- Taschenbuch: 624 Seiten
- Verlag: Penguin Classics; Auflage: Revised ed. (6. August 2009)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0140455272
- ISBN-13: 978-0140455274
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 12,9 x 2,7 x 19,7 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 254.042 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Alexiad (Penguin Classics) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 6. August 2009
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This is a revised edition of Anna Komnene's "Alexiad", to replace our existing and aged 1969 edition. This is the first European narrative history written by a woman - an account of the reign of a Byzantine Emperor through the eyes and words of his daughter which offers an unparalleled view of the Byzantine world in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Anna Komnene (1083-1156) was the eldest child of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos. She is best known as the author of The Alexiad - written between 1143-53, it is the first major history written by a woman.
Dr Peter Frankopan is a Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford. He has just completed a major monograph for CUP about Byzantium in the 11th and 12th century based on the Alexiad.
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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. Rather than work too hard, the original 'Alexiad' borrowed a few appendices from Sewter's earlier translation of Michael Psellos' Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Penguin Classics). The essays on Greek fire and the Byzantine navy are gone, which is fine because they both include much old scholarship. Instead, a table of relevant Byzantine rulers, popes, and patriarchs is included, as well as stemmata of the Doukas and Komnenos families. The real valuable addition lies in Frankopan's excellent notes. For a Penguin Classic this is exceptional, as they are usually rather bare when it comes to notes. While Frankopan's explanatory notes hardly make this a serious commentary, they are useful for understanding Anna's classical references and the context when she fails to explain herself or is being deliberately manipulative. A glossary is also provided. Such an addition is absolutely essential, as many titles are now just transliterated in the text itself. While the entries are brief, they are sufficient. Frankopan also includes a bibliographic essay at the start of the text which provides a useful summary of the most recent and important scholarship.
This new edition of the 'Alexiad' includes some very useful support materials. It is one of the finest Penguin Classics in print, and easily replaces Sewter's original version.
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. While she tells the tenderness in which Irene treats him, Anna fails to mention that Irene had been conspiring to have Anna's husband replace Anna's brother John as heir. This desire Anna shared and did not want to write about after the failed assassination attempt on John and later confinement by him.
The Alexiad is also frequently confusing as Anna's lack of knowledge causes her to misrepresent information, incorrectly identify people, and leave out relevant information. Reading the Alexiad without knowledge of the period is not recommended. Fortunately, this book comes with good footnotes which help the reader by pointing out where Anna is wrong and filling in the gaps in her story. I have increased my rating one star because of his efforts. And despite her failing, the Alexiad does provide a historical record from the Byzantine side and present the story of an incredible versatile emperor.
If you are interested in the time period in which Anna writes, I recommend Byzantium: The Decline and Fall by John Julius Norwich or A History of the Crusades Vol. I: The First Crusade and the Foundations of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Volume 1) and A History of the Crusades: Volume II The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East, 1100-1187 by Stephen Runciman and First Crusade by Thomas Asbridge for coverage of the Crusades.
I came away from this book with a deeper understanding of the various nuances of the word 'Byzantine': religiosity bordering on fanaticism, cruel palace intrigues (I lost count keeping track of how many people got their eyes gouged out when they fell out of favour) and shrewd double-timing diplomacy in a turbulent world.
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