabul)
The Areians again revolted so Alexander sent Artabazos with detachment of troops back north to subdue them again.
He marched north east along the mountain ranges and halted for winter. Then he founded Alexandria in Caucasus (which is really near modern Kabul).
Alexander in May crosses the Hindu Kush from south to north (possibly via Khaiwak pass) into Bactria. Alexander captures Drapsaka, (modern Kunduz) Aornos and Bactra.
He crosses the Oxus (Amu Darya) using stuffed animal skins. He releases the remaining Thessalian cavalry some of whome with others may have aready established the beginnings of Ai Khanum
He sends Ptolemy with cavalry to capture Bessos. Bessos is sent in chains to Hamadan
Alexander reaches Markanda, capital of Sogdiana.
He storms a mountain fastness to where barbarians have retreated


Book Four - 329 - 326 BC - Alexander in Central Asia

He founds Alexandria Eschate near Tanais river - actually the Iaxartes - Syr Daria - in modern Tajikistan
Spitamenes leads the Sogdianians revolt and kills Macedonians and fortify city (Gaza) which Alexander besieges while Krateros besieges Cyropolis - in all 7 cities are captured.
Spitamenes is now besieging the Macedonian garrison in Markanda citadel so Alexander sends relief
A Scythian army arrives at the Tanais so Alexander uses artillery to cover another river crossing sending his archers and slingers over first to establish the bridgehead.
Spitamenes escapes from Markanda and then leads a Scythian ambush of following Macedonians.
Alexander leads a new offensive against Spitamenes who fled into the desert. Alexander receives 23,000 reinforcements from Macedonia - Greece.
Alexander returns to Zariaspa.
Alexander again campaigns to the Oxus, crossed it into Sogdiana, dividing the army into 5 columns to attack all the local towns to Markanda.
Meanwhile Spitamenes takes Scythian - Massagetai cavalry around Alexander into Bactria and captures a fortress, then reaches Zariaspa where they defeat a sally by the Macedonian garrison.
Krateros then attacks the Massagetai who retreat into the desert where Krateros defeats them.
Spitamenes is still waging gurrilia warfare and attacks another Macedonian garrison commanded by Koinos, who defeats him again. At this defeat the Massagetai retreat once more, but decapitate Spitamenes.
Alexander collects the detachments and remains in Nautaka (central Sogdiana) over the winter.
In early spring Alexander marches against the Sogdian 'Rock' being held by Oxyartes leading another revolt.
Alexander conducts a major siege of Sogdian Rock.
Alexander then campaigns into Pareitakene and besieges Khorienes who is holding another 'rock ' mountain fortress. Winter weather is still hampering the Macedonian army during these sieges.
Alexander returns to Bactra while he sends various units to subdue the rest of Pareitakene.
At end of spring Alexander begins campaign into India. crossing the Salang Pass.
He reorganizes the administration of the region around Alexandria in Caucasus (Kabul). He now has Saca, Baktrian and Scythian cavalry.
He divides the army and crosses into northern India (actually modern Pakistan) via two passes reaching the upper Indus River. Hephaistion sieges and captures Peukelaotis.
Alexander attacks other towns and mountain fortresses.
After crossing the mountains Alexander reaches Arigaion only to find it already destroyed by its inhabitants.
Alexander defeats more Indians holding hill top positions.
Alexander crosses the Gourian river and attacks the Assakanians starting with the Massaka city, fighting first outside the city walls, then using siege engines against the wall.
Bazira and Ora were then besieged and taken.
Alexander next besieges the locals holding a "Aornos Rock - (Pir Sar) a mountain near the headwaters of the Indus.
Finally Alexander reaches the Indus.


Book Five - 326 BC. - Alexander into India (Pakistan)

Alexander crossed into the territory between the Kophen and Indus rivers and attacked Nysa city, but relented after appeals. (Actually the Kophen is a tributary of the Indus). Alexander reached Taxila and was welcomed by a new ally, Ambhi, who joins him with 5,000 Indian troops
Alexander defeats Poros in battle at Hydaspes (Jhelum) River, then retains him as ruler of the area. Poros then provides large Indian contingents and elephants to augment Alexander's army.
Alexander detaches troops to quell an uprising back in Assakania.
He continues to advance into India crossing the Hydraotes (Chenab) River.
He attacks the Kathaioi at Sangala, which he then destroys. He crosses the Ravi River
Alexander sends Eumenes to attack two more cities.
He reaches the Beas River. At this point the army refuses to go further - Arrian records the speechs in great detail.
Alexander returns westward to the Chenab River and repairs Nikai and Boukephala cities. He receives 35,000 reinforcements.


Book Six - 326 - 324 BC - Alexander continues in India and returns to Babylon

Alexander sails down the Chenab and Jhelum to the Indus and then to the Indian Ocean - part of the army is on boats and parts march on either side of the river. He conducts raids to subdue local inhabitants.
He crosses desert to attack the Malloi tribe in several unnamed cities, besieging one after another. These are located along the middle course of the Indus and its tributaries, the Hyphasis, Hydatus, Akesinos and Hydaspes.
In one Malloi city (possibly Multan) he crosses the wall and is very seriously wounded, only saved by his bodyguards.
Alexander receives surrender of King Mousikanos, but then attacks King Oxikanos (two cities near the lower Indus).
He then marches west into the hill country to capture Sindimana.
Mousikanos then revolts and Alexander returns to storm his cities.
Alexander divides the army, sending a large part with Krateros via an inland route through Zarangiane (Afghanistan) to Babylon.
He then continues down the Indus, captures Patala and reaches the ocean.
He appoints Nearkhos admiral to sail along the coast from the Indus back to Mesopotamia.
He leads a part of the army through Gedrosia desert.
When he reaches Carmania (the region adjacent to the Strait of Hormuz) he is rejoined by Krateros and Nearkhos plus many of his satraps from throughout Persia and Afghanistan as far as the Caspian Sea.
He then appoints Hephaistion to lead the majority of the army back along the coast while he travels inland to Pasargadae.


Book Seven - 324 - 323 BC - Alexander in Persia and Babylon

Alexander reaches Pasargadae and Persepolis.
This book is about Alexander's activities until his death.


Epilogue -

Professor Romn briefly describes the struggle that ensued between Alexander's various generals and others which resulted in the dismemberment of his brief empire into the several Hellenistic kingdoms. This era is not included in Arrian's book, but is described by Diodorus. The several main contenders made use of the massive funds released from the Persian silver and gold horde to finance spectacular expansion and development of military capabilities mostly squandered in warfare against each other.


Appendix A - Arrian's sources -

Professor Elizabeth Baynham briefly evaluates Arrian's use of Ptolemy, Aristoboulos and other lesser authors. She discusses the varied opinions of current scholars about Arrian's work and his use of available sources.


Appendix B - Alexander - Greeks and Macedonians

Professsor Eugene Borza provides a discussion focused on the current contention (of Greeks and Macedonians) about whether or not the ancient Macedonians were actually Greeks or not. He writes that they were not.


Appendix C - Alexander the man (and god)

Professor Richard Stoneman evaluates the possibility that Alexander actually came to believe himself a 'god' and considers it likely. He makes considerable use of Plutarch's views. While many of Alexander's contemporaries were willing to consider him a 'god' due to his extraordinary success - and good luck - many others, especially his fellow Macedonians were not. Stoneman notes that Arrian was rather defensive in his comments as many of his sources had been disdainful of this assumed position. That plus the 'heavy drinking' and high living had served as fertile opportunities for Alexander's political opponents and moralists in general to attack him. Stoneman notes that a Macedonian king was actually 'first among equals' which created annimosity even among his generals.


Appendix D - Alexander's Army and Military Leadership

Professor Romn rates Alexander highly in his leadership ability, but notes that this was waning during the final year. And by that time the men had become more difficult to manage. Professor Romn notes Alexander's extraordinary skill in organizing logistics. However, Alexander inherited a superior army from his father. Professor Romn describes this army in some detail. The editors insert in this appendix a valuable diagram keyed to the order of battle for Gaugamela battle. Professor Romn notes that Alexander, like most ancient generals, led from the front and rode into battle with his Campanion cavalry. But what is striking about Alexander's conduct, especially in this battle, is his tactical control even during the battle at least up to the critical point at which he chose to lead the crucial attack. We read in Arrian how Alexander, stationed with his striking arm was able to orchestrate tactical shifts and counter measures designed not only to maximize the results achieved by the several different types of units in his command, but also to do what we would call today 'reflexive control' that is get Darius and Bessos to make moves that Alexander desired.


Appendix E - Alexander's Inner Circle

- Professors Romn and Heckel discuss the personalities and characteristics of Alexander's senior command. They note that Alexander inherited a generation of very experienced generals from his father's army and that these men were frequently at odds with Alexander over tactical decisions, but even more so over his broad political and cultural program. All of theme but Antipatros, who remained in Macedon to defend the home front, died before Alexander did.


Appendix F - Money and Finance in the Campaigns of Alexander

Professor Frank Holt in three pages describes what we know and can know about this fascinating and crucial subject. That is - not much. We know that initially Alexander started the campaign in great financial difficulty - that he managed to keep things going for the first year from confiscated funds at Sardis and then tribute levied along the way - and then obtained probably the greatest wealth of any single conqueror when he siezed the Persian treasury. We know of the thousands of coins subsequently minted for Alexander. But we do not know much at all about the mechanics of day to day funding and payment either to the troops or to suppliers.


Appendices G through R -

Each is a very valuable discussion on a specific topic that provides significant information about such interesting issues as Alexander's relation to or activities in Persia, Central Asia and India. Other topics are the "Alexander Romance" his geographical beliefs, his death and the Macedonian royal tombs.


Ancient Sources -

An annotated list of 35 ancient authors whose works are mentioned in the footnotes or other explainations provided by the present authors and editors.


A huge bibliography, very extensive notes and more maps.


Maps and illustrations

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