In the first authoritative biography of Alexander the Great written for a general audience in a generation, classicist and historian Philip Freeman tells the remarkable life of the great conqueror.

The celebrated Macedonian king has been one of the most enduring figures in history. He was a general of such skill and renown that for two thousand years other great leaders studied his strategy and tactics, from Hannibal to Napoleon, with countless more in between. He flashed across the sky of history like a comet, glowing brightly and burning out quickly: crowned at age nineteen, dead by thirty-two. He established the greatest empire of the ancient world; Greek coins and statues are found as far east as Afghanistan. Our interest in him has never faded.

Alexander was born into the royal family of Macedonia, the kingdom that would soon rule over Greece. Tutored as a boy by Aristotle, Alexander had an inquisitive mind that would serve him well when he faced formidable obstacles during his military campaigns. Shortly after taking command of the army, he launched an invasion of the Persian empire, and continued his conquests as far south as the deserts of Egypt and as far east as the mountains of present-day Pakistan and the plains of India. Alexander spent nearly all his adult life away from his homeland, and he and his men helped spread the Greek language throughout western Asia, where it would become the lingua franca of the ancient world. Within a short time after Alexander’s death in Baghdad, his empire began to fracture. Best known among his successors are the Ptolemies of Egypt, whose empire lasted until Cleopatra.

In his lively and authoritative biography of Alexander, classical scholar and historian Philip Freeman describes Alexander’s astonishing achievements and provides insight into the mercurial character of the great conqueror. Alexander could be petty and magnanimous, cruel and merciful, impulsive and farsighted. Above all, he was ferociously, intensely competitive and could not tolerate losing—which he rarely did. As Freeman explains, without Alexander, the influence of Greece on the ancient world would surely not have been as great as it was, even if his motivation was not to spread Greek culture for beneficial purposes but instead to unify his empire. Only a handful of people have influenced history as Alexander did, which is why he continues to fascinate us.
More than two thousand years after his death, Julius Caesar remains one of the great figures of history. He shaped Rome for generations, and his name became a synonym for "emperor" -- not only in Rome but as far away as Germany and Russia. He is best known as the general who defeated the Gauls and doubled the size of Rome's territories. But, as Philip Freeman describes in this fascinating new biography, Caesar was also a brilliant orator, an accomplished writer, a skilled politician, and much more.

Julius Caesar was a complex man, both hero and villain. He possessed great courage, ambition, honor, and vanity. Born into a noble family that had long been in decline, he advanced his career cunningly, beginning as a priest and eventually becoming Rome's leading general. He made alliances with his rivals and then discarded them when it suited him. He was a spokesman for the ordinary people of Rome, who rallied around him time and again, but he profited enormously from his conquests and lived opulently. Eventually he was murdered in one of the most famous assassinations in history.

Caesar's contemporaries included some of Rome's most famous figures, from the generals Marius, Sulla, and Pompey to the orator and legislator Cicero as well as the young politicians Mark Antony and Octavius (later Caesar Augustus). Caesar's legendary romance with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra still fascinates us today.

In this splendid biography, Freeman presents Caesar in all his dimensions and contradictions. With remarkable clarity and brevity, Freeman shows how Caesar dominated a newly powerful Rome and shaped its destiny. This book will captivate readers discovering Caesar and ancient Rome for the first time as well as those who have a deep interest in the classical world.
Early in the first century B.C. a Greek philosopher named Posidonius began an ambitious and dangerous journey into the little-known lands of the Celts. A man of great intellectual curiosity and considerable daring, Posidonius traveled from his home on the island of Rhodes to Rome, the capital of the expanding empire that had begun to dominate the Mediterranean. From there Posidonius planned to investigate for himself the mysterious Celts, reputed to be cannibals and savages. His journey would be one of the great adventures of the ancient world.

Posidonius journeyed deep into the heart of the Celtic lands in Gaul. There he discovered that the Celts were not barbarians but a sophisticated people who studied the stars, composed beautiful poetry, and venerated a priestly caste known as the Druids. Celtic warriors painted their bodies, wore pants, and decapitated their foes. Posidonius was amazed at the Celtic women, who enjoyed greater freedoms than the women of Rome, and was astonished to discover that women could even become Druids.

Posidonius returned home and wrote a book about his travels among the Celts, which became one of the most popular books of ancient times. His work influenced Julius Caesar, who would eventually conquer the people of Gaul and bring the Celts into the Roman Empire, ending forever their ancient way of life. Thanks to Posidonius, who could not have known that he was recording a way of life soon to disappear, we have an objective, eyewitness account of the lives and customs of the ancient Celts.
Ireland's patron saint has long been shrouded in legend: he drove the snakes out of Ireland; he triumphed over Druids and their supernatural powers; he used a shamrock to explain the Christian mystery of the Trinity. But his true story is more fascinating than the myths. We have no surviving image of Patrick, but we do have two remarkable letters that he wrote about himself and his beliefs -- letters that tell us more about the heart and soul of this man than we know about almost any of his contemporaries. In St. Patrick of Ireland Philip Freeman brings the historic Patrick and his world vividly to life.
Born in Britain late in the fourth century to an aristocratic family, Patrick was raised as a Roman citizen and a nominal Christian, destined for the privileged life of the nobility. But just before his sixteenth birthday, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and abducted to Ireland, where he spent six lonely years as a slave, tending sheep. Trapped in a foreign land, despondent, and at the mercy of his master, Patrick's ordeal turned him from an atheist to a true believer. After a vision in which God told him he would go home, Patrick escaped captivity and, following a perilous journey, returned to his astonished parents. Even more astonishing was his announcement that he intended to go back to Ireland and devote the rest of his life to ministering to the people who had once enslaved him.
One of Patrick's two surviving letters is a declaration written to jealous British bishops in defense of his activities in Ireland; the other is a stinging condemnation of a ruthless warlord who attacked and killed some of Patrick's Irish followers. Both are powerful statements remarkable for their passion and candor. Freeman includes them in full in new translations of his own.
Combining Patrick's own heartfelt account of his life as he revealed it himself with the turbulent history of the British Isles in the last years of the Roman Empire, St. Patrick of Ireland brilliantly brings to life the real Patrick, shorn of legend, and shows how he helped to change Irish history and culture.
The legend of Saint Patrick is irresistibly captivating-he drove the snakes out of Ireland, battled the druids, and used the three-leaf Shamrock to convert the pagan Irish to belief in the Christian Trinity. Yet, as so often happens, these stories are mere myths that fold under closer scrutiny. Snakes never plagued the Irish countryside, and the Emerald Isle's most beloved saint wasn't even Irish but a Briton of the Roman nobility. Fortunately, the truth is even more fascinating. In The World of Saint Patrick, classical scholar Philip Freeman offers the definitive account of Saint Patrick's life through new and vibrant translations of the greatest works of early Christian Ireland. This story of great violence, brutality, and even greater faith begins with two letters Patrick wrote describing his kidnapping by pirates at age sixteen and subsequent slavery. Although his grandfather was a priest and his father a deacon, at the time of his kidnapping Patrick had rejected his childhood faith in favor of atheism. Yet in this deeply moving narrative, Patrick recounts how he regained his faith during his captivity, and how the voice of God guided him both in his escape from bondage and in his eventual return to Ireland as a missionary to the very people who had enslaved him. The World of Saint Patrick delves into colorful tales of Patrick's struggles with pagan kings, soaring hymns of praise, and a prayer of protection against forces of evil such as "the magic of women, blacksmiths, and druids." Freeman also examines the life of Saint Brigid, Ireland's first female saint, and the legendary voyage of Saint Brendan and his monks across the western ocean. Both general readers with an interest in Ireland's saints and scholars studying religion or medieval history will be unable to put down this captivating tale of Ireland's greatest saint and the remarkable times in which he lived.
Most people have heard of the Celts--the elusive, ancient tribal people who resided in present-day England, Ireland, Scotland and France. Paradoxically characterized as both barbaric and innocent, the Celts appeal to the modern world as a symbol of a bygone era, a world destroyed by the ambition of empire and the spread of Christianity throughout Western Europe. Despite the pervasive cultural and literary influence of the Celts, shockingly little is known of their way of life and beliefs, because very few records of their stories exist. In this book, for the first time, Philip Freeman brings together the best stories of Celtic mythology. Everyone today knows about the gods and heroes of the ancient Greeks, such as Zeus, Hera, and Hercules, but how many people have heard of the Gaulish god Lugus or the magical Welsh queen Rhiannon or the great Irish warrior Cú Chulainn? We still thrill to the story of the Trojan War, but the epic battles of the Irish Táin Bó Cuailgne are known only to a few. And yet those who have read the stories of Celtic myth and legend-among them writers like J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis-have been deeply moved and influenced by these amazing tales, for there is nothing in the world quite like them. In these stories a mysterious and invisible realm of gods and spirits exists alongside and sometimes crosses over into our own human world; fierce women warriors battle with kings and heroes, and even the rules of time and space can be suspended. Captured in vivid prose these shadowy figures-gods, goddesses, and heroes-come to life for the modern reader.
The legend of Saint Patrick is irresistibly captivating-he drove the snakes out of Ireland, battled the druids, and used the three-leaf Shamrock to convert the pagan Irish to belief in the Christian Trinity. Yet, as so often happens, these stories are mere myths that fold under closer scrutiny. Snakes never plagued the Irish countryside, and the Emerald Isle's most beloved saint wasn't even Irish but a Briton of the Roman nobility. Fortunately, the truth is even more fascinating. In The World of Saint Patrick, classical scholar Philip Freeman offers the definitive account of Saint Patrick's life through new and vibrant translations of the greatest works of early Christian Ireland. This story of great violence, brutality, and even greater faith begins with two letters Patrick wrote describing his kidnapping by pirates at age sixteen and subsequent slavery. Although his grandfather was a priest and his father a deacon, at the time of his kidnapping Patrick had rejected his childhood faith in favor of atheism. Yet in this deeply moving narrative, Patrick recounts how he regained his faith during his captivity, and how the voice of God guided him both in his escape from bondage and in his eventual return to Ireland as a missionary to the very people who had enslaved him. The World of Saint Patrick delves into colorful tales of Patrick's struggles with pagan kings, soaring hymns of praise, and a prayer of protection against forces of evil such as "the magic of women, blacksmiths, and druids." Freeman also examines the life of Saint Brigid, Ireland's first female saint, and the legendary voyage of Saint Brendan and his monks across the western ocean. Both general readers with an interest in Ireland's saints and scholars studying religion or medieval history will be unable to put down this captivating tale of Ireland's greatest saint and the remarkable times in which he lived.
Most people have heard of the Celts--the elusive, ancient tribal people who resided in present-day England, Ireland, Scotland and France. Paradoxically characterized as both barbaric and innocent, the Celts appeal to the modern world as a symbol of a bygone era, a world destroyed by the ambition of empire and the spread of Christianity throughout Western Europe. Despite the pervasive cultural and literary influence of the Celts, shockingly little is known of their way of life and beliefs, because very few records of their stories exist. In this book, for the first time, Philip Freeman brings together the best stories of Celtic mythology. Everyone today knows about the gods and heroes of the ancient Greeks, such as Zeus, Hera, and Hercules, but how many people have heard of the Gaulish god Lugus or the magical Welsh queen Rhiannon or the great Irish warrior Cú Chulainn? We still thrill to the story of the Trojan War, but the epic battles of the Irish Táin Bó Cuailgne are known only to a few. And yet those who have read the stories of Celtic myth and legend-among them writers like J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis-have been deeply moved and influenced by these amazing tales, for there is nothing in the world quite like them. In these stories a mysterious and invisible realm of gods and spirits exists alongside and sometimes crosses over into our own human world; fierce women warriors battle with kings and heroes, and even the rules of time and space can be suspended. Captured in vivid prose these shadowy figures-gods, goddesses, and heroes-come to life for the modern reader.
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