Anabasis Alexandri

Anabasis Alexandri

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Anabasis Alexandri the Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian
Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon , known in English as Arrian , and Arrian of Nicomedia, was a Roman historian, public servant, a military commander and a philosopher of the 2nd-century Roman period...

, is the most important source on Alexander the Great.

The Greek term anabasis referred to an expedition from a coastline into the interior of a country. The term katabasis referred to a trip from the interior to the coast. So a more literal translation would be The Expedition of Alexander.

This work on Alexander is one of the few surviving complete accounts of the Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ian conqueror's expedition. Arrian was able to use sources which are now lost, such as the contemporary works by Callisthenes
Callisthenes of Olynthus was a Greek historian. He was the son of Hero and Proxenus of Atarneus, which made him the great nephew of Aristotle by his sister Arimneste. They first met when Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great...

 (the nephew of Alexander's tutor Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

), Onesicritus
Onesicritus , a Greek historical writer, who accompanied Alexander on his campaigns in Asia. He claimed to have been the commander of Alexander's fleet but was actually only a helmsman; Arrian and Nearchus often criticize him for this. When he returned home, he wrote a history of Alexander's...

, Nearchus
Nearchus was one of the officers, a navarch, in the army of Alexander the Great. His celebrated voyage from India to Susa after Alexander's expedition in India is preserved in Arrian's account, the Indica....

, and Aristobulus
Judah Aristobulus I , the first ruler of the Hebrew Hasmonean Dynasty to call himself "king," was the eldest of the five sons of John Hyrcanus, the previous leader. Josephus would declare him the first Jew in 481 years to “wear the diadem on his head”...

, and the slightly later work of Cleitarchus
Cleitarchus or Clitarchus , one of the historians of Alexander the Great, son of the historian Dinon of Colophon, was possibly a native of Egypt, or at least spent a considerable time at the court of Ptolemy Lagus.Quintilian Cleitarchus or Clitarchus , one of the historians of Alexander the Great,...

. Most important of all, Arrian had the biography of Alexander by Ptolemy, one of Alexander's leading generals and possibly his half-brother.

It is primarily a military history; it has little to say about Alexander's personal life, his role in Greek politics or the reasons why the campaign against Persia was launched in the first place.

Further reading

  • Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander, translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt, Penguin Classics, 1958 and numerous subsequent editions.
  • Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander, translated by P.A. Brunt, with Greek and English text, edited by Jeffrey Henderson, The Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press. Books I-IV: ISBN 0-674-99260-1 Books V-VII and Indica: ISBN 0-674-99297-0

External links

  • Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, translated by E.J. Chinnock (1893)
  • Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, (section 1.13-16) (pdf, pp. 18-19), Battle of Granicus, from the Loeb
    Loeb Classical Library
    The Loeb Classical Library is a series of books, today published by Harvard University Press, which presents important works of ancient Greek and Latin Literature in a way designed to make the text accessible to the broadest possible audience, by presenting the original Greek or Latin text on each...

  • Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, (section 4.18.4-19.6), Sogdian Rock
    Sogdian Rock
    Sogdian Rock or Rock of Ariamazes, a fortress located north of Bactria in Sogdiana , was captured by the forces of Alexander the Great in 327 BC as part of his conquest of the Achaemenid Empire.-Background:...

    , translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt