Biographies of Famous People from Ancient History


Biographies of Famous People from Ancient History, Free online books, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Augustus, Cicero, Cleopatra, Constantine the Great, Julius Caesar, Hannibal, Philip of Macedon, Nefertiti, Plato

 

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Akhenaten, King of Egypt

Aldred, Cyril
Thames and Hudson 1988        Dewey Dec.   932

“The character of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten has provoked more debate than that of almost any other figure of ancient times. Poet, artistic innovator, madman, visionary, reactionary, instigator of monotheism and forerunner of the controversy continues. But who was this god-king, the Christ, or atheist— notorious predecessor of Tutankhamun in the fourteenth century BC? What was the impact on traditional ancient Egyptian society when, after hundreds of changeless years, he overturned the established religion and built a new capital city on the Nile at Amarna. Cyril Aldred reassesses the evidence in a closely argued and forcefully written narrative.” -Book cover

Alexander the Great; The Merging of East and West in Universal History

Wheeler, Benjamin I.
Putnam’s Sons 1900        Dewey Dec.   932

Narrative history of Alexander’s life, from birth to death.

Alexander the Great: The Conqueror

Casati, Giampaolo
Thunder Bay 2004        Dewey Dec.   932

“Since his death, Alexander the Great has been wrapped in a halo of myth and romance, and over the centuries his story has lost none of its fascination. His short life was packed with astonishing, memorable events and one truly extraordinary undertaking – the conquest of the world- and his personality, apparently so radiant and glorious, was in reality both complex and tormented. Alexander’s life seems as much myth and legend as actual history, but amid the anecdotes it is possible to make out the image of the man who nearly achieved a superhuman dream, the conquest of a vast empire in which West and East were to be blended.” -Book cover

Aristotle

Taylor, Alfred E.
Dodge 1912        Dewey Dec.   932

The ancient Greek philosopher’s life and his more important contributions, condensed into a 90-page volume for an early-20th-century series called “The People’s Books”.

Contents: Life and works – The classification of the sciences: scientific method – First philosophy – Physics – Practical philosophy

Augustus; The Life and Times of the Founder of the Roman Empire (BC 63 – AD 14)

Shuckburgh, E.S.
Fisher Unwin 1908        Dewey Dec.   932

“Augustus was the most successful ruler known to us. He found his world, as it seemed, on the verge of complete collapse. He evoked order out of chaos; got rid one after the other of every element of opposition ; established what was practically a new form of government without too violent a breach with the past ; breathed fresh meaning into old names and institutions, and could stand forth as a reformer rather than an innovator, while even those who lost most by the change were soothed into submission without glaring loss of self-respect. He worked ceaselessly to maintain the order thus established, and nearly every part of his great empire had reason to be grateful for increased security, expanding prosperity, and added amenity of life.” -Author’s Preface

Julius Caesar

Froude, James Anthony
Appleton 1899        Dewey Dec.    Biography

Careful study of “the conversion of the Roman republic into a military empire.” Gives a good outline picture of Roman life and conditions at the time of Caesar. – A.L.A. Catalog 1904

Collected books on Ancient Greece

Caesar: Life of a Colossus

Goldsworthy, Adrian
Yale University 2008        Dewey Dec.   932

“in his fifty-six years, Caesar was at times many things, including a fugitive, prisoner, rising politician, army leader, legal advocate, rebel, dictator … as well as husband, father, lover and adulterer.” In this landmark biography, Goldsworthy examines all of these roles and places his subject firmly within the context of Roman society in the first century B.C. Tracing the extraordinary trajectory of Caesar’s life from birth through assassination, Goldsworthy covers not only Caesar’s accomplishments as charismatic orator, conquering general, and powerful dictator but also lesser-known chapters during which he was high priest of an exotic cult, captive of pirates, seducer not only of Cleopatra but also of the wives of his two main political rivals, and rebel condemned by his own country. Ultimately, Goldsworthy realizes the full complexity of Caesar’s character and shows why his political and military leadership continues to resonate some two thousand years later.” -Publisher

Julius Caesar and the Foundation of the Roman Imperial System

Fowler, W. Warde
Putnam’s Sons 1892        Dewey Dec.   932

Julius Caesar “was not the founder, much less was he the organizer of the Roman Empire; yet his life marks a great change in European history. I have tried to show … what this change means, how it was in part the result of pre-existing tendencies, and was due in part to Caesar’s extraordinary force of will and intellect… I have endeavored to treat these as far as possible by the help of contemporary evidence, and chiefly of Caesar’s own writings and those of Cicero, omitting much that we are told by later writers…” – Author’s Preface

Cicero and the Fall of the Roman Republic

Strachan-Davidson, J.L.
Putnam’s Sons 1902        Dewey Dec.   932

“Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher, who served as consul in the year 63 BC. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the Roman equestrian order, and is considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists… His influence on the Latin language was so immense that the subsequent history of prose, not only in Latin but in European languages up to the 19th century, was said to be either a reaction against or a return to his style… Petrarch’s rediscovery of Cicero’s letters is often credited for initiating the 14th-century Renaissance in public affairs, humanism, and classical Roman culture… His works rank among the most influential in European culture, and today still constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for the writing and revision of Roman history, especially the last days of the Roman Republic.” -Wikipedia

Cleopatra

Bradford, Ernle D.S.
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1972        Dewey Dec.   932

“Cleopatra was an intellectual, an astute politician, and a powerful Queen of Egypt, but most people remember her primarily as a seductress. In this illuminating biography, Ernle Bradford suggests that Cleopatra’s prurient reputation was likely manufactured by the conquering Romans to discredit her name after her death. Cleopatra’s whole life was devoted to Egypt. Even though she was probably Greek, not Egyptian, by birth, she was the first of her dynasty to learn the language of the country over which she ruled. Only seventeen years old when she came to the throne in 51 B.C., she watched the savage struggle then raging between Caesar and Pompey and hoped that Rome would destroy itself in the process. Bradford’s detailed exploration of the powers of this legendary queen is captivating and illuminating.” -Publisher

Constantine the Great: The Reorganization of the Empire and the Triumph of the Church

Firth, John B.
Putnam’s Sons 1905        Dewey Dec.   932

“My object has been to tell the story of the life and times of Constantine the Great. Whether he deserves the epithet my readers will judge for themselves… Under his auspices one of the most momentous changes in the history of the world was accomplished, and it is the first conversion of a Roman Emperor to Christianity, with all that such conversion entailed, which makes his period so important and so well worth studying.” -Author’s Preface

Guides to Nonfiction, Bibliographies

Greek Leaders

Hopkinson, Leslie W.
Houghton Mifflin 1918        Dewey Dec.   932

“This book is especially designed for use, in conjunction with a textbook, in high-school classes in ancient history. … It consists of biographies of manageable length which combine attractive literary form with real merit as history.” -Introduction

Contents: Introduction – Solon – Themistocles – Pericles – Alcibiades – Socrates – Agesilaus – Dionysius the Elder – Epaminondas – Demosthenes – Alexander the Great – Aratus – Summary of Greek history

Selected Articles on Ancient History

Hannibal: a History of the Art of War among the Carthaginians and Romans down to the battle of Pydna, 168 BC, with a detailed account of the 2nd Punic War, Vol 1

Volume 2

with 227 charts, maps, plans of battles and tactical maneuvers, cuts of armor, weapons and uniforms

Dodge, Theodore A.
Houghton Mifflin 1891        Dewey Dec.   932

Hannibal Barca (247-ca. 182 B.C.) was a general and statesman from Ancient Carthage who is widely considered one of the greatest military commanders in history. The Second Punic War (between Rome and Carthage) broke out in 218 after Hannibal’s attack on Saguntum, an ally of Rome in Hispania. He then made his famous military exploit of carrying war to Italy by crossing the Alps with his African elephants. He initially won a series of victories in Italy, occupying southern Italy for 15 years, but could not win a decisive victory.

Hannibal, Soldier, Statesman, Patriot; and the Crisis of the Struggle between Carthage and Rome (Heroes of Nations)

Morris, William O’Connor
Putnam 1897        Dewey Dec.    Biography

Nefertiti

Unlocking the Mystery Surrounding Egypt’s Most Famous and Beautiful Queen

Tyldesley, Joyce A.
Viking 1999        Dewey Dec.   932

“We know her from the exquisite painted bust in the Berlin Museum, discovered in 1912, which has made her ancient Egypt’s most recognizable queen and a symbol of her country’s history. Until now, however, she has remained largely unknown and unrecognized for her contributions to Egyptian society. Wife of Akhenaten, the monotheistic pharaoh, adored by her family, blessed by the sun god, and worshiped by her people, Nefertiti suddenly and completely vanished from the record. Was she banished by her husband or raised to rule as his equal? Did she reign, under another name, in her own right? Could she have been the eminence grise behind the young Tutankhamen, her son-in-law? Tyldesley synergizes archeological, textual, and artistic evidence in a detailed discussion of Nefertiti’s life and times at the ephemeral and heretical Amarna court. Nefertiti is a radical re-creation of the woman who was the most influential in the Bronze Age world.” -Publisher

Philip and Alexander of Macedon: Two Essays in Biography

Hogarth, David G.
John Murray 1897        Dewey Dec.   932

Philip II (382-336 B.C.) was the King of Macedonia from 359 to 336 B.C., when he was assassinated. He was a very effective military leader, and as such, apparently a strong influence on his son, Alexander the Great. This volume is divided about equally between the lives of father and son, and appears to focus mainly on their military campaigns.

Collected books on Ancient Rome

Rulers of Ancient Egypt

Roberts, Russell
Lucent 1999        Dewey Dec.   932

“A collection of short biographies from the series “The History Makers”. “Each volume in the series is documented and substantiated by a wide array of primary and secondary source quotations. The primary source quotes enliven the text by presenting eyewitness views of the times and culture …, while the secondary source quotes, taken from the works of respected modern scholars, offer expert elaboration and/or critical commentary.” -Foreword

Contents: An extraordinary civilization – Ancient Egypt – “His Majesty, Herself”: Queen Hatshepsut – Akhenaten: heretic or visionary? – Tutankhamon: Egypt’s most famous pharaoh – Ramses II: Egypt’s greatest pharaoh? – Cleopatra: The end of Egyptian independence

Also see our collection of articles at Biography Articles


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