Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death

Random. Aug. 2019. 496p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780425286524. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780425286548. BIOG
Everitt (performing & visual arts, Nottingham Trent Univ., England; Cicero) continues his tradition of popular biographies of classical figures, this time featuring Alexander the Great (d. 323 BCE). The enjoyable and highly readable narrative spans the rise of Macedonia in the decades preceding Alexander’s birth, the foundations built by his father, Philip II of Macedon, and the young conqueror’s staggering successes across multiple continents. Frequent excerpts from classical authors and asides into Hellenic culture provide hooks for beginning readers to explore further. But other details will niggle at more serious readers of the period: Everitt struggles with the difference between xenia (guest-friendship rules enforced by Zeus) and philia (committed love felt between friends) and imputes too much explanatory power to erastes/eromenos relationships (a form of pederasty governed by nuanced social conventions). Yet the only significant flaw is Everitt’s emphasis on speculating about Alexander’s untimely and surprising death, which he considers compellingly, but his conclusions are ultimately neither novel nor substantiated better than those of other biographers, ancient or modern.
VERDICT This work will appeal to fans of “Great Men” biographies, initiates in classical studies, and Everitt’s numerous followers.

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