Ancient History & Civilisation


I include the main works in English, with a few essential, foreign-language texts, that I used to write this study and as a guide to further reading.

Students of classics and ancient history should have The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) by their side. Excellent maps of the ancient world can be found in Richard J. A. Talbert, ed., The Barrington Atlas of the Ancient Greco-Roman World. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).


None of our three commanders has generated as many scholarly books and articles as Alexander. What follows is just a taste.

A good place to begin is Philip Freeman’s recent Alexander the Great (New York, Simon & Schuster, 2011), which offers a knowledgeable and readable overview. The most thorough and scholarly introduction to Alexander is A. B. Bosworth, Conquest and Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), but it is not an easy read. Robin Lane Fox’s Alexander the Great (London: Penguin Books, 1973) is a powerful narrative and just as well grounded in the scholarship—and the author wears his learning lightly. Peter Green’s Alexander of Macedon: A Historical Biography, 356–323 BC (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991, originally published 1974) is also good but not as good on military matters. Green and Bosworth are harsher on Alexander than are Freeman and Lane Fox. J. R. Hamilton’s Alexander the Great (London: Hutchinson University Library, 1973) is very concise.

Other good, recent introductions to Alexander include Paul Cartledge, Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past (Woodstock & New York: Overlook Press, 2004); Waldemar Heckel, The Conquests of Alexander the Great (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008); Guy MacLean Rogers, Alexander: The Ambiguity of Greatness (New York: Random House, 2004), and Joseph Roisman, ed., Brill’s Companion to Alexander the Great (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2003).

For introductions to the history of Macedonia and Philip II, see Eugene N. Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus: The Emergence of Macedon (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990); Joseph Roisman and Ian Worthington, eds., A Companion to Ancient Macedonia (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), and Ian Worthington, Philip II of Macedonia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008).

Scholars strive for balance. Still, Alexander has a way of bringing out extremes and some of the best historians of Alexander tend to fall among his admirers or detractors. The dean of the admirers is W. W. Tarn, Alexander the Great, 2 vols. (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press 1948), who wrote a classic and influential account offering an idealistic portrait of Alexander as a proponent of universal brotherhood. A year later, in 1949, Fritz Schachermeyr described Alexander as a terrifying and dangerous genius in a magisterial work, revised in 1973 as Alexander der Grosse: Das Problem seiner Persönlichkeit und seines Wirkens (Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften; Philosophisch-Historische Klasse; Sitzungsberichte, 1973). In English the leading skeptic of the late twentieth century was Ernst Badian, who sketched an image of Alexander as opportunistic, fallible, and anything but idealistic in a series of influential essays. Among the best are “Alexander the Great and the Unity of Mankind,” Historia 7 (1958): 424–44; “Alexander the Great and the Loneliness of Power,” AUMLA 17 (1962): 80–91, reprinted in Badian, Studies in Greek and Roman History (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1964), 192–205; “Alexander the Great and the Greeks of Asia,” in E. Badian, ed., Ancient Society and Institutions: Studies Presented to Victor Ehrenberg on his 75th Birthday (Oxford, England: Blackwell, 1966), 37–69; “Agis III,” Hermes 95.2 (1967): 170–92; “Alexander the Great, 1948–1961,” Classical World65 (1971) 37–56, 77–83; “Alexander in Iran,” in I. Gershovitch, ed., The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. II (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 420–501; “Darius III,” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 100 (2000): 241–68. Badian also wrote a series of short but sharp encyclopedia entries on Alexander topics for Encyclopedia Iranica,, and Brill’s New Pauly: encyclopaedia of the ancient world (Leiden, Brill: 2007).

A. B. Bosworth is the most important skeptic writing about Alexander today. In addition to his Conquest and Empire (above), see his Alexander and the East: The Tragedy of Triumph (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996). For a stimulating if overdrawn argument for Alexander as strategic failure, see J. D. Grainger, Alexander the Great Failure (London: Continuum Books, 2007).

Frank L. Holt has written several important books about Alexander’s campaigns in Bactria and Sogdiana, among them the intriguing Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003) and the provocative Into the Land of Bones: Alexander the Great in Afghanistan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005). Pierre Briant emphasizes Alexander’s debt to the Persians in Alexander the Great and His Empire: A Short Introduction, translated by Amélie Kuhrt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010).

Most of the ancient sources are available in paperback. The reader should begin with Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander (Harmondsworth, England, & Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1976), and then continue with Quintus Curtius Rufus, The History of Alexander (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 2004). Next comes Plutarch’s “Life of Alexander,” which is conveniently found in Plutarch, The Age of Alexander: Nine Greek Lives, translated and annotated by Ian Scott-Kilvert (Harmondsworth, England, 1973). Another important source, Diodorus Siculus, is best read in the Loeb Classical Library edition: C. Bradford Welles, translator; Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, Volume VIII, Books 16.66–17 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963). A minor ancient source, Justin’s Epitome of the Philippic History, of Pompeius Trogus, can be found in translation at

On the Macedonian way of war, F. E. Adcock’s The Greek and Macedonian Art of War (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962) is still a good introduction. J. R. Ashley, The Macedonian Empire: The Era of Warfare Under Philip II and Alexander the Great, 359–323 B.C. (Jefferson, NC, & London: McFarland, 1998), is insightful although not always accurate.

On Alexander as commander, a good place to begin is the perceptive sketch by John Keegan in his The Mask of Command (New York: Penguin Books, 1988). The great military theorist J.F.C. Fuller offers an incisive analysis in The Generalship of Alexander the Great (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1960), if not one always backed up by later scholarship. N.G.L. Hammond, Alexander the Great: King, Commander, and Statesman (Park Ridge, NJ: Noyes Press, 1980), is scholarly and perceptive if sometimes worshipful; A. B. Lloyd, “Philip II and Alexander the Great: The Moulding of Macedon’s Army,” in A. B. Lloyd, ed., Battle in Antiquity (London: Duckworth, in association with the Classical Press of Wales, 1996), 169–98; Nick Sekunda, The Army of Alexander the Great (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1984); Idem, The Persian Army 560–330 BC (London: Osprey Publishing, 1992).

On Alexander’s pitched battles, see the following studies, in addition to the books above: Granicus—E. Badian, “The Battle of the Granicus, A New Look,” Ancient Macedonia II (Thessaloniki: 1977): 271–93; Clive Foss, “The Battle of the Granicus: A New Look,” ibid.: 495–502; N.G.L. Hammond, “The Battle of the Granicus River,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 100, Centenary Issue (1980): 73–88; Devine, A. M. “Demythologizing the Battle of the Granicus,” Phoenix 40 (1986): 265–78; Nikos Th. Nikolitsis, The Battle of the Granicus (Stockholm: [Svenska Institutet i Athen], 1974); M. Thompson, Granicus 334 BC: Alexander’s first Persian victory (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2007). Issus—A. M. Devine, “The Location of the Battlefield of Issus,” Liverpool Classical Monthly 5.1 (1985): 3–10; Idem, “The Strategies of Alexander the Great and Darius III in the Issus Campaign (333 B.C.),” Ancient World 12 (1985): 25–37; Idem, “Grand Tactics at the Battle of Issus,” Ancient World 12 (1985): 39–59. Gaugamela—E. W. Marsden,The Campaign of Gaugamela (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1964); A. M. Devine, “Grand tactics at Gaugamela,” Phoenix 29 (1975): 374–85; Idem, “Gaugamela, a Tactical and Source-Critical Study,” Ancient World (1986) 13: 87–16. Hydaspes—A. M. Devine, “The Battle of Hydaspes, a Tactical and Source-Critical Study,” Ancient World (1987) 16: 91–113.

I have benefited from the following studies on specific subjects: Ada Cohen, The Alexander Mosaic: Stories of Victory and Defeat (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Due, B. (1993), “Alexander’s Inspiration and Ideas,” in Jesper Carlsen, ed.,Alexander the Great: Reality and Myth (Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2002) 53–60; R. Edwards, “Two Horns, Three Religions. How Alexander the Great ended up in the Quran,” American Philological Association, 133rd Annual Meeting Program (Philadelphia, 5 January 2002) 36, under Reception of Classical Literature, No. 5.; D. W. Engels, Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978); E. A. Fredricksmeyer (1982), “On the Final Aims of Philip II,” in W. Lindsay Adams and Eugene N. Borza, eds., Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Macedonian Heritage (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982): 85–98; E. A. Fredricksmeyer, “Alexander the Great and the Kingship of Asia,” in A. B. Bosworth, ed., Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 136–66; A. Pasinli, The Book of Alexander Sarcophagus (Istanbul: A Turizm Yayinlari, 1997); E. M. Anson, “The Persian Fleet in 334,” Classical Philology 84 (1989): 44–89.

On Alexander’s route, see the classic studies by Freya Stark, Alexander’s Path from Caria to Cilicia (London: J. Murray, 1958) and “Alexander’s March from Miletus to Phrygia,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 78 (1958): 102–20; and the irresistible book and television documentary by Michael Wood, In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great: A Journey from Greece to Asia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), and In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (London: BBC Worldwide, 2010). See also Doganer, S. (2007), “Alexander the Great: Warrior King as Geographer,” [in Turkish] Türk Cografya Dergisi 48: 19–58.

Two very different books about Alexander as a strategist, each offbeat and each worth reading, are Partha Bose, Alexander the Great’s Art of Strategy (New York: Penguin, 2003), and David J. Lonsdale, Alexander the Great, Lessons in Strategy (London and New York: Routledge, 2007).

Mary Renault’s two fine novels about Alexander now seem a little dated: Fire from Heaven (New York: Vintage, 2002, originally published 1969) and The Persian Boy (New York: Vintage, 1988, originally published 1972). For insightful, imaginative, and exciting re-creations of Alexander’s battles, see two novels by Stephen Pressfield, The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great (New York: Bantam, 2005) and The Afghan Campaign: A Novel (New York: Broadway, 2007). Valerio Massimo Manfredi has a trilogy about Alexander: Alexander: Child of a Dream (New York: Washington Square Press, 2001), Alexander: The Sands of Ammon (New York: Washington Square Press, 2002), and Alexander: To the Ends of the Earth (New York: Washington Square Press, 2002). My favorite is The Sands of Ammon because of its dramatic portrayal of Memnon of Rhodes and its evocation of the Anatolian landscape.


Lost causes have a special appeal and Hannibal is no exception. He brings out something endearing for writers although readers should be aware that older books, especially those before 1945, often purvey a certain amount of nonsense about the “Semitic character.”

There is no such problem in an excellent, recent, and short introductory book by an outstanding scholar of the Punic Wars, Dexter Hoyos, Hannibal: Rome’s Greatest Enemy (Exeter, UK: Bristol Phoenix, 2008). An introductory article by Hoyos is also enlightening, “Hannibal: What Kind of Genius?” Greece and Rome, 2nd series 30.2 (1983): 171–80. Three older, idiosyncratic, and usually charming introductions to Hannibal are G. P. Baker, Hannibal (New York: Cooper Square Press, 1999, originally published 1929); Leonard Cottrell, Hannibal Enemy of Rome (New York: Da Capo Press, 1992, originally published 1960); Ernle Bradford, Hannibal (New York: Dorset Press, 1981). The best and most reliable scholarly volume in English is Serge Lancel,Hannibal, translated by Antonia Nevill (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988). Jakob Seibert wrote a magisterial biography in Hannibal (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1993), but it has not been translated from German to English. Dexter Hoyos offers an excellent analysis of Hannibal and his family in Hannibal’s Dynasty: Power and Politics in the Western Mediterranean, 247–183 BC (London & New York: Routledge, 2003).

The best introduction to the Punic Wars is Adrian Goldsworthy, The Punic Wars (London: Cassell, 2000). See now the essays in Dexter Hoyos, ed., A Companion to the Punic Wars (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011). For an insightful analysis, see Brian Caven, The Punic Wars (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1992). See also R. M. Errington, The Dawn of Empire: Rome’s Rise to World Power (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1972); N. Bagnall, The Punic Wars: Rome, Carthage, and the Struggle for the Mediterranean (London: Pimlico, 1999). T. A. Dorey and D. R. Dudley, Rome Against Carthage (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1972), is short and sound.

The single best military history of the Second Punic War is J. F. Lazenby, Hannibal’s War (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978). John Peddie, Hannibal’s War (Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire, England: Sutton Publishing, 1997), is insightful and often unconventional in its judgments. There is much of value in the essays in Tim Cornell, Boris Rankov, and Philip Sabin, eds., The Second Punic War: a reappraisal (London: Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 1996). Terence Wise and M. Healy, Hannibal’s War with Rome (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2002), is a fine source of illustrations.

Richard Miles offers an excellent introduction to Carthage, with special insight into Hannibal’s use of communications and a sober discussion of child sacrifice, in Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization (London: Allen Lane, 2010). A gorgeous collection of photos of art objects and archaeological finds from Carthage and the Carthaginian empire can be found in Hannibal ad Portas: Macht und Reichtum Karthagos/herausgegeben von Badesischen Landesmuseum Karlsruhe(Stuttgart: Theiss, 2004); the text of this museum catalog is in German.

For an introduction to Rome in the era of the Second Punic War, see Michael H. Crawford, The Roman Republic, second edition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993). See also H. H. Scullard, A History of the Roman World from 753 to 146 B.C.(London: Methuen & Co, 1970).

For the Roman army, see below under “Caesar.”

On the man who beat Hannibal, see B. H. Liddell Hart, Scipio Africanus, Greater than Napoleon (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2004, originally published 1926) and H. H. Scullard, Scipio Africanus: Soldier and Politician (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1970).

On the origins of the Second Punic War, Donald Kagan, On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace (New York: Anchor Books, 1996), offers a chapter of astute and concise analysis. For a detailed account, see Dexter Hoyos, Unplanned Wars: The Origins of the First and Second Punic Wars (Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1998). On Polybius and Hannibal’s decision to go to war against Rome, see A. M. Eckstein, “Hannibal at New Carthage: Polybius 3.15 and the Power of Irrationality,”Classical Philology 84.1 (1989): 1–15.

Some other valuable studies of topics in the Second Punic War include: On Hannibal and Rome’s Italian allies, see Michael P. Fronda, Between Rome and Carthage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). On Fabius’s strategy, P. Erdkamp, “Polybius, Livy, and the Fabian Strategy,” Ancient Society 23 (1992): 127–47. On Hannibal and religion, see T. W. Africa, “The One-Eyed Man against Rome,” Historia 19.5 (1970): 528–38; B. Corinne, “Melqart,” in Lindsay Jones, editor in chief, The Encyclopedia of Religion (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005), vol. 9: 5,846–849.

On the battle of Cannae, start with Robert O’Connell, The Ghosts of Cannae: Hannibal and the Darkest Hour of the Roman Republic (New York: Random House, 2010), or Adrian Goldsworthy, Cannae: Hannibal’s Greatest Victory (London: Cassell Military, 2001); see also Mark Daly, Cannae: The Experience of Battle in the Second Punic War (London & New York: Routledge, 2002); Martin Samuels, “The Reality of Cannae,” Militärgeschichtliche Mitteilungen 47 (1990): 7–29. On the aftermath of the battle, see J. F. Shean, “Hannibal’s Mules: The Logistical Limitations of Hannibal’s Army and the Battle of Cannae, 216 B.C.,” Historia 45.2 (1996): 159–87.

The two most important ancient sources are available in English translation in paperback: Polybius, The Rise of the Roman Empire, translated by Ian Scott-Kilvert, selected with an introduction by F. W. Walbank (Harmondsworth, New York: Penguin, 1979), and Livy, The war with Hannibal; books XXI–XXX of The History of Rome from its foundation, translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt, edited with an introduction by Betty Radice (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965). Plutarch’s Lives of Fabius Maximus and Marcellus, two important Roman commanders of the Second Punic War, can be found in Plutarch, Makers of Rome, translated with an Introduction by Ian Scott-Kilvert (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965). Appian’s uneven account is available in Horace White, translator,Appian’s Roman History, vol. 1 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1930). For Cornelius Nepos’s short biographies of Hamilcar and Hannibal, see Epitome of Roman History / Lucius Annaeus Florus [with an English translation by Edward Seymour Forster].Cornelius Nepos [with an English translation by John C. Rolfe], (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1929). For a translation of the fragments (that is, surviving passages) of Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, Books 26 and 29, on Hannibal, see*.html, and*.html, and Book 25, on Hamilcar Barca, see*.html.

David Anthony Durham, Pride of Carthage: a Novel of Hannibal (New York: Anchor, 2006), is a stirring and readable account of the Second Punic War. Ross Leckie, Hannibal (Washington, DC: Regnery, 1996), vivid and powerful, is a novel written in the form of a memoir. Gustave Flaubert’s classic historical novel Salammbo is set in Carthage shortly after the First Punic War, during the mercenary revolt or Truceless War (ca.240 B.C.). For a historical account, see Dexter Hoyos, Truceless War: Carthage’s Fight for Survival (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2007).


There are many good books about Caesar. For the man in a nutshell, it would be hard to beat J.P.V.D. Balsdon’s excellent little volume Julius Caesar (New York: Atheneum, 1967). An outstanding recent biography is Adrian Goldsworthy, Caesar: Life of a Colossus(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008). Philip Freeman, Julius Caesar (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), is astute and concise. A classic of good judgment and good scholarship is Matthias Gelzer, Caesar: Politician and Statesman, transl. by Peter Needham (Oxford: Blackwell, 1969). Christian Meier, Caesar, transl. by David McLintock (New York: Basic Books/Harper Collins, 1995) is a great book, scholarly and gripping, but sometimes idiosyncratic. On Caesar as communicator, see Zvi Yavetz,Julius Caesar and His Public Image (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983). On Caesar’s appeal to the poor and noncitizens, see Luciano Canfora, Julius Caesar: The Life and Times of the People’s Dictator, transl. by Marian Hill and Kevin Windle (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007).

For an introduction to the turbulent era of the late Roman republic, see Tom Holland, Rubicon (New York: Doubleday, 2003), or Mary Beard and Michael Crawford, Rome in the Late Republic (London: Duckworth, 2009). For a detailed account, see Erich Gruen,The Last Generation of the Roman Republic, second edition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995).

On Caesar as military commander, see J.F.C. Fuller, Julius Caesar: Man, Soldier and Tyrant (New Brunswick, NJ: Da Capo, 1965); Kimberly Kagan, The Eye of Command (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006).

On Caesar as a writer and historical source, see F. E. Adcock, Caesar as Man of Letters (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956); the essays in Kathryn Welch and Anton Powell, eds., Julius Caesar as Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (London, Duckworth, Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 1998); J. E. Lendon, “The Rhetoric of Combat: Greek Military Theory and Roman Culture in Julius Caesar’s Battle Descriptions,” Classical Antiquity 18 (1999): 273–329; L. F. Raditsa, “Julius Caesar and His Writings,” in H. Temporini, ed., Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt; Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung, Joseph Vogt zu seinem 75. Geburtstag gewidmet, I: Von den Anfängen Roms bis zum Ausgang der Republik, vol. I.3 (Berlin, New York: De Gruyter, 1973): 417–56.

On Pompey, see Peter Greenhalgh, Pompey, the Republican Prince (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1982), and Robin Seager, Pompey the Great, A Political Biography, second edition (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002); Patricia Southern, Pompey(Stroud: Tempus, 2002). See also Kurt von Fritz, “Pompey’s Policy Before and After the Outbreak of the Civil War of 49 B.C.,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 74 (1942): 145–80; John Leach, Pompey the Great (London: Croom Helm, 1978).

On the battle of Pharsalus, see W. Gwatkin, “Some Reflections on the Battle of Pharsalus,” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 87 (1956): 109–24; C. B. R. Pelling, “Pharsalus,” Historia 22 (1973): 249–59; Matthew Leigh,Lucan: Spectacle and Engagement (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973), 77–157; J. D. Morgan, “Palaepharsalus—the Battle and the Town,” American Journal of Archaeology 87 (1983): 23–54; Graham Wylie, “The Road to Pharsalus,” Latomus 51 (1992): 557–65.

On the Roman way of war, see the old but still good F. E. Adcock, The Roman Art of War under the Republic (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1940). For a more recent overview see either Adrian Goldsworthy, Roman Warfare (New York: Smithsonian Books/Collins, 2005), or Jonathan P. Roth, Roman Warfare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009). For a more detailed introduction, see Adrian Goldsworthy, The Complete Roman Army (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2003); C. M. Gilliver,The Roman Art of War (Charleston, SC: Tempus, 1999), offers thoughtful analysis. See also Kate Gilliver, Adrian Goldsworthy, and Michael Whitby, Rome at War (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2005), and the relevant essays in Paul Erdkamp, ed., A Companion to the Roman Army (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007). L. J. F. Keppie, The Making of the Roman Army: From Republic to Empire (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984), offers a detailed analysis of the evolution of the Roman army in the Republic, and John Peddie, The Roman War Machine (Conshohocken, Penn.: Combined Publishing, 1996), is good on generalship. On logistics, see Paul Erdkamp, Hunger and the Sword: Warfare and Food Supply in Roman Republican Wars (264–30 B.C.), (Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1998), and Jonathan P. Roth, The Logistics of the Roman Army at War (264 B.C.–A.D. 235), (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 1999).

A valuable selection of the sources, with commentary and bibliography, can be found in Matthew Dillon and Lynda Garland, eds., Ancient Rome: From the Early Republic to the Assassination of Julius Caesar (London and New York: Routledge, 2005). Julius Caesar, The Civil War, with the anonymous Alexandrian, African, and Spanish Wars, translated with an Introduction and Notes by J. M. Carter (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997); Appian, The Civil Wars, translated with an Introduction by J. M. Carter (London; New York: Penguin Books, 1996). For Dio Cassius’s history of Rome, Books 41–44, consult the Loeb Classical Library edition, Dio Cassius, Roman History, volume 4: Books 41–44 trans. Earnest [sic] Cary and Herbert Baldwin Foster (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1916); the English translation is available online at Plutarch’s lives of Pompey and Caesar can be found in Plutarch, Fall of the Roman Republic, revised edition, translated with Introduction and Notes by Rex Warner, revised with translations of comparisons and a Preface by Robin Seager, with series Preface by Christopher Pelling (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2005); Plutarch’s lives of Brutus and Mark Antony can be found in Plutarch, Makers of Rome, translated with an Introduction by Ian Scott-Kilvert (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965); Suetonius’s life of Caesar is available in Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, The Twelve Caesars, transl. by Robert Graves, revised with an introduction by Michael Grant (London, New York: Penguin, 2003).

On Cleopatra, see Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life (New York: Little, Brown 2010); Duane Roller, Cleopatra: A Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010); Diana E. E. Kleiner, Cleopatra and Rome (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005).

Studies of specific subjects include: J.V.P.D. Balsdon, “The Ides of March,” Historia 7 (1958): 80–94; Elmore, J., “Caesar on the Causes of Mutiny,” Classical Journal 20 (1925): 430–32; Peter Green, “Caesar and Alexander: Aemulatio, Imitatio, Comparatio,”American Journal of Ancient History (1979) 3: 1–26.

Colleen McCullough, Caesar: A Novel (New York: William Morrow, 1997), is popular and faithful to the historical sources; Steven Saylor, The Judgment of Caesar: A Novel of Ancient Rome (New York: St. Martin’s Minotaur Books, 2004) and Steven Saylor,The Triumph of Caesar: A Novel of Ancient Rome (New York: St. Martin’s Minotaur Books, 2008) are engaging detective stories. Conn Iggulden’s Emperor: The Gods of War (New York: Delacorte Press, 2006) paints a picture of the civil war in broad strokes. Thornton Wilder’s The Ides of March (New York: Harper Perennial, 2003, originally published 1948) is a subtle delight.


There is no textbook, but for something close to it, see John Gibson Warry, Warfare in the Classical World: an illustrated encyclopedia of weapons, warriors and warfare in the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995), and Simon Anglim et al., Fighting techniques of the ancient world 3,000 BC–500 AD: equipment, combat skills, and tactics (New York: Thomas Dunne Books: St. Martin’s Press, 2002). Harry Sidebottom offers a thematic approach in Ancient Warfare: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). Peter Connolly, Greece and Rome at War. (London: Greenhill Books, 2006), offers superb illustrations and sound history.

On strategy in ancient warfare, see the essays in Victor Davis Hanson, ed., Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010). On psychology in ancient battles, see J. E. Lendon, Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006).

Giovanni Brizzi offers an overview of ancient warfare, with an especially good analysis of Hannibal’s tactics, in Il guerriero, l’oplita, il legionario. Gli eserciti nel mondo classico (Bologna, Italy: Il Mulino, 2002), in Italian.

Philip Sabin, Lost Battles: Reconstructing the Great Clashes of the Ancient World (London: Hambledon Continuum, 2008), combines war-gaming and scholarship to reconstruct the ancient battlefield.

On cavalry, see Philip Sidnell, Warhorse: Cavalry in Ancient Warfare. (London, Hambledon Continuum, 2006).


One begins with Theodore Ayrault Dodge, Great captains: a course of six lectures showing the influence on the art of war of the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus Adolphus, Frederick, and Napoleon (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1892, copyright 1889). Dodge also published detailed, individual volumes on each of these six commanders.

Richard A. Gabriel offers astute analysis and a series of case studies, including Hannibal and Scipio Africanus in Great Captains of Antiquity, forewords by Mordechai Gihon and David Jablonsky (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2001).

Insightful studies of later commanders who might be called “great captains,” from the medieval period to the twentieth century, include Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart, Great Captains Unveiled (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1967); Martin Blumemson and James L. Stokesbury, Masters of the Art of Command (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975); Martin van Creveld, Command in War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987); Eliot Cohen, Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime (New York: Free Press, 2002); John Keegan, The Mask of Command (New York: Penguin Books, 1988).

For an introduction to modern social science and its scholarship on leadership, see Bernard M. Bass with Ruth Bass, The Bass Handbook of Leadership, fourth edition (New York: Free Press, 2008), and various entries in George R. Goethals, Georgia J. Sorenson, James MacGregor Burns, ed., Encylopedia of Leadership (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2004).

On elephants in ancient warfare, see H. H. Scullard, The Elephant in the Greek and Roman World (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1974).

On strategic intuition, see William R. Duggan, Coup d’oeil: strategic intuition in Army planning (Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U. S. Army War College, 2005) and Idem, Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement (New York: Columbia Business School Pub., 2007).

I found a great deal of wisdom in two recent books on great leaders by political philosophers: Robert Faulkner, The Case for Greatness: Honorable Ambition and Its Critics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), and Walter Randy Newell, The Soul of a Leader: Character, Conviction, and Ten Lessons in Political Greatness (New York: Harper Collins, 2009). I also benefitted greatly from Winston S. Churchill, Great Contemporaries (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973, originally published 1937).



wearing a mail breastplate: the details of Hannibal’s armor are based on a likely reconstruction.

bright and fiery look: Livy, History of Rome 21.4

Book of Daniel: 8:1–8, 15–22, 11:2–4.

“tribe of the eagle”: Abraham Lincoln, “Address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, January 27, 1838” in Speeches and Writings 1832–1858. Library of America: New York, 1989, 34.

“I didn’t follow the cause. I followed the man—and he was my friend”: paraphrase of Gaius Matius in his letter to Cicero of 44 B.C.: “neque enim Caesarem in dissensione civili sum secutus sed amicum,” Cicero, Letters to Friends 11.28.2.

The sight of Hannibal in his army cloak: Livy, History of Rome 21.4.

“Because he loved honor, he loved danger”: Plutarch, Caesar 17.2.

Only the need for sleep and sex: Plutarch, Life of Alexander 22.6.

“And young man,” he said: Plutarch, Life of Caesar 35.11.

he killed a million people: Plutarch, Life of Caesar 15.5.

Or so the Romans claimed: Livy, History of Rome 31.20.6.

“spear-won” land: Diodorus Siculus 17.17.2.

No man has ever outdone Alexander’s feat: Genghis Khan conquered a much larger empire but he took twenty years to do so and lived to be sixty-five.


“the splendor of the great prize”: Polybius, Histories 3.6.12, Loeb translation,*.html.

“He was by his very nature truly a marvelous man”: Polybius, Histories 9.22.6.

“young, full of martial ardor”: Polybius, Histories 3.15.6, Loeb translation,*.html.

first man in Rome: Plutarch, Life of Caesar 11.3–4.

“The Republic is not the question at issue”: Cicero, Letters to Atticus 10.7.1.

“reputation and rank”: Caesar, Civil War 1.7.

“the rank of the republic”: Caesar, Civil War 1.9.

“a benefit granted to me [Caesar]”: Caesar, Civil War 1.9.

“He [Caesar] says he is doing everything”: Cicero, Letters to Atticus 7.11.1.

“The enemy would have won”: Plutarch, Life of Caesar 39.8.

“had been trained in actual warfare constantly”: Polybius, Histories 3.89.5–6, Loeb translation,*.html.

“honor and empire”: Livy, History of Rome 22.58.3.

“wholly under the influence”: Polybius, Histories 3.15.9.

“It is not the big armies”: Martin Blumenson and James Stokesbury, Masters of the Art of Command (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1990), p. 146.

“famous for his good judgment as a general”: Diodorus Siculus 17.18.2.

“advocated a policy”: Diodorus Siculus 17.18.2.

shoving: Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander 1.15.2.

“horses fighting entangled with horses”: Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander 1.15.4.

“For his men had not only suffered terribly”: Polybius, Histories 3.60.3, Loeb translation,*.html.

“more essential to a general than the knowledge of his opponent’s principles”: Polybius, Histories 3.81.1, Loeb translation,*.html.

the weak spots: Polybius, Histories 3.81.3.

“he had come above all”: Polybius, Histories 3.77.3–7, trans. Penguin.

“He thought surprise”: Plutarch, Life of Caesar 32.2.

“used to depend on the surprise”: Appian, Civil Wars 2.34 [136], trans. Matthew Dillon and Lynda Garland, Ancient Rome from the Early Republic to the Assassination of Julius Caesar (New York: Routledge, 2005), p. 643.

“This he did”: Caesar, Civil War 1.23.

“Let this be”: (Caesar in [Cicero] Letters to Atticus 9.7c (ca. 5 March 49).

“insidious clemency”: Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 8.16.

“Men are apt to think”: Thucydides, 7.69.2.


“do not envision the consequences”: Polybius, Histories 11.2.4–6.

“The challenge of education”: cited in Craig Mullaney, The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education (New York: Penguin, 2009), p. 365.

Aristotle had taught him: Aristotle, Politics 4.1296a.

“soft underbelly”: Richard M. Langworth, The Definitive Wit of Winston Churchill (New York: Public Affairs, 2009), p. 109.

The roar echoed: Curtius 3.10.1–2; Diodorus Siculus 17.33.4.

“in three battles”: Curtius 4.1.35.

“I would accept”: Plutarch, Life of Alexander 29.8.

land made for ambushes: Livy, History of Rome 22.4.1.

The sources hint at a debate in the Carthaginian high command: Dexter Hoyos, “Maharbal’s Bon Mot: Authenticity and Survival,” Classical Quarterly n.s. 50.2 (2000): 610–14.

“that his army could not drive or carry it all off”: Polybius, Histories 3.86.10, Loeb translation,*.html.

“in a country abounding in all kinds of produce”: Polybius, Histories 3.87.1, Loeb translation,*.html.

“inexhaustible supplies of provisions and men”: Polybius, Histories 3.89.9. Loeb translation,*.html.

“to send aid to their allies” Plutarch, Fabius 2.5., Loeb translation, (vol. 3, 1916),*.html.

“He therefore made up his mind”: Plutarch, Fabius 5.3, Loeb translation, (vol. 3, 1916),*.html.

“Hannibal’s manservant”: literally, “Hannibal’s paedagogus,” a Greek slave who served as a young Roman noble’s attendant.

“art of Punic fraud”: Florus, Epitome 1.22.13.

best stratagems: Plutarch, Life of Pompey 63.1.

“wars are not won by evacuations”: Winston Churchill, Speech to the House of Commons, June 4, 1940,

going against an army without a leader: Suetonius, Julius Caesar 34.2.

“not through lenience”: Suetonius, Julius Caesar 69.

“et devotissimi . . . et fortissimi”: Suetonius, Julius Caesar 68.1.

“the most potent thing in war is the unexpected”: Appian, Civil Wars 53.

“There can be no peace for us until Caesar’s head is brought in”: Caesar, Civil War 3.19.

“Caesar’s good fortune”: Appian, Civil Wars 2.57.

animals and not men: Appian, Civil Wars 2.61.

wrote to his famous father-in-law: Cicero, Letters to Friends 9.9.2–3.

“fortune . . . produces great changes”: Caesar, Civil War 3.68.

“Imperator!”: Caesar, Civil War 3.71.

“Today the enemy would have won”: Plutarch, Caesar 39; cf. Appian, Civil Wars 2.62. Translated by Rex Warner: Plutarch, Fall of the Roman Republic, rev. edn. Trans. Rex Warner, rev. Robin Seager, preface by Christopher Pelling, London: Penguin Books, 2005, p. 294.

In private: Appian, Civil Wars 2.64.

In public: Caesar, Civil War 3.73.

faith in its father—himself: Dio Cassius, Roman History 41.27.

“War is a harsh teacher”: Thucydides 3.82.2.


“For a short time the battle became a hand-to-hand fight”: Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander 3.14.3.

“the air . . . with the groans of the fallen”: Diodorus Siculus 17.60.4.

There was none of the usual spear throwing: Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander 3.15.2.

“a strange and terrifying appearance”: Polybius, Histories 3.114.

might as well have handed themselves over to his men in chains: Livy, History of Rome 22.49.3.

“slaughter rather than battle”: Livy, History of Rome 22.48.6.

so many Roman dead: the most credible ancient casualty figures are found in Livy, History of Rome 22.49.13–18, but they don’t quite jibe with the total number of Roman soldiers in the usually reliable Polybius, Histories 3.113.

Caesar’s drunken and bloated men: Appian, Civil Wars 2.64.

“disciplined and desperate men”: Appian, Civil Wars 2.64, trans. Loeb,

“the most prudent calculation”: Appian, Civil Wars 2.64, trans. Loeb,

“more reserved”: Tacitus, Histories 2.38.

At last, Pompey gave in: Caesar, Civil War 3.86; Appian, Civil Wars 2.10.67; Plutarch, Life of Pompey 67.4–5; Polyaenus, Stratagems of War 8.23.14.

like a ship’s captain surrendering the rudder: Lucan, Pharsalia, 7.126–128.

they had to keep moving: Caesar, Civil War 3.85.

“Hope”: Thucydides 5.102.

The battle probably took place: the exact location of the battle is uncertain. Here, I follow the arguments of C.B.R. Pelling, “Pharsalus,” Historia 22 (1973), 249–59, and John D. Morgan, “Palaepharsalus—the Battle and the Town,” American Journal of Archaeology 87 (1983), 23–54.

One source reports that Caesar told his soldiers: Plutarch, Life of Pompey 68.4.

“Let us be ready in our hearts”: Caesar, Civil War 3.85.

“the crisis of the chiefs”: Lucan, Pharsalia 7.242–43.

included the weight of groans: Lucan, Pharsalia 7.571–73.

“its wings deployed across the entire plain”: Lucan, Pharsalia 7.506.

Archers and slingers: Cassius Dio 41.60.1–2.

melting in the heat: Lucan, Pharsalia 7.511–13.

“No circumstance contributed more”: Frontinus, Stratagems 2.22.

“They wanted this”: Asinius Pollio as cited by Suetonius, Julius Caesar 30.4.

The results of Pharsalus: Caesar, Civil War 3.99; Appian, Civil Wars 2.82, who cites the now lost history of Asinius Pollio, an eyewitness who fought at Pharsalus for Caesar.


he didn’t want Darius’s corpse: Justin 3.3.

a speech that touched on three themes: Plutarch, Life of Alexander 47.1–3, claims to be paraphrasing a letter to Antipater in which Alexander describes what he actually said.

he grossly underestimated the distance: Quintus Curtius 6.3.16.

Mago: Livy, History of Rome 28.46.7, 14; 29.4–5; 30.18–20. Mago had dreamed of glory, but today his only share of immortality may come via an egg sauce. The city of Mahón on Minorca claims to be the place where mayonnaise began—and Mahon also prides itself on being named after Mago. But the city’s etymology is debated, and other places too insist that they invented mayonnaise.

“of that sort worn only by Knights, and only by the first among them”: Livy, History of Rome 23.12.2.

“Now I understand the fate of Carthage!”: Livy, History of Rome 27.51.12.

“for themselves and their native soil”: Polybius, Histories 3.118.5.

“Truly the gods have not given”: Livy, History of Rome 22.51.4.

“It is widely believed that the day’s delay”: Livy, History of Rome 22.51.4.

all the way back to men who lived through the Second Punic War: Michael P. Fronda, Between Rome and Carthage: Southern Italy during the Second Punic War (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 42, n. 106, citing Hans Beck and U. Walter, eds. Die frühen römischen Historiker, vol. 1. (Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2001), 4 F13–14.

“neither the Carthaginians nor their enemies”: Livy, History of Rome 21.12.1.

Sulla, he said, did not know his political ABC’s: Suetonius, Julius Caesar 77.

“Fortis fortuna adiuvat”: Terence, Phormio 203.

“I cannot but mourn his fate,”: Cicero, Letters to Atticus 11.6.5.

“I demanded, I borrowed”: Cassius Dio, Roman History 42.49–50.

simple arithmetic: Cassius Dio, Roman History 42.49.

“citizens”: Suetonius, Julius Caesar 70; Plutarch, Life of Caesar 51.2; Appian, Civil Wars 2.13.92–94; Cassius Dio, Roman History 52–54.

He is said to have rid himself of the ringleaders: Cassius Dio, Roman History 42.55.2.

“guilt-stained”: The African War 44.

“Should I take a stand in arms”: The African War 45.

“I don’t call you commander-in-chief”: The African War 45.

He considered Caesar a tyrant: Plutarch, Cato the Younger 72.2, may have invented Cato’s speech, but it rings true.

“O Cato, I begrudge you”: Plutarch, Cato the Younger 72.2.

“Each for his cause can vouch a judge supreme”: Lucan, Pharsalia 1.127–28, translated by Sir Edward Ridley. Pharsalia. M. Annaeus Lucanus. (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1905),

“Aren’t you ashamed to hand me over to these little boys?”: Plutarch, Life of Caesar 56.2.


“various blessings and especially”: Arrian, Anabasis, modified from the translation by P. A. Brunt, Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander, Books V–VII (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 1983, p. 241.

“Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace”: Winston Churchill, My Early Life: A Roving Commission (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1987), p. 331.

“Alexander was always insatiable”: Aristoboulos as cited in Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander 7.19.6, and Strabo, Geography 16.1.11, cf. Arrian Indica 9.11.

“The great horn is broken”: Book of Daniel 8:8.

“The music must always play”: W. H. Auden, “September 1, 1939.”

“the unmentionable odor of death”: W. H. Auden, “September 1, 1939.”

“to the strongest”: Arrian, Anabasis 7.26.3, Diodorus Siculus 17.117.4, cf. 18.1.4; Quintus Curtius 10.5.5, Justin 12.15.8.

“great funeral games”: Diodorus Siculus 17.117.4.

“not small hopes but great hopes”: Polybius, Histories 15.2.3.

“look after other matters”: Polybius, Histories 15.5.2.

“amazed” . . . “felt an urge”: Polybius, Histories 15.5.8.

“struck by the enemy’s confidence”: Livy, History of Rome 30.29.4.

“seek peace while his army was intact”: Livy, History of Rome 30.29.5.

Polybius says that Hannibal was admirable at Zama: Polybius, Histories 15.15.3.

rather be the first man there: Plutarch, Life of Caesar 11.3–4.

“the tranquility of Italy”: Caesar, Civil War 3.57.

“The Republic,” he once said, “is nothing”: Suetonius, Julius Caesar 77.1.

“You too, my son?”: Suetonius, Julius Caesar 82.2.

fifty pitched battles in which he claimed to have killed 1,192,000 people: Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.91–92.

Caesar had no right to lord it over people: Plutarch, Life of Cato the Younger 66.2.


“The brave have the whole earth for their sepulcher”: Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War 2.43.3.

one of his subordinates trembled: the reference is to Cassander, Plutarch, Life of Alexander 74.6.

Hannibal’s “leadership, bravery, and ability in the field:” Polybius, Histories 11.19, the source of all citations in this paragraph. All translations in this paragraph are modified versions of W. R. Paton, Loeb Classical Library translation,*.html.

Scipio came to Ephesus: Livy, History of Rome 35.14.5–11; Plutarch, Life of Flaminius 21.3.

“Punic wit”: Livy, History of Rome 35.14.11.

“said that he had seen many doddering old men”: Cicero, On the Orator 2.75.

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