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Soldier, Priest, and God

A Life of Alexander the Great

F. S. Naiden

$22.95

Paperback

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Oxford University Press
15 October 2020
Whatever we may think of Alexander--whether Great or only lucky, a civilizer or a sociopath--most people do not regard him as a religious leader. And yet religion permeated all aspects of his career. When he used religion astutely, he and his army prospered. In Egypt, he performed the ceremonies needed to be pharaoh, and thus became a god as well as a priest. Babylon surrendered to him partly because he agreed to become a sacred king. When Alexander disregarded religion, he and his army suffered. In Iran, for instance, where he refused to be crowned and even destroyed a shrine, resistance against him mounted. In India, he killed Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus by the hundreds of thousands until his officers, men he regarded as religious companians, rebelled against him and forced him to abandon his campaign of conquest. Although he never fully recovered from this last disappointment, he continued to perform his priestly duties in the rest of his empire. As far as we know, the last time he rose from his bed was to perform a sacrifice. Ancient writers knew little about Near Eastern religions, no doubt due to the difficulty of travel to Babylon, India, and the interior of Egypt. Yet details of these exotic religions can be found in other ancient sources, including Greek, and in the last thirty years, knowledge of Alexander's time in the Near East has increased. Egyptologists and Assyriologists have written the first thorough accounts of Alexander's religious doings in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Recent archaeological work has also allowed scholars to uncover new aspects of Macedonian religious policy. Soldier, Priest, and God, the first religious biography of Alexander, incorporates this recent scholarship to provide a vivid and unique portrait of a remarkable leader.
By:   F. S. Naiden
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 209mm,  Width: 140mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   478g
ISBN:   9780197523339
ISBN 10:   0197523331
Pages:   424
Publication Date:   15 October 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

F. S. Naiden is Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the author of Ancient Supplication, and a former New York subway motorman.

Reviews for Soldier, Priest, and God: A Life of Alexander the Great

An interesting addition to Greek history collections... Recommended. * S.M. Burstein, CHOICE * there is much of value here which scholars will want to consult. * Tony Spawforth, Classics for All * Naiden's book is eye-opening to say the least [...] This book offers a well-written account of Alexander's brief reign as the greatest god in both Europe and Asia [...] Naiden's book is a wonderful glimpse at a long lost world of conquerors, royal marriages, and festivals featuring slightly clothed dancers, bonfires, and libations. Soldier, Priest, and God makes clear all of the reasons why Alexander, who died in Babylon at the age of 32, is remembered in the traditions of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, and Muslims. * New York Journal of Books * Alexander the Great * man, hero or god? He was all three, in different ways and at different times, but of the countless attempts to nail down ancient perceptions of Alexander's metaphysical status, not least his own, Naiden's richly detailed biography is the most exhaustive, the most sophisticated, and the most illuminating by far. * Soldier, Priest, and God is a welcome addition to the already rich literature on Alexander the Great. Naiden has turned the spotlight on an aspect of the ancient world's greatest conqueror that has seldom received the attention it deserves-Alexander's position as an intermediary between the divine world and his people, specifically his army. For Alexander aficionados, this book offers the requisite fare of military and political narrative, artfully presented, while the religious element adds a new dimension to the story of the man and his achievement. * Waldemar Heckel, author of The Conquests of Alexander the Great * It might seem improbable that anyone could have much to say that is new about Alexander the Great, but Naiden has done it * and with gusto. This is a new portrait not of the man as military general, wily politician, flawed human, or exotic explorer, but as religious leader. Naiden places religion back exactly where it should be: central to the experience of the many cultures stretched across the ancient world that Alexander visited and conquered. And in so doing, Naiden has brought us closer to Alexander than we perhaps have ever been before. * A bold new biography explores Alexander's experience of religion and his claim to be the son of an Egyptian god. * Wall Street Journal * Naiden's book is a wonderful glimpse at a long lost world of conquerors, royal marriages, and festivals featuring slightly clothed dancers, bonfires, and libations. Soldier, Priest, and God makes clear all of the reasons why Alexander, who died in Babylon at the age of 32, is remembered in the traditions of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, and Muslims. * New York Journal of Books * An interesting addition to Greek history collections... Recommended. * S.M. Burstein, CHOICE * there is much of value here which scholars will want to consult. * Tony Spawforth, Classics for All * Naiden's book is eye-opening to say the least [...] This book offers a well-written account of Alexander's brief reign as the greatest god in both Europe and Asia [...] Naiden's book is a wonderful glimpse at a long lost world of conquerors, royal marriages, and festivals featuring slightly clothed dancers, bonfires, and libations. Soldier, Priest, and God makes clear all of the reasons why Alexander, who died in Babylon at the age of 32, is remembered in the traditions of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, and Muslims. * New York Journal of Books * Alexander the Great * man, hero or god? He was all three, in different ways and at different times, but of the countless attempts to nail down ancient perceptions of Alexander's metaphysical status, not least his own, Naiden's richly detailed biography is the most exhaustive, the most sophisticated, and the most illuminating by far. * Soldier, Priest, and God is a welcome addition to the already rich literature on Alexander the Great. Naiden has turned the spotlight on an aspect of the ancient world's greatest conqueror that has seldom received the attention it deserves-Alexander's position as an intermediary between the divine world and his people, specifically his army. For Alexander aficionados, this book offers the requisite fare of military and political narrative, artfully presented, while the religious element adds a new dimension to the story of the man and his achievement. * Waldemar Heckel, author of The Conquests of Alexander the Great * It might seem improbable that anyone could have much to say that is new about Alexander the Great, but Naiden has done it * and with gusto. This is a new portrait not of the man as military general, wily politician, flawed human, or exotic explorer, but as religious leader. Naiden places religion back exactly where it should be: central to the experience of the many cultures stretched across the ancient world that Alexander visited and conquered. And in so doing, Naiden has brought us closer to Alexander than we perhaps have ever been before. * A bold new biography explores Alexander's experience of religion and his claim to be the son of an Egyptian god. * Wall Street Journal * Naiden's book is a wonderful glimpse at a long lost world of conquerors, royal marriages, and festivals featuring slightly clothed dancers, bonfires, and libations. Soldier, Priest, and God makes clear all of the reasons why Alexander, who died in Babylon at the age of 32, is remembered in the traditions of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, and Muslims. * New York Journal of Books *


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