Called by Plutarch "the oldest and greatest of Alexander's successors," Antigonos the One-Eyed (382-301 BC) was the dominant figure during the first half of the Diadoch period, ruling most of the Asian territory conquered by the Macedonians during his final twenty years. Billows provides the first detailed study of this great general and administrator, establishing him as a key contributor to the Hellenistic monarchy and state. After a successful career underPhilip and Alexander, Antigonos rose to power over the Asian portion of Alexander's conquests. Embittered by the persistent hostility of those who controlled the European and Egyptian parts of the empire, he tried to eliminate these opponents, an ambition which led to his final defeat in 301. In a corrective to the standard explanations of his aims, Billows shows that Antigonos was scarcely influenced by Alexander, seeking to rule West Asia and the Aegean, rather than the whole of Alexander's Empire. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (2)
More of a military history than you might think...
For anyone interested in immersing themselves into the early Hellenistic period, this book that focuses on the life of Antigonus the One-Eyed is a good place to turn to.I expected a dry scholarly biography and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of space and detail allotted to military and naval campaigns and battles.These battles were interesting in many respects, including the fact there were clever, tactically adept Macedonian generals on either side of the battle matching wits against each other - men who had fought alongside Alexander. The book left me with a vivid impression of the wealth of the Hellenistic kings.Antigonus and the others had access to treasuries crammed with thousands of talents from which they could easily outfit armies and build fleets.
A Definitive Biography of the Most Intriguing Diadochi
This is a remarkably interesting scholarly biography of the man I've always found to be the most interesting of the Successors of Alexander.Antigonus the One-Eyed originally seemed one of the least likely of Alexander's generals to come into the dead King's inheritance, but thanksto his shrewdness, military skill, and the mistakes of others, within tenyears of Alexander's death he had taken control of two-thirds of the deadKing's former realm.Twelve years later, all of the other Successorsunited against him in a great coalition, and Antigonus went down fighting(at the age of 80) at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 B.C.The ancients sawAntigonus's life as a cautionary tale about the dangers of hubris andvaulting ambition; Billows takes a more positive view.
If yourinterest in this book comes from the standpoint of an ancient history buffrather than an academic, you should understand that Billows's book startedout life as a dissertation, and it's really two books in one.The firstbook -- which consists of the first 190 pages -- is essentially awell-researched biography that treats Antigonus's life and career inchronological order.The second book -- consisting of the last 120 pages-- treats Antogonus's foreign relations, economic and social policies,etc., and will be of more interest and utility to scholars.Billows arguesthat Antigonus should be better known not merely because of his dramaticlife story and his status as the founder of the Antigonid line thateventually ruled Macedon from 277-167 B.C., but also because he laid thefoundations upon which Seleucus I built the Seleucid Empire.It seems tome there is some truth to this, but Billows may push the argument fartherthan it can really be sustained, given that Antigonus controlled largeswatches of the area that became the Seleucid Empire for as little as fiveor six years.
The University of California Press is to be commended forincluding excellent maps of the vast area of the Middle East across whichAntigonus played out his life story, as well as including detailed plans ofsuch Diadochoi battles as Paraitakene, Gabiene, and Gaza that show thecomposition of the rival armies in detail.The account of Antigonus'sdramatic struggle with the wily Eumenes of Cardia -- a running series ofbattles and campaigns fought over a huge stretch of the Middle East -- is ahigh point of the book.Finally, the detailed bibliography in Billows'sbook will point the scholar or ancient history buff to numerous otherreferences and scholarly discussions of individual battles and commanders.
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