also, how about just a list of favourite ancient world fiction and non-fiction for the source-impoverished among us, if you've got the time or inclination?
HELL ya, obvs these are heavily biased toward my personal research interests & is like.. in no way comprehensive. also, in no particular order
this is so bad because i literally only seek out bad historical fiction for a laugh but two genuinely good books are
• the golden mean, annabel lyon • i, claudius & claudius the god, robert graves
• laughter in ancient rome (mary beard) is a great tour of roman culture & comedy, particularly in the empire
• confronting the classics (mary beard) is a collection of articles and reviews that’s quite nice, but you could also find each one individually on jstor, And I Am A Bit Miffed that i spent money on it
• alexander to actium (peter green) is the authoritative text on the hellenistic age
• ghost on the throne (james s. romm) is a short read about the diadochi wars and the dawn of the hellenistic age. also? BALLER fucking title
• alexander of macedon (peter green) is the only alexander biography you need to read
• philip ii of macedon (ian worthington) is dry if you don’t like military history, but if you do it’s so fun –> by the spear is the funner version
• into the land of bones (frank l. holt) is a fairly good read about alexander’s bactrian campaign, but check it out from the library, don’t buy it
• alexander’s lovers by andrew chugg is what you’d expect
• cleopatra,DUANE ROLLER. DO NOT read. the schiff.
• mark antony (paolo de ruggiero) is a fucking riot –> patricia southern’s biography by the same title is much more scholarly.
• catullus’ bedspread (daisy dunn) is a biography of my favorite boy
• antony and cleopatra (adrian goldsworthy)
• the patrician tribune (w. jeffrey tatum) is a very good, very scholarly, very technical piece on publius clodius pulcher, whom i love most
• spqr (mary beard) is great if you want a really broad primer to rome
• you’ll be hard pressed to find olympias (elizabeth carney), a dissertation that was printed and circulated to a few university libraries including my own, but it really is the single authoritative text on her life, and it’s fab
• learning latin the ancient way is navigable if you don’t know latin, and it is a F A S CI N A T IN G compilation of ancient workbooks and language acquisition texts along with some great essays & things, and it can help you learn a bit of the language too!
my absolute favorites, POTENTIALLY A BIT DRY if it’s not your area, are:
• in search of the lost testament of alexander the great, a collection of articles by the top scholars of the field
• a companion to ancient macedonia ^ ditto, fucking fascinating
• the many faces of war in the ancient world ^
• ancient historiography on war and empire ^
the life and times of marc antony by arthur weigall, a riotously problematic and biased account of my best boy, published in the 1930s, that i found on a back shelf in the library, sadly collecting dust. first favorite thing: good books. second favorite thing? EXTREMELY bad books
The rightful One and the girl with the violet eyes. The One, who walks through fire and does not burn. The girl, born of the twelve. Their fates mapped together become the fate of the Circle. Through their union, the birthright of the Diadochi is uncovered. The riches of Iskander, the power of Zeus, the means to vanquish the greatest enemies. The One, when it is his, becomes invincible.
Alexander and the Thracian hill-men at Mount Haemus:
After Philip’s death, his son Alexander III (the Great) sought to quell rebellions and secure the Greek mainland and Balkans before launching his campaign against Persia. In 335 BCE Alexander marched toward the area of the sword-bearing hill-men known as the Dii or ‘Free Thracians’, those who remained out of the control of Philip II’s earlier Balkan campaign. Alexander arrived at a narrow canyon called the Trojan Pass where the Dii awaited them from the summit of the Haemus Mountains; here the Dii had assembled their carts into a stockade. If Alexander were to march uphill through a narrow and restrictive path against a fortified and entrenched foe his losses would be more than he would’ve thought acceptable. Instead Alexander assumed that the Dii would become impatient enough to force the carts downhill towards Alexander’s tightly formed phalanxes in attempt to disrupt them then rush downhill from their advantageous position to attack Alexander. Expecting this to occur, Alexander devised a plan.
“he ordered the heavy-armed soldiers, as soon as the wagons began to rush down the declivity, to open their ranks, and directed that those whom the road was sufficiently wide to permit to do so should stand apart, so that the wagons plight roll through the gap; but that those who were hemmed m on all sides should either stoop down together or even fall flat on the ground, and lock their shields compactly together, so that the wagons rushing down upon them, and in all probability by their very impetus leaping over them, might pass on without injuring them.” – The Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian of Nicomedia, book 1.
It went as planned so with no injured soldiers Alexander ordered his archers to repel and cut down the Dii (Thracians) while his phalanx drove them away. In the end the Dii discarded their arms and fled.
“About 1,500 of them were killed; but only a few were taken prisoners on account of their swiftness of foot and acquaintance with the country. However, all the women who were accompanying them were captured, as were also their children and all their booty.” – The Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian of Nicomedia, book 1.
Alexander and the Triballi:
Alexander then marched from the Haemus mountains into the land of the Triballi (Thraco-Illyrians) whose king (Syrmus), women and children sought refuge at Peuce island on the Danube River to the north. The Triballi who remained in their home territory marched south to a river Alexander had crossed that same day and encamped there. Alexander heard of their operations and led a surprise assault against the Triballian camp. Surprised, the Triballi fled to a nearby “woody glen along the bank of the river” (Arrian, II). Alexander, wishing to utilize his horsemen and phalanx which did better on open ground, sent his archers and stone-slingers to harass and lure the Triballi out of the wood. Again, just as expected, Alexander was able to lure the enemy out of their advantageous position. As the Triballi rushed forward to attack the archers, Alexander sent his cavalrymen to charge the Triballi on their left and right flank while he himself led his phalanx and cavalry forward to the Triballian center. This flanking formation forced the Triballi to flee into the wooded glen.
“at length they turned and fled through the woody glen to the river. Three thousand were slain in the flight; few of them were taken prisoners, both because there was a dense wood in front of the river, and the approach of night deprived the Macedonians of certainty in their pursuit. Ptolemy says, that of the Macedonians themselves eleven horsemen and about forty foot soldiers were killed.” – The Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian of Nicomedia, book 2.
With the Balkans subjugated Alexander would go on to employ Thracians, Illyrians and the Paeonians (Thraco-illyrians). In his army these Balkan peoples took on the role of cavalrymen, scouts and skirmishers who would either defend his armies flanks and cavalrymen or harass and shred the enemies’ numbers.
“He excited the Illyrians and Thracians by describing the enemy’s wealth and treasures” – Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus by Marcus Junianus Justinus, 11.9.
“When Alexander had conquered and subdued Thrace and was setting out for Asia, fearing that after his departure the Thracians would take up arms, he took with him, as though by way of conferring honor, their kings and officials — all in fact who seemed to take to heart the loss of freedom. In charge of those left behind he placed common and ordinary persons, thus preventing the officials from wishing to make any change, as being bound to him by favors, and the common people from even being able to do so, since they had been deprived of their leaders.” – Stratagems by Sextus Julius Frontinus, 2.11.3.
During Alexander’s campaigns against the Persians and even after his death, the Thracians continued resisting Hellenistic rule. The resistance continued until the famed Eastern Gallic invasion of the Balkans where these Celts undermined and fractured Hellenistic rule while securing their dominion over Thrace. The Gallic grip on Thrace held until 212 BCE when the Thracian king Pleuratus led an assault on the Gallic capital of Tylis which resulted in the expulsion of the Gauls and the reestablishment of Thracian rule.
I cover this invasion and these eastern Celts in my posts:
GAULS OF THE EAST: PART 1 – BANDITS OF THE BALKANS. In this post I cover the rarely spoken of Gauls of southeastern Europe, their invasion of Greece, employment as mercenaries under Ptolemaic Egypt, their rebellious and warlike society as well as their little known kingdom of Tylis in Thrace. I will also cover their weaponry, armors and some archaeological finds.
GAULS OF THE EAST: PART 2 – HELLENIZED GALATIANS OF ASIA MINOR. In this post cover the Celts who migrated into Asia Minor, established a Greco-Gallic state, became renowned as warriors and mercenaries, played an integral part in the Hellenistic ‘Game of Thrones’ of the Diadochi (Alexander the Great’s successor), ravaged and terrorized the region, as well as forcing “tribute on the whole of Asia west of the Taurus” (Livy, 38.16.12). I’ll also speak about their armors, weaponry and how they may have inspired some Greek and Roman arms as well as some military units.
Head over to my post, ‘THRACIANS, REAPERS OF THE BALKANS’, to learn about their culture, religion, weaponry, armors, battle tactics, and their influence on the ancient world. Their history as well, from the tales in the Iliad to the era of the Greco-Persian Wars, the rise of Macedon under Philip II (Alexander the Great’s father), and the Roman conquests of the Balkans.
I like to imagine that the Nohrian army has a more regimental organization than its Hoshidan counterpart. In particular, I like to think that the army operates similarly to European armies from the late 1400s to the early 1600s (Renaissance, Wars of Religion, etc).
For the rank and file Nohrian, battles are probably formational in nature. Imagine pike and shot warfare- Swiss pikemen, landsknechts, Spanish tercios, etc. Picture rows of halberds and lances interlocked in a tight phalanx, marching and turning in unison. This would be supported by the equivalent of rodeleros- Mercenaries and Fighters- who would form a flexible offensive supporting arm of the infantry corps. Similar to a tercio, fighting blocs would also include a handful of embedded ranged troops- likely Dark Mages and maybe the odd Outlaw (though they’re probably deployed as irregular scouts and spies tbh).
While disciplined infantry presents an indomitable core, the real killing arm of Nohr is it’s mighty cavalry. Swift and heavily armored, they are the hammer to the infantry’s anvil. In a single, well placed charge, they could plow through and crush the enemy between the weight of their charge and the immovable wall of spears of the Nohrian infantry. (In a way, I guess this form of warfare is also similar to that of the Hellenic Diadochi but Nohr’s aesthetic and armament is clearly late Medieval/early modern).
This might be the reason why Leo and Xander seem to be so obsessed with army drills, unit positioning, and formations. The Nohrian army is an efficient killing machine but it breaks down if it’s mishandled. Without discipline and clear command, the Nohrian phalanx breaks down. Without correct support, the pike line is too slow and inflexible and will get cut to shreds by missile fire or get outflanked. Too far outside of the phalanx, and Nohrian mages and Outlaws are vulnerable and outgunned. The cavalry are a mighty and decisive force, but a badly timed charge will get them bogged down and cut into pieces.
In short, Nohr’s military is an army of soldiers run by strict discipline, careful planning, and regimental synergy.
Next time: Hoshido and Muromachi/early Sengoku Jidai warfare (though this’ll prolly take a while and might change because i still need to play Birthright)
Hii :) Do you have any recs for books on the Seleucid empire or the Diadochi and Epigoni in general? I'm a history student, and I studied Ancient Greek history for 2 semesters last year, but my course profs gave us only one good book for the whole post-Alexander epoch. Thanks in advance :)
hullo! okay so conveniently i spent a semester doing a course called after alexander which was literally just diadochi all day every day and i can still get at the course materials, so i’m just going to throw a bunch of titles harvested from the course bibliography at you to see what sticks - it’s been a while since i read literally any of these, though, so if anyone who’s actually looked at this stuff recently has recs plz chip in. it was mostly primary-source-based, which was super fun and involved heavy use of the hellenistic world: from alexander to the roman conquest - a selection of ancient sources in translationby michael austin, which is basically every primary source on the post-alexandrian empire you could ever want. the other textbooks we were assigned (one totally-coincidentally edited by my lecturer lmao erskine u transparent fuck) were a companion to the hellenistic worldand shipley’s the greek world after alexander 323-30bc, which isdown in the handbook as “the best single author synthesis of scholarship on the Hellenistic World”, so
some other general stuff which i remember looking at:
that’s a few titles from the bibliography - it’s broken down by topic so if there’s anything aside from seleucus that interests you i can look for more, but that’s what looks like it might be the most helpful to you for now!
While Dionysius I of Syracuse (ruled, 405-367
BCE), also known as Dionysius the Tyrant, was warring against the Greeks of
Magna Graecia (“Great Greece”, southern Italy) an embassy of
Gauls from northern Italy seeking friendship and allegiance spoke with
him. These Gauls were probably from the Senones tribe since they are mentioned
to have been the same Gauls that lived in northern Italy and sacked Rome not
long ago. Some modern historians believe that said Gauls marched south against
the Romans under the direction of Dionysius I of Syracuse.
The reason for this was so, with Rome preoccupied with the
Gallic menace, Dionysius could freely attempt to subjugate the whole of Sicily
without Roman intervention. Some of those Gauls who warred with Rome were now
in southern Italy and dwelled within the “midst of his enemies”, they
informed Dionysius that they could “be of great service to him, either by
supporting him in the field, or by annoying his enemies in the rear when they
were engaged with him” (Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus
by Marcus Junianus Justinus, 20.5).
In 367 BCE Dionysius I of
Syracuse hired them then sent two thousand Celts and Iberians to Greece in
order to aid the Spartans against the Boeotian League of Greek nations (ex.
Athens, Thebes and Corinth).
“From Sicily, Celts and Iberians
to the number of two thousand sailed to Corinth, for they had been sent by the
tyrant Dionysius to fight in an alliance with the Lacedaemonians, and had
received pay for five months. The Greeks, in order to make trial of them, led
them forth; and they proved their worth in hand-to-hand fighting and in battles
and many both of the Boeotians and of their allies were slain by them.
Accordingly, having won repute for superior dexterity and courage and rendered
many kinds of service, they were given awards by the Lacedaemonians and sent
back home at the close of the summer to Sicily.” – The Library of
History by Diodorus Siculus, 15.70.1.
According to Xenophon, when the Spartans were about to assault the
Thebans, Corinthians, and Athenians near the city of Corinth… “the expedition
sent by Dionysius to aid the Lacedaemonians sailed in, numbering more than
twenty triremes” arrived to aid them. While the cavalrymen on the side of
the Boeotian League were too afraid to attack the larger Spartan army,
the 50 horsemen (Celts and/or Iberians) sent by Dionysius
advanced on the enemy. These few brave cavalrymen scattered themselves and
charged toward the enemy, hurling javelins at their front ranks, retreating
from their advance and then returning to again assail them with javelins.
“ But the horsemen
sent by Dionysius, few though they were, scattering themselves here and
there, would ride along the enemy’s line, charge upon them and throw javelins
at them, and when the enemy began to move forth against them, would retreat,
and then turn round and throw their javelins again. And while pursuing these
tactics they would dismount from their horses and rest. But if anyone charged
upon them while they were dismounted, they would leap easily upon their horses
and retreat. On the other hand, if any pursued them far from the Theban army,
they would press upon these men when they were retiring, and by throwing
javelins work havoc with them, and thus they compelled the entire army,
according to their own will, either to advance or to fall back.
this, however, the Thebans remained but a few days and then returned home, and
the others likewise to their several homes. Then the troops sent by Dionysius
invaded the territory of Sicyon, and they not only defeated the Sicyonians in
battle on the plain and killed about seventy of them, but captured by storm the
stronghold of Deras. After these exploits the first supporting force sent out
by Dionysius sailed back to Syracuse.” – Hellenica by
Head over to my post, ‘GAULS
OF THE EAST: PART 1 – BANDITS OF THE
BALKANS’, to learn more about the rarely spoken of Gauls of southeastern Europe, their invasion
of Greece, employment as mercenaries under Ptolemaic Egypt, their rebellious
and warlike society as well as their little known kingdom of Tylis in Thrace.
You can also read the sequel to the above mentioned post,
OF THE EAST: PART 2 – HELLENISED GALATIANS OF ASIA MINOR’. In this post I
cover the Celts who migrated into Asia Minor, established a Greco-Gallic state,
became renowned as warriors and mercenaries, played an integral part in the
Hellenistic ‘Game of Thrones’ of the Diadochi (Alexander the Great’s
successor), ravaged and terrorized the region, as well as forcing “tribute on the whole of Asia west of the
Taurus” (Livy, 38.16.12). I’ll also speak about their armors, weaponry and
how they may have inspired some Greek and Roman arms as well as some military