This series of 24 lectures examines a crucial period in the history of the ancient world, the age ushered in by the extraordinary conquests of Alexander the Great. In all the annals of the ancient world, few stories are more gripping than those from this era.
In the opening lectures, you'll explore the enigma of Alexander, son of a brilliant father, yet always at odds with the man whom he succeeded. You'll trace his early campaigns against the Persians and follow him to Egypt, where he was acclaimed as the son of god. You'll then look at his career after this and find in him a blend of greatness and madness as he strove to replace the Persian empire of the Achaemenid dynasty with a new, mixed ruling class of Macedonians and Persians.
From there, you'll delve into the catastrophic period after Alexander's death in 323 B.C., which ushered in a period of catastrophic change as ambitious warlords carved up Alexander's realm into their own separate empires. You'll learn about each of the three kingdoms that resulted: Ptolemaic Egypt, Seleucid Syria, and the Attalid Empire in Asia Minor. Just as important to these lectures are the in-depth discussions of the bounties of Hellenistic culture, which contributed landmark ideas in everything from philosophy (which became more academic), art and architecture (with its excessive, naked emotions), and religion (especially the growing popularity of cult movements). Taken all together, these lectures are an engrossing and riveting journey into ancient history-and the life and times of the man who left an indelible mark on everything that would come after.
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Good Overview of Alexander and Hellenistic Empires
This book is a good overview of the rise and conquests of Alexander the Great, his Macedonian Empire, and the Hellenistic empires that took over his conquests after his death. The lectures go from Alexander's rise to the fall of the final Hellenistic kingdom with the conquest of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt by the Romans. The lecturer covers the major kingdoms of the Seleucids in Syria, the Ptolemies in Egypt, and Antigonids in Greece as well as some of the smaller Hellenistic kingdoms to rise during this age. He follows a relatively chronological pattern.
One strength of this professor is his ability to cover not just the political history but also other parts of culture, including social, intellectual, and artistic changes. The only thing that prevents me from giving this series a five star rating is this author's thoroughness. I like listening to history books that leave me feeling like I have had a comprehensive overview on a topic (within reason) and also knowing that the author covered any major well-known sub-topics that deserve attention. Having listened to this lecturer a few times, I know he has a tendency to skip over content in his effort to focus in on specifics or controversies. So for anyone coming to the topic for the first time, there are probably important things he will skip over or not mention. I felt this way particularly in his section on Alexander the Great. There were so many well known events and stories that he skipped or barely talked about, which left me disappointed. So if you are buying this book to learn mainly about Alexander, look elsewhere.
Overall I would recommend this series to anyone interested in the topic. I believe you will learn something and enjoy it!
Excellent Survey of Alexander and his Age
The professor did an excellent job presenting both a historical narrative and thematic content. He takes you through the history in a way that give a great feeling on how it evolved, and returns to provide ways to understand why things happened as they did (and he is not afraid to say when we don't know).
His style is engaging. The pace of presentation is excellent. There is just enough fun put into the descriptions that it is never dry.