Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

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Tantalus
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Tantalus » Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:27 pm

Taphoi wrote: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.
LOL, I haven't read Tolkien for 20 years and I got it right away!
There is rest and healing in the contemplation of antiquities. - Mark Twain

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Taphoi
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Taphoi » Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:11 am

Hi Tantalus,

Got it in one (and within 11 minutes of my post, apparently, which is very impressive :!: )

Tolkien's style is so clear that even two rather bland sentences suffice to identify him.

It's increasingly clear to me that Cleitarchus' style was just as distinctive: in fact, several Greek and Roman writers commented on his rhetoric and minute descriptions. What has been more of a surprise to me during the reconstruction process is the accumulating weight of evidence that Curtius the rhetorician is very often simply rendering Cleitarchus' rhetoric into Latin without much modification. There are frequent anachronisms: e.g. Curtius was probably Proconsul of Roman Africa in the mid-first century AD, yet he seemingly wrote that the rhinoceros was unknown anywhere but India! However, Martial mentioned the African rhinoceros and it appears on a quadrans of Domitian. Furthermore, the sentiment of Curtius' prose is highly characteristic of the cynical philosophers of the early Hellenistic period with whom Cleitarchus was strongly associated.

It is true that Diodorus often grossly curtailed Cleitarchus' rhetoric, but Curtius frequently seems to preserve it.

Best wishes,

Andrew

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Paralus
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Paralus » Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:30 pm

Taphoi wrote:What has been more of a surprise to me during the reconstruction process is the accumulating weight of evidence that Curtius the rhetorician is very often simply rendering Cleitarchus' rhetoric into Latin without much modification.
So, Curtius the "slavish copier"? Best tell Stylianou of this, he's of the opinion that was Diodorus.
Taphoi wrote: Furthermore, the sentiment of Curtius' prose is highly characteristic of the cynical philosophers of the early Hellenistic period with whom Cleitarchus was strongly associated.
That would be philosophers who held an entirely selfish or sarcastic view of the world? Perhaps you meant the Cynic school: believers in virtue, self control and the like?
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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 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:24 pm

Paralus wrote:So, Curtius the "slavish copier"?
Not a slavish copier, but an admiring translator, though he sometimes doubted Cleitarchus' veracity. This was not unusual among the Romans at that time: Cicero wrote that Sisenna wished to imitate Cleitarchus as an historian.
Paralus wrote:Perhaps you meant the Cynic school: believers in virtue, self control and the like?
Perhaps, capitalisation of Cynical would have been clearer, but the OED defines "cynic" to mean "Of, characteristic of, the Cynic philosophers". Not sure where you get the idea that the Cynics weren't cynical :o

Best wishes,

Andrew

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Fiona
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Fiona » Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:25 pm

My copy has come now and I am enjoying this very much so far. I'm up to page 20. It's a bit above my head, but I'm hanging on in there. I have a question - well, a few actually - who is Jacoby, and how did he find his fragments? Is it a generally accepted thing that the fragments are all from Cleitarchus?
What's FrGrH?
Thanks in advance,
Fiona

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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Taphoi » Fri Apr 17, 2009 11:05 pm

Hi Fiona,

It's great that you got the book and are enjoying it!

FrGrH is fairly common shorthand for "Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker" (The Fragments of the Greek Historians) compiled by F. Jacoby. The fragments of the ancient Greek historians of Alexander are in Part II B, pp. 618-828 (Berlin, 1929). Actually, the original collection of the fragments of the Alexander historians was compiled by Karl Muller and published as an addendum to the Didot edition of Arrian in Paris in 1846. Jacoby simply completed and sometimes modified Muller. In fact, the history of Alexander histories is almost as complicated as the history of Alexander himself :!:

The fragments fall into several classes. Firstly there are the Testimonies, which provide information about Cleitarchus himself. Secondly, there are the Fragments proper, and these are divided into fragments with a book number, other relatively reliable fragments and finally doubtful fragments. Fragments are essentially defined as ancient Greek or Latin texts where the immediate author states that Cleitarchus wrote the material in the fragment. In most cases it is very clear that it is the famous author of the History of Alexander that they are referring to.

It would be fair to say that my long essay on the basis for the reconstruction in Chapter 2 sometimes gets a bit abstruse, because it has to deal with some very complicated issues. Some people may find it more interesting to read the reconstruction itself in Chapters 3 to 5 first, then come back to Chapter 2 to find out as much as they want about how it was formulated.

Best wishes,

Andrew

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Fiona
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Fiona » Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:33 am

Thank you, Andrew, this is great. It's extremely kind of you to take the time to explain these basics to a beginner! These extra pieces of information are just what I needed.
I see what you mean about complicated - it's amazing how many different texts you have had to remember about, and not just the ancient ones. You have to know what everybody else has said about these things. I'm very, very impressed.
I get the impression of a very long-lasting scholarship, so dedicated, where each of you is building on what went before. It looks as if German scholars have done a great deal of work in setting foundations that modern scholars can build upon, and I bet Jacoby would have been so proud of you for tackling the reconstruction.
I have found the diagram on page 63, and that's really helpful - I keep referring forward to it as I'm reading, and beginning to get it into my head now who all the sources are, and how they relate to each other. Some I've heard of before, like Herodotus, some I've seen referred to in this forum, like Hieronymus, and wondered about them, and others I've never even heard of. like Ephippus. It's great to have these sources brought together in one place like this.
But oh, how much we've lost! Seeing the extant sources just the bottom row in your diagram, below all those lost works, that's so sad. But great credit to you for attempting to bring one of them back to life for us.
Fiona

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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Taphoi » Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:07 am

Hi Fiona,

Many thanks for your generous comments.

The diagram on page 63 is really just a summary: I have tried to show which primary sources (authors who wrote from direct experience of the events) have been most important in establishing the several traditions of Alexander historiography that have come down to us. One thing to note is the number and size of arrows both entering and leaving the Cleitarchus box: by that criterion at least you can see that he has been more influential than anyone else.

In fact there are, sad to say, many other Hellenistic histories of Alexander that are lost to us. Jacoby cites fragments from a total of about fifty Greek authors who wrote histories more or less dedicated to Alexander in the two or three centuries following his death, none of whose works survive. Most of them do not even appear to have had much influence on our surviving traditions about Alexander. The Jacoby fragments of the lost historians of Alexander have been published in English translation by C A Robinson, "The History of Alexander the Great: Volume 1 - A Translation of the Extant Fragments", Providence, 1953 (very important to go for Volume 1, since Volume 2 is something else). Robinson Vol 1 was also republished by Ares Publishers in 1996.

Best wishes,

Andrew

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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by marcus » Tue Apr 28, 2009 8:08 pm

Hi Andrew,

My copy has now arrived. I haven't had a chance to peruse it properly yet, but looks interesting. I'm looking forward to having some time to read it properly.

Congrats.

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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Theseus » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:18 pm

Yes! Another great book from you Andrew. I have found your books to be such a nice read. I will definately be heading over to Amazon to get this one!

You are living my dream Andrew as I have always wanted to write a book about Alexander. I actually had thought of writing a book on Alexander's son with Roxanne and found it difficult to find enough information about him to fill a book. I fear it would be more fiction than fact though. I had also thought of writing a book about Hephaestian and there is a bit more information about him. It is a hard task to sort through what we feel is accurate and what is myth.

I look forward to reading your newest book and thank you for letting us know.

Take care.
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Taphoi » Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:51 pm

Many thanks to Marcus and Theseus for their encouraging comments. It is great to have such dedicated enthusiasts for writings about Alexander on this site.

Best wishes,

Andrew

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Fiona
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Re: Cleitarchus Reconstruction: Alexander in India

Post by Fiona » Fri May 22, 2009 12:08 am

I have finished reading this today, and I enjoyed it so much, I thought I'd write a review.
Here it is:

This book is by no means only for the expert or the professional historian. Anyone who is interested in Alexander and familiar with the basic story will find much to enjoy. The introductory chapters are full of fascinating information about how the reconstruction was attempted, and I for one learned a great deal about many lost sources and also about the work of scholars of previous generations.
There are tables of evidence, and a very useful timeline chart, showing how the lost sources and the extant ones interconnect, but most interesting to me was the way Cleitarchus himself came through, with his background, his own aims, and his style.
The reconstruction itself was a totally absorbing read. The clever use of different font styles to indicate the level of certainty is very useful and is not at all off-putting when reading. The sheer coherence of the reconstructed chapters was very striking. It read like the work of one writer, it never seemed like it was patched together. Best of all was the way it shed new light and new perspectives on familiar scenes. Alexander at Mazaga, the battle against Porus, Alexander leaping down alone into the city of the Oxydracae, Ptolemy’s near-fatal encounter with a poisoned arrow, the passage of Kedrosia, and the celebrations in Carmania: these were just some among many scenes where the words I was reading brought new and interesting pictures into my mind. It was like reading a freshly-discovered source, and I warmly recommend it.
Fiona

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