Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

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Taphoi
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Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Taphoi »

Dear Pothosians,

In 2005 I first mooted the possibility of reconstructing Cleitarchus’ lost account of Alexander’s campaigns from the surviving secondary sources in a post on this Forum. It therefore seems appropriate to let you know that the first part of my reconstruction has just been published as “Alexander the Great in India” and is now becoming available through Internet bookshops (Amazon etc). This book contains a reconstruction (in English) of the three books of Cleitarchus (Books 10 to 12) which recounted Alexander’s adventures in the sub-continent between June of 327BC and June of 324BC. It also contains a long discussion of the evidence and the key problems regarding Cleitarchus, including new theories on his date of publication and the organisation and structure of his work.

There is a page dedicated to the new book on my website at http://www.alexanderstomb.com/main/clei ... index.html including a sample chapter as a downloadable pdf, which contains my reconstruction of Book 12 of Cleitarchus (but note that the references for the reconstruction are given in a Table in a separate chapter, so as not to overburden the text with too many footnotes). Clearly, it is not possible to produce a 100% accurate reconstruction and the quality of the evidence varies from sentence to sentence. Therefore I have used a range of different types of text (e.g. italic, normal, bold italic, bold, underlined bold) to indicate the degree of confidence in the reconstruction at each point.

I would be happy to reply to any questions that anyone might have about this project.

Best wishes,

Andrew

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Fiona
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Fiona »

Congratulations on your new book! What a project you undertook there. This is something I would like to understand more about, so I'll definitely be ordering this. Amazon uk is not finding it yet, but I will keep checking.
Thank you for telling us about it, and I hope you get lots of readers.
Cheers,
Fiona
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Taphoi »

Hi Fiona,

Many thanks!

If you search Amazon UK on
Andrew Chugg
then you will see the new book listed. Amazon UK does not have it in stock yet, but they will soon. Their marketplace sellers already have it: Book Depository is fast and usually as cheap as anywhere.

Best wishes,

Andrew
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by athenas owl »

Look forward to it.

I knew you were working on this, glad to see it out.

Will be picking it up.

Oh, btw, I caught your segments on that Search for the Tomb of Alexander the Great. I forget the exact title right now, but I enjoyed your parts. I wish they had mentioned your idea for St.Marks. But it was nice to see you by the walls. It helped visualise it when i reread the book.
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Paralus »

Welcome back after 15 months... and with a new book!
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Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Taphoi »

I'm afraid I've been a bit busy getting the book finished and with the documentary that Athena's Owl mentions, so I've had to curtail other activities.

The documentary on Alexander's Lost Tomb was part of the Secrets of Egypt series, so they were not very interested to expand it in the direction of Venice. I was pleased with the way they presented my theory of the Alexandrian tomb. I thought that the computer graphics were quite effective.

Best wishes,

Andrew
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Tantalus »

It's good to hear from you Andrew!

Congratulations on the book. I really look forward to reading it. In fact I just placed my order at Amazon.com.

I just read Ch. 5, Book 12. The book must have taken a lot of work. But I bet it was fun to do also.

I really like how you used the various text formats to indicate the weight of evidence. I quickly adjusted to it without having to look at the key.

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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Fiona »

Taphoi wrote:If you search Amazon UK on
Andrew Chugg
then you will see the new book listed. Amazon UK does not have it in stock yet, but they will soon. Their marketplace sellers already have it: Book Depository is fast and usually as cheap as anywhere.

Best wishes,

Andrew
Ah, thanks - found it now, and ordered a copy. :)
Fiona
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Taphoi »

Hi Tantalus,

Glad you liked the textual gradations: I think it's possible to ignore them or pay attention to them according to the nature of your interest in a given passage.

It was very interesting to attempt the reconstruction. I felt that I learnt a lot from the process. I probably have more respect for Cleitarchus as a writer than I did when I started. You are right that it was painstaking work in some parts.

Happy reading to you and Fiona!

Best wishes,

Andrew
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by abm »

Congratulations on the publication of your new book. To be honest, I doubt the usefulness of such a reconstruction, given the nature of the evidence (excellently discussed by Bosworth at http://www.dur.ac.uk/Classics/histos/1997/bosworth.html), but you must have learned a lot along the way, so I really look forward to reading the chapter on the basis for the reconstruction.
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Taphoi »

Hi ABM,

I would say that the usefulness is similar to the reconstruction of an ancient shattered vase: the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

C. Bradford Welles, the translator of Diodorus 17, has written:
In spite of the objections of Tarn, I regard it as certain that whatever source Diodorus used, it was the same as that employed by Curtius. Schwartz assembled a formidable list of parallels between the two writers, without exhausting the subject. It is adequate to prove the point. To reconstruct this source would be a useful task.
(Of course he means Cleitarchus.)

I have referenced Bosworth's Histos Review in Alexander the Great in India. Bosworth himself has written elsewhere:
Cleitarchus, then, is elusive. Is he also irretrievable? My feeling is that it is possible to reconstruct something of his work, but the exercise of doing so is particularly arduous.
However, you may well find the long introductory article, "A Basis for the Reconstruction", to be the most interesting part. I aim to please a wide range of audiences with an interest in Alexander. :)

Best wishes,

Andrew
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by abm »

Taphoi wrote:I would say that the usefulness is similar to the reconstruction of an ancient shattered vase
If it was indeed similar to this, it would be useful to attempt such a reconstruction. Unfortunately it is rather like reconstructing an ancient shattered vase on the basis of a description of the few remaining shards, without having seen them yourselves, and knowing that the description is at least incomplete, possibly even wholly inadequate. Furthermore, you seem to have only very few potsherds to work with. Out of 9603 words in the sample chapter, only 192 are marked as certain, if I have counted correctly. That is about 2%, while archaeologists nowadays do not reconstruct ancient buildings unless they have about 95% of the original material. For vases, there might be parallels you can compare to your reconstruction, as most vases probably were not unique. Moreover, quite a few reconstructed vases I have seen were only partially reconstructed because of lacking parts, while you seem to aim at a complete reconstruction of Cleitarchus’ work.

Both the named fragments and the parallel passages in Curtius and Diodorus, are reworkings by the quoting authors. That is why I mentioned Bosworth’s review, as I wonder what you would do with such passages as the accession of Abdalonymos he has analyzed there. You have two versions, both going back to Cleitarchus, with completely different interpretations. The common facts will have been in Cleitarchus, but there is no reason to assume that he even noted the turn of fortune stressed in his own words by Diodorus, nor that he had a dialogue on virtuous poverty such as we find in Curtius. Of course, it is interesting to inquire what episodes Cleitarchus included in his work, but the we can only gain partial knowledge, because if Cleitarchus wrote 13 books, his work was more than ten times as long as Diodorus’ treatment of Alexander and significantly longer than Curtius’ as well. Thus, we cannot even make a list of all topics he dealt with, and, equally importantly, there is no way of knowing what he omitted. Furthermore, we almost never know how he interpreted the events he narrated.

Diodorus is not such a secure guide as traditional Quellenforscher would want him to be. Like I said, he cut down Cleitarchus’ work to about 10% of the original length, which means that he must have seriously summarized everything, and he rewrote it in his own words (which nowadays even those who stick to the traditional view admit). In doing so, he often changed the emphasis, or imposed a completely new interpretation. For the battle descriptions even Stylianou admits that they are Diodorus’ own work, and the works of people like Neubert, Pavan, Palm, and Camacho Rojo (or Bosworth in the above mentioned review) have shown that such remoddeling is not limited to the battles. Consequently, if you want to reconstruct Cleitarchus, much more work has to be done Diodorus and Curtius (and the narrative of the latter cannot be compared to non-Alexander material by him). The situation is somewhat similar to the source problem for Diodorus XVIII-XX, where scholars assume that we can somehow reconstruct Hieronymus’ work from Diodorus narrative, but many problems this entails have hardly been studied nor even pointed out in some cases.

If Bosworth and Welles mean an actual reconstruction, I strongly disagree with their view, but I doubt that that is what they mean. Note, moreover, that Bosworth says “My feeling is that it is possible to reconstruct something of his work” (my italics).

Of course, I mentioned Bosworth’s review not for you, but for those who might not know it, as is usually the aim of a reference.

Best wishes,
Alexander
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Taphoi »

Hi Alexander,

You raise many intelligent points. I can only offer brief responses here.
abm wrote:You seem to have only very few potsherds to work with. Out of 9603 words in the sample chapter, only 192 are marked as certain, if I have counted correctly. That is about 2%…
The words that you mention are the fragments of Cleitarchus. They are by no means “certain”, but are merely those passages that were attributed to Cleitarchus by ancient writers. Those writers could have misattributed them or they could mean a different Cleitarchus, but of course they are from our Cleitarchus with a high degree of probability. In fact, all the words in bold type in my reconstruction are Cleitarchan in their substance with a reasonably high probability and they constitute about half of the reconstruction overall. Where any of the Metz Epitome, Curtius and Diodorus agree in detail, it is very likely that their common source was Cleitarchus and that the substance of the version they give comes from Cleitarchus. However, there is no such thing as certainty: all knowledge is probabilistic in the real world. The same is true for the vase reconstructor: he might have to sort the fragments of several similar pots interspersed in the same tomb. Some pieces may be missing and others badly abraded. He may need to fill gaps in his reconstruction and complete the decoration across the gaps in some way (e.g. cross-hatching) so that it can be distinguished from the more directly represented parts of the design. Nevertheless, he achieves much, even when the starting material is poor quality. The proof is to be found in every museum. It is just as well that he didn’t believe the people who said it was too difficult or not worth the effort!
abm wrote:I wonder what you would do with such passages as the accession of Abdalonymos?
The very reason that Prandi and Bosworth discuss the case of Abdalonymus is that it presents a special local difficulty for reconstruction of the Cleitarchan version. Ostensibly, Cleitarchus mistakenly made Abdalonymus king of Tyre and Diodorus followed him, whilst Curtius and Trogus used a more correct source in placing events at Sidon. However, Curtius 4.1.26 mentions that an area surrounding Sidon was added to Abalonymus’ dominions. Perhaps Cleitarchus mentioned that he was given control of Tyre after its fall and that was what prompted Diodorus to tell the story of his appointment in the context of the fall of Tyre. Perhaps Diodorus correctly referred the story of his appointment back to Sidon in 17.47, having noted his appointment as king of Tyre in 17.46.6. If so, given the way that Diodorus presents the matter, an ancient editor of Diodorus would obviously have assumed that the mentions of Sidon were an error for Tyre and incorrectly corrected them in the manuscript. I am currently toying with this as a logical way of explaining the matter through an understandable rather than a crass error, which also allows that Diodorus, Curtius and Trogus were all following Cleitarchus. Can you see any cardinal objections? (Philotas was made garrison commander in Tyre according to Curtius 4.5.9, but I don’t think this excludes Abdalonymus as its king.)
abm wrote:Diodorus is not such a secure guide as traditional Quellenforscher would want him to be.
I agree that Diodorus 17 is a heavily epitomised version of Cleitarchus (though 10% is a worst case and 15% is more likely). I also agree that he did not repeat the language of Cleitarchus exactly (though the fragments and other evidence show that he did adopt Cleitarchus’ phraseology in some places). Since also much of the rest of the evidence is in Latin sources, reconstruction of Cleitarchus’ precise language is generally impossible. Therefore my reconstruction aims for the substance and structure of his History of Alexander, rather than the precise language, and so it is in English.
abm wrote:If you want to reconstruct Cleitarchus, much more work has to be done on Diodorus and Curtius.
I would respond that it is impossible properly to know what more work needs to be done to improve the reconstruction without first having attempted the reconstruction. Most of the learning is in the process (as I thought you correctly hinted in your first post to this thread.)
abm wrote:Scholars assume that we can somehow reconstruct Hieronymus’ work from Diodorus narrative, but many problems this entails have hardly been studied nor even pointed out in some cases.
I agree that Hieronymus is far more difficult to retrieve than Cleitarchus, because we do not have multiple parallel texts based on him (nevertheless, the view that Diodorus 18-20 is largely an epitome of Hieronymus has considerable merit: it’s just difficult to get much further than that point.) It is the fact that Diodorus, Curtius and the Metz Epitome clearly share Cleitarchus as their principal source that renders the substance of Cleitarchus retrievable to a significant degree.

Best wishes,

Andrew
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Paralus »

abm wrote:For vases, there might be parallels you can compare to your reconstruction, as most vases probably were not unique. Moreover, quite a few reconstructed vases I have seen were only partially reconstructed because of lacking parts, while you seem to aim at a complete reconstruction of Cleitarchus’ work.
And that goes without mentioning that vases (and amphorae etc) were generally constructed to general types and patterns: once several types are identified fragments fitting those types can be thus be identified with them.

That writers can be so identified is an entirely different matter.
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Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Taphoi »

Paralus wrote:vases (and amphorae etc) were generally constructed to general types and patterns: once several types are identified fragments fitting those types can be thus be identified with them.
That writers can be so identified is an entirely different matter.
But writers do have characteristic styles just as vases have characteristic types. Some Pothosians may be able to guess who wrote this passage from the style, even though there are no dead giveaways:
That morning they lit a fire in a deep hollow shrouded by great bushes of holly, and their supper-breakfast was merrier than it had been since they set out. They did not hurry to bed afterwards, for they expected to have all the night to sleep in, and they did not mean to go on again until the evening of the next day.
Cleitarchus exhibited many stylistic characteristics, which can be used to recognise passages sourced from his text. One small example would be that he particularly and repeatedly referred to Alexander as "invincible" (invictus in Latin or aniketos in Greek). The Athenian orator Hypereides also called Alexander aniketos, which shows that it reflects contemporaneous practice, but Cleitarchus made a habit of it.

Best wishes,

Andrew
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