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The Hellenistic Age: A Short History (Modern Library Chronicles) [Hardcover]

Peter Green
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 3, 2007 067964279X 978-0679642794 1st. Ed
The Hellenistic era witnessed the overlap of antiquity’s two great Western civilizations, the Greek and the Roman. This was the epoch of Alexander’s vast expansion of the Greco-Macedonian world, the rise and fall of his successors’ major dynasties in Egypt and Asia, and, ultimately, the establishment of Rome as the first Mediterranean superpower.

The Hellenistic Age chronicles the years 336 to 30 BCE, from the days of Philip and Alexander of Macedon to the death of Cleopatra and the final triumph of Caesar’s heir, the young Augustus. Peter Green’s remarkably far-ranging study covers the prevalent themes and events of those centuries: the Hellenization of an immense swath of the known world–from Egypt to India–by Alexander’s conquests; the lengthy and chaotic partition of this empire by rival Macedonian marshals after Alexander’s death; the decline of the polis (city state) as the predominant political institution; and, finally, Rome’s moment of transition from republican to imperial rule.

Predictably, this is a story of war and power-politics, and of the developing fortunes of art, science, and statecraft in the areas where Alexander’s coming disseminated Hellenic culture. It is a rich narrative tapestry of warlords, libertines, philosophers, courtesans and courtiers, dramatists, historians, scientists, merchants, mercenaries, and provocateurs of every stripe, spun by an accomplished classicist with an uncanny knack for infusing life into the distant past, and applying fresh insights that make ancient history seem alarmingly relevant to our own times.

To consider the three centuries prior to the dawn of the common era in a single short volume demands a scholar with a great command of both subject and narrative line. The Hellenistic Age is that rare book that manages to coalesce a broad spectrum of events, persons, and themes into one brief, indispensable, and amazingly accessible survey.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Although the Hellenistic Age flourished for barely 300 years, its contributions to world history are countless. Eminent historian Green—whose classic Alexander to Actium remains the most expansive and thorough introduction to the period—offers a marvelous survey of the key people, places and events of the years from 337 B.C., when Alexander came to power, to the death of Cleopatra in 30 B.C. Nimbly weaving history and cultural insights, Green chronicles how Alexander led Macedonia through heroism and canny political alliances. After Alexander's death, power was divided between the Ptolemies, who ruled Egypt, and the Seleucids, who ruled Greece, marking the beginning of the end of the Greek city-states that had been the hallmark of the classical Greek age. The civic masculine bonding so pervasive in Alexander's day was replaced by the familial bonding of husband and wife. Science replaced poetry and comedy replaced tragedy as the cultural hallmarks of society. Yet much remained the same: aristocratic rulers still used slaves to do their fighting for them, and monarchs still defied attempts to bring democracy into government. Green's splendid little study (a new entry in Modern Library's Chronicles series) provides a brilliant introduction to this crucial transitional period. (Apr. 10)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The arbitrary dates usually given for the Hellenistic Age--323 BCE to 31 BCE--encompass the period from the death of Alexander the Great to the defeat of the last independent Hellenistic ruler, Cleopatra of Egypt. The age saw an explosion of Greek culture and political domination across the vast empire conquered by Alexander. Professor Green has written a valuable survey of a violent, confusing, but culturally rich era. As Green makes clear, Alexander's hope for a politically united empire based on a cultural fusion between Greek and Persian traditions was dashed. Instead, his empire quickly disintegrated and was replaced by a series of kingdoms, most ruled by his former generals and their descendants. Culturally, these kingdoms could best be described as possessing a veneer of Greek language and traditions adhered to by the top levels of society, while the masses below remained wedded to their native languages and customs. Although Green essentially uses a chronological approach, he also concentrates on several common themes, including the evolution of the polis and the constant tension and forms of interaction between Greek and non-Greek. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Chronicles
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; 1st. Ed edition (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067964279X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679642794
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,422,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Green lives by the Solent, and loves sailing and kite surfing. Having spent time in the military and in business, he is now an appraisal manager for a leading CV & Career Consultancy.
His writing and editing experience focus on imparting information, including detailed technical manuals, policies and procedures for the military and for global corporations. He is the author of the ILO (UN) Code of Practice for the Security of Ports, and more recently has produced CV appraisals, interview preparation, career and job hunting information, and advice and help for people in all walks of life, all over the world.

Philosophy: Persevere and Persist

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, easy read; awesome appendices February 7, 2009
Peter Green has crafted a very readable and well-rounded history of the Hellenistic Age in the eastern Mediterranean, from the death of Alexander to Rome's conquest of the squabbling Greek kingdoms. It is nice to see such an accessible, cheap volume put out by a major historian in the field. The reason that I don't give it 5 stars is because at times it feels extremely rushed. A lot of detail is sacrificed, and trying to follow some events is mind boggling.

While the book itself is good, the real reason to own this volume is for the appendices. There are some excellent tables depicting the very convoluted family trees of the various Hellenistic dynasties. The Ptolemy tree is an especially welcome addition. The maps are nothing terribly special, but there are a number of them and they're crisp, clear and easy to read. (The Aegean one is a little squished, but it is well-labeled.) The chronological table is also wonderful for making sense of this fast-paced era.

This book is more than worth its price tag for an introduction into the era. More advanced students will want to look at Dr. Green's 'Alexander to Actium', but this little book has a lot of good stuff inside.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Concise Rendition of a Transitional Age August 5, 2007
As the title suggests ("A Short History") this treatment of the period sacrifices depth for brevity. Not being familiar with the subject I enjoyed this well-written introduction. Not only is the book a good first overview, it has plenty of notes geared towards further study and a short guide to further reading indicating what the author considers current best texts--as well as the usual bibliography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent summary January 28, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Many years ago the author wrote a massive scholarly history of this era. I was always interested in the subject but too intimidated by the size of that book to start reading it. The new version is brief but not at all dumbed down. Political and military events are treated diachronically with causes and effects made apparent. A bit rushed at times, but otherwise wonderfully clear. The searchable kindle version also makes a great reference text,
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book, could have used more maps April 10, 2013
Peter Morris Green is a British classical scholar, who is well known for his books on the Hellenic and Hellenistic Ages. In this book, he presents the Hellenistic Age (roughly 336 BC to 30 BC) in a short and easily digested form, a quick introduction for the armchair historian.

Overall, I found this to be a pretty good book. The author did do a good job of presenting the history - keeping it short and yet easy to understand. Now, as you might expect with such a book, a lot of details are bound to be missing. I mean, to keep it as short as possible, there are a lot of things that cannot possibly be discussed.

But, that said, I did enjoy my time with this book, and I think I did learn a lot. (I never really studied the Hellenistic Age before.) My only complaint is that I wish that the author had included some more maps - I found it hard to truly understand the rise and the fall of the Successors (to Alexander) without some visual cues. Nonetheless, it is a good book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Gderf
After the death of Alexander the book covers the Lamian war and other struggles as the successors sorted themselves into the three surviving states of the Macedonian, Seleucid and Ptolemaic dynasties of Europe, Asia and Egypt. It then goes into the three century decline as they fought each other and vainly tried to stem the rising power of Rome. There's an excellent history up to the battle of Actium and the demise of the Ptolemaic state, last of the Hellenistic successors to Alexander. For good measure Green includes an excellent short history of the role of Roman involvement as the rise of Roman military might and the decline of the Hellenistic kingdoms was coincident with the demise of the Republican form of government in Rome

The book contains a fine complete chronology, maps and three good, albeit incomplete, family trees. Antigonids, Attalids and other important non survivors are omitted. Green is impressive in sorting out the myriad of relationships. It's a lot of densely packed history in a short volume. This might be the best historical trace from Alexander to Rome.

There is a reference in the bibliography to 'Alexander to Actium' by the same author. That's exactly the same period as the current book. If this is a second try it works well.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Green's 'Hellenistic Age' December 30, 2009
It's very hard to write gripping history, but Green here succeeds. He gives an appropriate median of history and soap opera in retelling the story of the post-Alexandrian dynasties. Green is frankly an excellent writer. His hundred-page introduction to the Hellenistic age is a pleasure to read. The work is also supplemented with a lengthy chronology, maps and a few genealogies. This is great classical writing, have no doubt.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The author attempted something quite difficult: to cover several millennia of important history told for a lay reader. Considering this I congratulate him for keep my interest throughout.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Quickly, The Fall of Greece May 8, 2014
As is indicated by the other reviews, this is an admirable but difficult to love book on the transition from Alexander the Great's empire to the fall of the Roman Republic. Green generally recounts dynastic successions, political alliances, strategic marriages, and marching armies, but 300 years of history in 130 pages is both overwhelming in scope and underwhelming in detail. Significant themes, such as the decline of the city-state as the governing norm in the ancient world and the Greek cultural disdain for economic activity, appear briefly but explanatory passages like these are rare. In Green's defense, the book's shortcomings are most likely a result of the project, not the author himself. Readers disappointed with the text can scour the bibliography and guide to further reading for more substantive works.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Dense - not for amateurs
I am of two minds of Green's _The Hellenistic Age_. On the one hand, he provides exquisite detail in the political manueverings during and following Alexander's reign, and his... Read more
Published 11 months ago by doc peterson
3.0 out of 5 stars Focused exclusively on political history
"The Hellenistic Age: A Short History" by Peter Green is a somewhat disappointing survey of the history of the eastern Mediterranean from Alexander to the fall of Ptolemaic Egypt. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Doktor Faustus
5.0 out of 5 stars a little hurried but still interesting
Sometimes this book is a bit overloaded with names and dates, but it is still interesting, and tells a coherent story: between the death of Alexander the Great and the rise of the... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Michael Lewyn
2.0 out of 5 stars Series of names and events, and only a few remarks about social...
The first third of the book is about the Diadochi Wars: Alexander's successors fighting each other for pieces of the territory that Alexander had won. Read more
Published on March 15, 2012 by Jordan Bell
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for the uninitiated
This book is definitely a "Short History" and not an introduction to the Hellenistic Age, because it takes a lot of prior knowledge for granted. Read more
Published on November 4, 2011 by C. Hogan
4.0 out of 5 stars ...still looking for that perfect book on the Hellenistic Era
Having just read and struggled with Peter Green's much larger 1992 book on the same subject, "Alexander to Actium", I decided to read this book. Read more
Published on June 5, 2011 by Howard Schulman
1.0 out of 5 stars This is a novel not a history book
When I ordered this book I thought that I was going to purchase a History book. I was interested to figure out what happened during an era that influenced profoundly the western... Read more
Published on April 24, 2010 by GStam
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