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Adrienne Mayor: Carthage, 24 June 2010

Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Mediterranean Civilisation 
by Richard Miles.
Allen Lane, 520 pp., £30, March 2010, 978 0 7139 9793 4
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... to Carthage’s destruction, were Flaubert’s chief sources, but he also relied on Herodotus, Xenophon, Cornelius Nepos and Procopius. For geography and fortifications, he turned to Appian and Diodorus of Sicily, and to Aelian for military tactics. He mined Pliny, Theophrastus and others for Carthaginian magical lore and religion. Athenaeus provided the ...

One Kidnapping Away

Tim Whitmarsh: ‘How to Manage Your Slaves’, 3 December 2015

How to Manage Your Slaves 
by Marcus Sidonius Falx, with Jerry Toner.
Profile, 224 pp., £8.99, May 2015, 978 1 78125 251 2
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... and Romans were fond of ‘how to’ manuals, and household management was a favourite topic from Xenophon onwards. Simon Swain of Warwick University recently reconstructed one such text, Bryson’s Management of the Estate, from Arabic and other sources (it was published too late for Toner to take it into account).* Bryson, who wrote in Greek in the first ...

Versailles with Panthers

James Davidson: A tribute to the Persians, 10 July 2003

From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire 
by Pierre Briant, translated by Peter Daniels.
Eisenbrauns, 1196 pp., $79.50, January 2002, 1 57506 031 0
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Ancient Persia from 550 BC to 650 AD: reissue 
by Josef Wiesehöfer, translated by Azizeh Azodi.
Tauris, 332 pp., £35, April 2001, 1 85043 999 0
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... the feast: ‘And they continued to dance and enjoy themselves until they learned the news.’ Xenophon’s account in his novelistic biography of Cyrus is similar, feast and all, but much more detailed. Before the army invades, Cyrus gives his troops a pep talk. He knows that those invading a city are often terrified that the people will ‘go up onto the ...

Bonkers about Boys

James Davidson: Alexander the Great, 1 November 2001

Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction 
edited by A.B. Bosworth and E.J. Baynham.
Oxford, 370 pp., £35, September 2000, 0 19 815287 6
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... with the death of Alexander was now finally at an end. Suddenly, everyone was writing like Xenophon again, or Julius Caesar. Consequently, apart from the citations by literary critics and a remarkable late inscription erected by the ruler of Commagene at Nemrut Dagh in Turkey, which makes even Hegesias seem pedestrian, next to nothing of this singular ...

Among the Barbarians

James Romm: The Other, 15 December 2011

Rethinking the Other in Antiquity 
by Erich Gruen.
Princeton, 415 pp., £27.95, January 2011, 978 0 691 14852 6
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... The texts Gruen investigates are, for the most part, the product of those contests: Aeschylus and Xenophon fought the Persians before writing about them, as Julius Caesar did the Gauls, and Tacitus’ contemporaries the Jews and Germans. In contrast to the modern mythic imagination, which tends to depict contests for world domination as Manichean battles ...

Apollo’s Ethylene

Peter Green: Delphi, 3 July 2014

Delphi: A History of the Centre of the Ancient World 
by Michael Scott.
Princeton, 422 pp., £19.95, February 2014, 978 0 691 15081 9
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... their opinions (not unlike some oracular pronouncements) in a kind of open-minded ambiguity. As Xenophon has Socrates point out, there was always a percentage of human or natural events that lay beyond the current reach of rational intelligence: plague, drought or the outcome of a war. Such things were seen as falling within the province of the gods, and ...

The First Emperor

Jonathan Spence, 2 December 1993

Records of the Grand Historian: Qin Dynasty 
by Sima Qian, edited and translated by Burton Watson.
Columbia, 221 pp., $50, June 1993, 0 231 08166 9
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... if not exactly into household parlance, at least into the domain of those who enjoy Thucydides, Xenophon or Herodotus. Burton Watson’s Qin Dynasty poses its greatest challenge to the reader in its opening chapter, ‘The Basic Annals of Qin’: the unknown names come thick and fast, and the action is tersely described and often opaque in motivation to ...

The Talk of Turkey

Stephen O’Shea: Should Turkey be worried?, 28 November 2002

... Armenia dashed by the new Turkish nationalism. Leaders intent on murderous mischief – Alexander, Xenophon, Xerxes and their successors – had always seemed to pass this way, perhaps contributing to the reputation of Mus among Turks as a backwater best left undisturbed. A famous Ottoman song has sorrowful soldiers trudging up the ‘steep road’ to Mus, and ...

Image Problems

Peter Green: Pericles of Athens, 6 November 2014

Pericles of Athens 
by Vincent Azoulay, translated by Janet Lloyd.
Princeton, 291 pp., £24.95, July 2014, 978 0 691 15459 6
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... such as it is, has been in plain view all along: Herodotus, Thucydides, Old Comedy, Protagoras, Xenophon, Plato, Plutarch’s biography and of course the remains (above all on the Acropolis) of the great civic building programme. This suggests that any interpretative changes are due more to the varying assumptions of a succession of observers than to any ...

Dying to Make a Point

Shadi Bartsch: Death and the Ancients, 15 November 2007

Death in Ancient Rome 
by Catharine Edwards.
Yale, 287 pp., £25, June 2007, 978 0 300 11208 5
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The Death of Socrates: Hero, Villain, Chatterbox, Saint 
by Emily Wilson.
Profile, 247 pp., £15.99, August 2007, 978 1 86197 762 5
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... in the Phaedo, in which Socrates presents his views on the immortality of the soul. Both Plato and Xenophon suggest that Socrates’ acceptance of death was the logical outcome of his thinking. But even this leaves room for confusion, since Socrates’ famous claim in the Apology is that he will obey ‘the god’ at all times over his fellow citizens, whereas ...

Tall and Tanned and Young and Lovely

James Davidson: The naked body in Ancient Greece, 18 June 1998

Art, Desire and the Body in Ancient Greece 
by Andrew Stewart.
Cambridge, 272 pp., £45, April 1997, 0 521 45064 0
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... sheer force of physical impressiveness, producing shock, panic, terror even, was axiomatic. Xenophon recalls Socrates advising him to take to his heels at the sight of a beautiful man: ‘Don’t you realise that this beast they call “young and handsome” is more terrible than a scorpion?’ If such texts are to be believed the streets of Athens must ...

‘Screw you, I’m going home’

Ian Hacking, 22 June 2000

Conquest of Abundance: A Tale of Abstraction Versus the Richness of Being 
by Paul Feyerabend, edited by Bert Terpstra.
Chicago, 285 pp., £19, February 2000, 0 226 24533 0
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... story has the merit here of being a new move. The subsequent ramble through early philosophy, Xenophon, Parmenides and so on, traverses terrain that in this context is more familiar. Always Feyerabend casts the events as a battle of abstraction against abundance, with abstraction taking the laurels every time. The Greeks are defined by a list of ...

Against Michelangelo

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Pinecone’, 11 October 2012

The Pinecone 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 332 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 571 26950 1
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... be able to construe the Greek testament … at sight … read any easy prose Greek author, as Xenophon, Lucian, Herodotus and also Homer … then all the usual common Latin schoolbooks … to read at sight Virgil, Horace, Caesar’s Commentaries … you should be able to write pretty correctly Latin prose – and a Greek play or two should be added. It ...

Swish! Swish! Swish!

Patrick Leigh Fermor: The Mani Olive Harvest, 29 July 2021

... or a squabble between two Thracian archers over a plate of beans, and all would be different. Xenophon had the life-giving gift; so did Makriyannis. These old Maniots idling the morning away with me under the hot leaves had it to a supreme degree. The bell round its neck clanked every time the donkey moved to a new patch of stubble, while we were marching ...

Things Keep Happening

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Histories of Histories, 20 November 2008

A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the 20th Century 
by John Burrow.
Allen Lane, 553 pp., £25, December 2007, 978 0 7139 9337 0
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What Was History? The Art of History in Early Modern Europe 
by Anthony Grafton.
Cambridge, 319 pp., £13.99, March 2007, 978 0 521 69714 9
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The Theft of History 
by Jack Goody.
Cambridge, 342 pp., £14.99, January 2007, 978 0 521 69105 5
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Thucydides and the Philosophical Origins of History 
by Darien Shanske.
Cambridge, 268 pp., £54, January 2007, 978 0 521 86411 4
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... begins, was conversing with Homer; Thucydides was responding rather less generously to Herodotus; Xenophon was continuing Thucydides; and so it went on. After the Roman historians of Alexander, Burrow proceeds to Rome itself, to Polybius, Sallust, Livy and Plutarch; to Appian and Cassius Dio on the civil war; to Tacitus and the self-serving Josephus, sensibly ...

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