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Alexander the Great and Ancient Greek Warfare

Kallithrix
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Postby Kallithrix » Sat October 2nd, 2010, 10:40 pm

"Eigon" wrote:Wow! You do Ancient Greek re-enactment, Kallithrix?
I was most impressed, a few years ago, by an Ancient Greek group doing drill - in Greek - at a multi-period show at the Royal Kent Showground.


Hey, that was us! Well, I've only been doing it since 2009 so if it was before that I wouldn't have been there. Still, most of the guys in it now are veterans who've been doing it for years. My off-season task this winter is to review the Greek drill commands and draft an arena 'script' for the narration. That's on top of making armour and painting tents. You should come to the Kent event next year - our static display is even better than ever now we've got about 6 or 7 tents, and we have more numbers for the arena display - we stage a battle with real arrow fire now!

"Eigon" wrote:And I've just been reading The Nature of Alexander by Mary Renault. I read, and loved, her fiction trilogy when I was a teenager (and I remember worrying that my gran might read something rude over my shoulder when I was in the middle of The Persian Boy). This is the non-fiction distillation of all that research. I find it fascinating that we can actually know the names of officers in Alexander's army and what their units were doing in a particular battle.


Yes, there's a lot more information about 4th century Greece than 5th, which is the period we re-enact. I'm an Athens supporter, so I'm more interested in the century when she was top dog in Greece - it depresses me what Philip and Alexander did to her :-(

I just finished Last of the Wine and it was fantastic! Definitely recommend it to everyone.
Last edited by Kallithrix on Sat October 2nd, 2010, 10:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Eigon
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Postby Eigon » Sun October 3rd, 2010, 6:31 pm

Mary Renault seemed to place much of the blame on Demosthenes, who seemed to be a devious so-and-so.
Difficult for me to get to Kent from the Welsh Borders, sadly, especially with an arthritic dog to think about, but I'd like to see your group again.
"There were no full time Vikings back then. Everybody had another job."
Neil Gaiman, from Odd and the Frost Giants.

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Margaret
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Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
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Postby Margaret » Sat July 14th, 2012, 1:28 am

A fellow student from my old college recently got in touch and offered to put together a list of the best group of novels to read for the sweep of ancient Greek history. Needless to say, I took him up on the offer! David Maclaine has put together a list of 35 novels, which we'll be posting soon (yes, Mary Renault appears numerous times; also Christian Cameron and Steven Pressfield more than once). Meanwhile, there are four reviews up so far, with another 31 to come. Posted are:

The Iliad by Homer (see review)

The Ten Thousand by Michael Curtis Ford (see review)

Tyrant by Valerio Massimo Manfredi (see review) - not to be confused with Christian Cameron's Tyrant - this one's about Dionysius of Syracuse, and despite a few scenes that verge on the cringe-worthy, David says this one is much better than Manfredi's earlier novels.

The Arrows of Hercules by L. Sprague de Camp (see review) - a not-moldy oldie from 1965.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings and over 650 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Sat September 1st, 2012, 5:15 am

All 35 of the novels on David Maclaine's list of the "35 Best Novels for a Survey of Ancient Greek History" now have reviews onsite, with links from the main list. My hat is off to David - this is the largest batch of new reviews to go up in a period of less than two months. Some of these are classics, like Mary Renault's novels The King Must Die, The Last of the Wine, and her Alexander novels. Some are recent, like several novels on the list by Steven Pressfield and Christian Cameron. Others are more obscure, like The Fox, a novel by the mysterious author M.N.J. Butler who was evidently born in Nairobi, seems to have self-published this well-researched novel about ancient Sparta, and then vanished into obscurity. Taken all together, the novels should give a reader a good sense of the sweep of ancient Greek history - a foundation of the modern Western world and of Western thought, but very different from it in many ways.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings and over 650 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sat September 1st, 2012, 7:02 pm

This series is a great addition to your website, Margaret. I've enjoyed them and it was interesting to discover that over the years I've read most of them. The mysterious Butler's Fox was one I'd never heard of at all before, but I thought it certainly warranted its place on the list when I tracked down a copy to read.

I put this list up on another forum and most agreed it was spot-on, though one or two pointed out that books written from a female POV were MIA - unfortunately, as history is recorded around political and military events from which women were usually excluded, this is often the case.

I note David mentions that no one has written about Pyrrhus of Epirus, but as we discovered from an HFF member not long ago, an Australian author, Ian Crouch, has a series underway featuring Pyrrhus. I have a copy of Vol 1, The Shaping of Destiny, but haven't raed it yet. The book was a winner at the 2011 Independent Publishers' Awards.

They may not qualify as "best of" material, but as well as Renault and Cameron, I recommend Harry Turteltaub's Hellenic Traders series for an entertaining look at the Wars of the Successors era following Alexander's death, and we also get to meet the charming Demetrius who later fruitlessly besieged Rhodes in Duggan's Besieger of Cities
Last edited by annis on Sat September 1st, 2012, 10:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Postby Margaret » Sun September 2nd, 2012, 3:32 am

What a find, Annis! I'll pass the news about Ian Crouch's novel on to David. He is deep in the world of Ancient Rome right now - which could be a 50-book "best of" series.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings and over 650 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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Shield-of-Dardania
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Postby Shield-of-Dardania » Mon September 3rd, 2012, 12:19 pm

"Kallithrix" wrote:Hey Annis, your observation about Cameron's portrayal of the Scythians is really interesting, and you're probably right about it freeing up his creativity to let the story flow better. In some ways the little we actually know about the Scythians is a blessing and a curse, because by interpreting the scant evidence we do have and extrapolating it to likely conclusions we can never be completely 'wrong', but on the other hand we will never know if we are right either.

Maybe if one lets go of the burden of having to always be entirely, absolutely right, then one can redirect one's energies, which would otherwise have been that way expended, into building a better, more pleasurable, more absorbing story, like Cameron does.

I read Tyrant: Storm of Arrows and I thought I enjoyed it enormously. I just read the blurb when I saw it on the shelf, stole a quick browse through, and picked it up.
Last edited by Shield-of-Dardania on Mon September 3rd, 2012, 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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parthianbow
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Postby parthianbow » Mon September 10th, 2012, 7:19 pm

@Annis: I was very interested by your mention of Crouch's book, A Pyrrhic Victory. I was about to buy the book via Kindle but spotting the 'download a sample' button, I did that for the first time. I'm glad I did, because I won't be buying the book.
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Mon September 10th, 2012, 7:35 pm

@Ben: I have to agree. After I remembered it, I thought I'd better drag it out of the TBR pile and have a look. I was disappointed to find the writing amateurish and uninspired. How did this win an award? A pity, because as David Maclaine says, Pyrrhus deserves a good story.

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parthianbow
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Postby parthianbow » Mon September 10th, 2012, 7:45 pm

@Annis: It made me question the validity of that award too.
Ben Kane

Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.

Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.



http://www.benkane.net

Twitter: @benkaneauthor


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