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The Alexiad (Penguin Classics) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780140455274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140455274
  • ASIN: 0140455272
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 4.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Anna Komnene (1083-1156) was the eldest child of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos. She is best known as the author of The Alexiad - written between 1143-53, it is the first major history written by a woman. Dr Peter Frankopan is a Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford. He has just completed a major monograph for CUP about Byzantium in the 11th and 12th century based on the Alexiad.

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Customer Reviews

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A wonderful read for anyone interested in Byzantine history.
Bryan Miller
It would also ignore the fact that this book is in many ways a treatise by Anna on what it means to be a good ruler, as exemplified through the person of Alexius.
Alfred Jensen
Frankopan also includes a bibliographic essay at the start of the text which provides a useful summary of the most recent and important scholarship.
Kirialax

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Miller on March 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
An excellent translation of Comnena's work, remains true to the original Greek while providing good equivalents for the more difficult idiomatic expressions. Also includes a couple of very helpful maps and appendices. A wonderful read for anyone interested in Byzantine history.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Jensen on January 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
In this history the Emperor Alexius comes across as a sort of medievil Lee Iacoca or Carlos Gohsn, who through very delicate wheeling and dealing manages to bring back a floundering empire from the brink. Since Anna was the emperor's daughter, we could expect a hagliography from her, but that would discredit her intensely perceptive analysis of the political situation as well as her own personal experiences with many of the major players or others who knew them. It would also ignore the fact that this book is in many ways a treatise by Anna on what it means to be a good ruler, as exemplified through the person of Alexius.

Excellent book for history buffs and people looking for examples of great leadership.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kirialax on December 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
As usual, I am not reviewing Anna Komnene as an historian. I am reviewing this particular edition of her work.

This is a relatively recent edition of the 'Alexiad'. While the core of E.R.A. Sewter's 1969 translation remains in place, many changes have been made and they are all good. The first, and most visually obvious, is the jacket. The 2003 edition of the Alexiad featured a figure in mosaic, which the book identified as Alexios Komnenos, as depicted in a 12th c. mosaic in the Hagia Sophia. This isn't entirely wrong, in that the mosaic is of Alexios Komnenos, it's just the wrong one. The figure depicted was Alexios, son of John II Komnenos and heir-apparent until his early death. His mosaic is attached but is rotated 90 degrees from the famous mosaic panel of his parents, making the mis-identification understandable for a badly-informed tourist guide, but not a serious publication. Thankfully, Penguin has fixed this issue and replaced the cover image with a high-quality picture (the coin it is a picture of is about the size of a thumbnail) of one of Alexios I Komnenos' hyperpyra (meaning: fire-refined) coins. The new editor, Oxford's Peter Frankopan has also adopted a more regular transliteration style based upon that used in the The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (3-Volume Set), in place of Sewter's original Latin-based transliteration style. These changes extend into the text as well, which generally seems to be mostly unchanged, although Frankopan's updates allow for more precision. Titles and important Greek terms are left transliterated.

The book's appendices are also much overhauled.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JLuiz Alquéres on December 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is not unusual daughters speaking well about her fathers but , in the Alexiad, Anna add to the undoubt admiration for Alexius ! Commenus a very candid narrative demonstrating the ( cruel) face of the administration at the start of the declining of the Bizance besides the successfull campaigns carried by him.
In fact the West , instead of support, create so many problems for Bizance tha eliminated the possibilities of the survival of an empire that, in some way, assured a rich cultural classical tradition . At least when finished the sages moved to Europe and foster the Renaissance.
A big lesson is that , sometimes, important wars should be carried far away of our territorial boundaries if we want to assure a continuous progress of the civilization.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful By John P. Sander on April 14, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Alexiad is a fascinating view of a critical time both in Byzantine and Western history. Anna Comnena tells the story how her father Alexius I seized the helm of an Empire in complete chaos and how he steered it for almost forty years through very troubled waters. The Byzantine Empire was threatened by Norman Sicily,the Patinaks, Cumans and the Turks. Alexus had limited resources to deal with these great threats and had to use his cunning and courage to defeat them. This is a fascinating book and Anna wrote in flowing and intelligent prose. I only found one flaw which made the book hard at times to read, Anna Comnena's hatred for all things and persons not Byzantine or "Roman". She hated the nomadic Turkic peoples of Asia Minor and the Balkan peninsula but her scorn is most evident in her writing about western Catholics or "Latin's". The is no crime she will not accuse them of, even the eating of babies! It is sad to read how much hatred this woman had for fellow Christians. However, I do recommend the book as long as it read with caution and in light of information from other writers both contemporary to Anna Comnena and modern.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Filip Stuer on March 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As 12-century Byzantine histories go, this is a heavy read with its repetitions and religious invocations. And yet it's also fascinating because this history written by Byzantine princess Anna Comnena (born in the purple, as she won't let you forget) provides a unique insight in the history of Byzantium seen from within. They felt they were the Roman Empire, and looked down on Western Europeans ('Franks') for their greed, duplicity and aggression, at best with 'noble savage' clichés that Europeans themselves have since been using for other groups. There are always wars going on, be it with the Turks, the Normans encroaching from Southern Italy or even the Crusaders. From this history, it transpires that many crusaders were just keen to conquer any territory, Byzantine or Saracene.
I came away from this book with a deeper understanding of the various nuances of the word 'Byzantine': religiosity bordering on fanaticism, cruel palace intrigues (I lost count keeping track of how many people got their eyes gouged out when they fell out of favour) and shrewd double-timing diplomacy in a turbulent world.
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