From the Bookshelves

Incisive Books on Alexander

Macedonia From Philip II to the Roam Conquest, General Editor Rene Ginogves: since the end of last century, archaeological excavations had been concentrated mainly in southern Greece, with well-known results, whereas until 1912 Macedonia had remained under the occupation of Turks, who were not overly concerned with the development of archaeology.  Ancient Macedonia was fundamentally a Greek land, populated by individuals speaking a variety of Greek, and living since very early times in contact with the centres of civilization of southern Greece, even though other influences and special conditions kept in existence ways of living that the rest of Greece was progressively abandoning.  This book look at Greek history from the point of view of Macedonia and sets out the events and the creations of the fourth, third and second centuries BC.  In 360 B.C. when Phillip II was proclaimed king of Macedonia, his country was considered barbarian by the Athenians and by many others, and had just endured a half-century of convulsions and defeats.  Thirty-three years later, on the death of Alexander, Macedonia had conquered the greatest empire the West had ever known.  The author explores if this was a kind of ‘Macedonian miracle’?

Alexander the Great: The Invisible Enemy by John Maxwell D’ Brien: differs from other biographies of Alexander in its assessment of the role of alcohol in his life.  Despite Alexander’s unprecedented accomplishments, during the last seven years of his life this indomitable warrior became increasingly unpredictable, sporadically violent, megalomania cal, and suspicious of friends as well as enemies.  What could have caused such a lamentable transformation in this remarkable man?  This biography seeks to answer that question by assessing the role of alcohol in Alexander the Great’s life.  Alexander is treated from birth to death as a total personality.  His culture, his gods, his parents, his aspirations, his exploits, his fears, his insecurities, his sexuality, his drinking and the psychology of alcoholism are examined from an interdisciplinary  perspective.  The book utilizes recent discoveries in archaeology and incorporated new interpretations from anthropology, psychology, mythology, philosophy and literature.  The historical context provides a structure for these diverse insights.  Alexander is said to have slept with a copy of Homker’s Iliad under his pillow.  He emulated its hero, Achilles, from boyhood.  The young kind also demonstrated a particular interest in Greek drama, and especially in the plays of Euripides.  He quoted form that tragedian’s Bacchae extemporaneously.  The book contains such interesting personal details on Alexander.



Alexander the Great by R.D. Milns: It is said that there are as many Alexanders as there are historians of Alexander.  So varied had been the interpretation on him.  This book is intended, not for the classical scholar, but for the general reader interested in learning something of one of the greatest men the human race has produced.  This book is not aimed at the classical scholar or the professional Ancient Historian, but for the non-academic who finds the study of history and its great men a source of entertainment, interest and perhaps instruction.  It revolves around Alexander, his court and his army.  References to the history of the period are minimal.



The Nature of Alexander by Mary Renault: is a hard hitting, controversial biography of Alexander.  Quoting authentic sources, it challenges the ideological interpreters of Alexander, past and present.  The text is supported by carefully chosen illustrations, many of them specially commissioned, reproducing contemporary art, documents or reconstructions of events, and modern photographs of the territories Alexander covered in his travels.  The aim of Mary Renault’s study has been to peel off from this complex and dynamic human being the accumulated layers of wishful thinking, both idealizing and ideological and show him not in our term but his: as he saw himself, and was seen by his friends, his enemies, the men he led and the peoples he conquered.  Besides the statements of those who knew him in life, of which many fragments have been preserved, she has studied the folk memory, which can be neither enforced nor bought handed down in the lands he ruled.  She describes his youth spent between embattled parents, themselves sprung from royal houses under constant threat from usurpation and war; the ideals and ambitions urged on him by his teacher Aristotle; and the reactions he produced in those around him when his status was insecure and he had no means of rewarding loyalty.  From a study of the medical evidence she has suggested important possibilities about Alexander’s death, and that of his lifelong friend Hephaestion.

Conquest and Empire by A.B. Bosworth: is “an unromaticised” account of the reign of Alexander, based on ancient sources.  It has careful accounts of the battles and campaigns.  The book goes into the details of the process by which the empire was acquired and the means by which it was controlled, exploited and administered.  According to the author, in 1976,  books on Alexander were appearing at the rate of more than one a year and the pace was kept though the 80s.  Hence, this is not a biography but Alexander in the wider sense – of the implications of Alexander and his conquests.



Alexander the Great – Power As Destiny by Peter Bamm: the author raises and answers some key questions regarding Alexander – did he aim at a world conquest?  Or being worshipped as God?  Was his policy of fusing the Greeks and Oriental cultures a great contribution to civilization or a betrayal of Hellenism?  The book includes 256 illustrations, 16 in colour.  It traces Alexander’s life from his childhood, when he was given to believe that he was born to perform great feats.


Alexander the Great by Arthur Weigall: This book was first published in 1933.  It is an attempt to see Alexander neither as a superhuman nor as a mindless adventurer.  But as he comes out of the stories in his favour and against.  The author sees no contradiction in the varying stories about Alexander.  He says “these apparent contradictions can be reconciled, and indeed, are only to be expected in the case of so vital and spirited a young man who dies before his many-sided character had had time to settle down into a definite shape.”  According to him.  Alexander was brought up in belief that he was the son of Zeus-Ammon, the Graeco-Egyptian father.  From here on the book traces one success to another, which were won without much forethought.

IT tools in Culture Application

Information technology is provinng to be a useful medium in culture-related areas.  Its applications in preservation, conservation and propagation are expanding.  The IGNCA has one of the best labs in India for implementing technological tools for culture.  The Cultural Informatics Lab (CIL) has done some pioneering work in this field.  A team from the CIL and scholars of the IGNCA attended a three-day programme in New Delhi from March 24 to 26.  The programme ‘EuroIndia 2004 Cooperation Forum on the Information society’ was jointly sponsored by the Forum, the European Commission, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) and the Manufacturer’s Association of Information Technology (MAIT).  This was the fourth in a series of international co-operation events funded by the European Commission.  It aimed to stimulate and spread ICT innovations in business, culture, government, transport, and consumer and environmental protection.

Some of the papers presented in the section of Culture discussed IT and archives, cultural heritage, IT and museums, digitization of cultural heritages, IT and imaging, technologies for preserving audio-visual materials etc. Prof. R.K. Bhattacharya, Shri P. Jha, Dr. Kailash Mishra, Smt. Kakoli Biswas, Shri G. Chamundeshwaran, Shri B. Virendra Bangroo and Smt. Ritu from the IGNCA attended the seminar.

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