Thursday, 31 January 2013

Pyrrhus of Epirus

PYRRHUS of Epirus is remembered mainly for a quote but he was actually an excellent and respected ruler and general.

He spent most of his childhood as a refugee taking refuge first in the court of the Illyrians after his father was expelled by the Molossians. Pyrrhus however had the good fortune as a young adult to eventually be taken in by Ptolemy and trained and educated by this great ruler.

ON regaining his realm he expanded it to include other parts of North west Greece   and defeated the Macedonians in battle and his use of tactics was admired by Greeks and later Romans and Hannibal.

His people called him the eagle but the Eagle must  fly and Pyrrhus blocked to ruling Greece and Macedon turned westwards and took sides with the Tarentines against the Romans planning according to Plutarch to conquer first Italy and Sicily and next Northern Africa and use those conquests and resources to gain control over all of Greece and Macedon.

Yes he lost most of his forces to the Romans but the Roman losses were great too and it was six years before he finally abandoned his attempts to conquer Italy and Sicily and returned to Greece.

Want more details? Read Plutarch's Lives!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Alexander and Geography

When you're studying Alexander's conquests do consider the physical barriers he had to over come and not just of distance.

Take a look at this map.

Alexander's armies and navies had to cross the Mediterranean and the Mountains  of Asia Minor then move across the highlands of Persia and deserts to reach India.

Terrain this diverse also partly explains why his empire broke up into the lesser realms of the Diadochii. Ptolemy wisely claimed Egypt protected by deserts. The Seleucids tried to control Asia Minor and Mesopotomia and further east but lost the east to the Parthians.

One of the most successor Hellenistic era generals were not a Seleucid or Antigonid or Ptolemy. Our next post discusses Pyrrhus of Epirus.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A letter of Philip of Macedon

Aulus Gellius in his Attic Nights quoted a short letter written by Philip of Macedon to Aristotle. He says it was from a collection still extant in his time and cited it to show Philip was a warrior but cultured.

Φίλιππος Ἀριστοτέλει χαίρειν.

Ἴσθι μοι γεγονότα υἱόν. πολλὴν οὖν τοῖς θεοῖς ἔχω χάριν, οὐχ οὕτως ἐπὶ τῇ γενέσει τοῦ παιδός, ὡς ἐπὶ τῷ κατὰ τὴν σὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτὸν γεγονέναι. ἐλπίζω γάρ αὐτὸν ὑπὸ σοῦ τραφέντα καὶ παιδευθέντα ἄξιον ἔσεσθαι καὶ ἡμῶν καὶ τῆς τῶν πραγμάτων διαδοχῆς.

You can read a translation to Latin and English in Rolfe's 3 volume Loeb edition of the Attic Nights.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Macro Long

Macro Long.

We use macro in english with a meaning of greater and larger but in Greek it means LONG, a length in time or space. It has other meanings of tall lofty far distant

Nominative Μακρός μακρά μακρόν

Accusative μακρόν μακράν μακρόν

Genitive μακροῦ μακρᾶς μακροῦ

Dative μακρῷ μακρᾷ μακρῷ  

Friday, 18 January 2013

Alexander's Heirs

Alexander's Heirs

The Other Cleopatras.

 I've mentioned a couple of the Ptolemies but did you know Alexander the Great had a sister called Cleopatra who was Queen of Epirus?

That meant she was ruling over a large chunk of Northern Greece !

If you're teaching or studying the last Cleopatra please think about the other women who bore this name.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A note on kaiper

Although in Greek is καίπερ also translated as and yet though albeit or even.

I pity him even though he is an enemy.

Ἐποικτίρω νιν, καίπερ ὄντα δυσμενῆ

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Heirs of Alexander The Seleucids

Seleukos or Seleucus in Latin was another of the Diadochi generals and commanders who seized part of Alexander's conquered realms after his death.
He was a great city builder founding amongst many other cities teh famous Tetrapolis of Antioch Apamea Laodicea and Seleucia.

As with many other dynasties the first two or three rulers were excellent but then there was a decline. 

Seleucus Nicator  the first shown above started off controlling a vast area of Asia from the Mediterranean coast across to the Indus valley. He traded off the far eastern section of his realm for  trained Indian war elephants.

Persia and other areas were lost to the Parthians but the Seleucid empire had a brief revival and expansion westwards under Antiochus the 3rd who conquered Greece but defeated lost all the lands west of the Taurus mountains.

One of the most interesting queens of the Seleucid dynasty mother and wive to several of them was another Cleopatra, Cleopatra Thea a Ptolemid princess.

Faced with the Roman advance to the West and the rise of the Parthians to the East Seleucid dynasty sadly declined destroying itself with internal conflcit between various heirs and pretenders and cousins until its realm was little more than Syria and the two final rulers was slain by Pompey. 

Syria became a Roamn province and is now once again being fought over but the Seleucids left a legacy of city building and Antioch still stands today.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

What if and Greek Questions.

What if ...

did you know you cant say that in Greek?

I suppose its possible one author directly combines ei and ti but usually Greek conditional statements follow an logical. If  (not) A ... THEN  B pattern.

What if Henry the Eight had more sons and then there was no Queen Elizabeth the First.

What if is a contraction really allowing one statement to replace two.

What would have happened to Elizabeth if Henry had conceived more sons?

Let's demonstrate this in a Hellenic context.

I can say What if the Persians won at Marathon?

A Greek historian or rhetorician would probably phrase this as

If the Persians had won at Marathon (then) what would have happened next?


What (then) would have happened to hellas IF the Persians had won at Marathon.

English tends towards one clause rhetorical questions. Greek tends towards a balance of primary and secondary  or sentences with several clauses.

Something to think about when you're translating.

The differences between syntactical patterns.

What if a statement is technically grammatical in both languages  but just  doesnt sound or read "right" in the other language?

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Alexander's Heirs The Ptolemaic Queens

The Ptolemaic Queens

In Australian schools Ancient and Modern History are separate subjects the sections of the Roman history part of the course focused on "Personalities" Cleopatra of Egypt being one of them.

The text books however rarely go into much details about her being Cleopatra THE SEVENTH.

Yes there were seven other Cleopatras the wives ofEpiphanes and  Philopator and Euergetes Physcon. There were also four Berenices and Arsinoes.

Here's some images of the Ptolemaic Queens.

I hope they'll tempt you to read and learn more about Cleopatra's ancestresses.