Monday, May 21, 2012


This is the post you can read between work tasks that will enhance your well being. It will help you sit up straighter. It will relieve the burning feeling in your eyeballs. You may feel more peaceful and alert while reading. Headache and sinus pressure will recede. It will refresh your spirit. After reading you will be able to take up your work with a clear mind and a firm will.

I think allergy season is hitting me a bit hard.

The Hellenistic Age was good information even though most of it rolled off my duck's back brain. But at least I sort of know who the Ptolemies are now. That's the clan that took over Egypt after Alexander the Great croaked and his generals fought over control of the various part of his empire. The Ptolemies became well established and, very importantly, never amassed enough regional power to be a threat to the other generals. They had a longer run than many of the other post-Alexander groups who chased each other around. What a bunch of brawlers. I thought the Medicis were vicious but this slice of history shows plenty of interfamily assassination as the common path to power. Back to the Ptolemies, that's who Cleopatra was, the Ptolemy du jour who worked those Romans to see if she could come out on top. There's lots of interfamilial marriage to consolidate power. And family names were recycled over and over. The family trees are very confusing. The author writes with great confidence about all these squirrelly characters. I really don't know how he can be so sure about their motivations but he is very convincing and it was a good reading experience.

Now I'm reading Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks which isn't as well written but still is holding my interest. I'm looking forward to Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Ancient Athens. And that should probably do me for ancient Greece for a while.

Yesterday I finished HHhH which is a book about an assassination attempt on the life of the Nazi governor of occupied Prague 1942. Much of this history was new to me. I hadn't really realized where Moravia and Bohemia were. The book is at the same time a discussion of the difficulty of writing a true history and the temptation to invent and fictionalize what can never be known. The book is written with many tiny chapters. It's one of my favorite ways to read, like eating a big meal made up of tiny, tasty hors d'oeuvres.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

Have you read Mary Renault's 'Alexander Trilogy'? I like Mary Renault a lot, though I guess perhaps she's a bit old fashioned now, and perhaps some of the research and theories might have been superseded, but the period detail and the story are always neck and neck, it's really vivid; someone somewhere said the past never loses its 'alien glitter' with her. The third volume is all about after the death of Alexander, which ought to be boring and I must say I couldn't tell you a lot of the detail of it now, but the story so far has such momentum that you still go on wanting to know what happened. I took it in one volume as a beach read on a Greek holiday years ago, it was great.