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The Alexiad (Penguin Classics) Paperback – September 29, 2009
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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.Read more ›
Excellent book for history buffs and people looking for examples of great leadership.
But Anna is a biased source. Her scorn of the enemies of Byzantium should be considered. Here are a couple examples of her selective testimony. The introduction of Robert Guiscard and Pope Gregory VII is a little too concise and filled with much prejudice. The story that she gives of Robert Guiscard's rise to power may or may not be true, but she certainly left out the more important acts of Robert. She also neglects to mention that Robert Guiscard had driven Byzantium out of Italy only 7 years earlier. This is what lead to Emperor Michael VII Ducas suing for peace with Robert with the marriage proposal. Late in the book, she professes the greatness of her mother Irene, saying that Alexius never let her leave his side.Read more ›
I'm really not sure what I was expecting. If you're a scholar or hugely interested in Byzantine history around the 11th century, then this is a good choice, full of battle facts and city locations. Otherwise, it's pretty slow reading. There are some bits that are interesting insights into the character and views of the author herself (which is rare and interesting, considering when she wrote her history) but unfortunately, most of the book is a very dry recitation of facts.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Alexiad is history which relates events without much insight. The author is daughter to the subject, with consequent lack of perspective.Published 14 days ago by Lothringen
The Alexiad is the Iliad of Byzantium. It reads like a novel, but is a history by Anna Komene the daughter of Emperor Alexius I of Constantinople (the famous emperor during The... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Susan E. Gassler
Great source material that gives invaluable insight concerning the crusader period.Published 5 months ago by Mandi
The Alexiad is a great incite into what was happening around the Byzantine Empire at the time.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
The translator does and excellent job and Anna seems quite candid in her writing.Published 8 months ago by L M Pistor
This book is not for everyone. It is a history of a Byzantine emperor written by his daughter, Anna Commena, over a 1000 years ago originally in Greek and translated into English. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Henry