Mark Antony’s Last Throw
- BuyThe Age of Titans: The Rise and Fall of the Great Hellenistic Navies by William Murray
Oxford, 356 pp, £30.00, January 2012, ISBN 978 0 19 538864 0
Hellenistic history is exceedingly hard to write, a kaleidoscope of great kings and petty warlords, huge armies fighting pointless wars. The period is badly documented, too often dependent on a stultifying first-century BC cut-and-paste job by Diodorus the Sicilian. Knowledge advances incrementally: a new reading here, an unpublished coin there, scattered archaeological finds here, there and everywhere. Most interesting is the clever detective work that brings together the new and the long familiar to solve the formerly insoluble, or to correct an implausible solution once accepted faute de mieux. There are many such puzzles and it is always a pleasure when another mystery is unravelled.