Books on Ancient Greece

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Ancient Greece
General Works

Books - Ancient Greece

General Works

The Hydaspes 326 BC – The Limit of Alexander the Great’s Conquests, Nic Fields. Starts with a useful look at the main sources for Alexander and his Indian opponents, and an impressively full examination of the armys on both sides, before moving onto a good account of the last of Alexander the Great’s main battlefield victories, and perhaps his most difficult and hard fought battle, involving the crossing of a major river followed by the defeat of a powerful army based around a large number of elephants (Read Full Review)
Leuctra 371 BC – The Destruction of Spartan Dominance, Murray Dahm. An excellent account of this crucial battle, looking at the four different accounts of the fighting in the ancient sources as well as what we know about the commanders, and the Theban plan of battle, and how that contributed to their victory, and with it the start of the rapid decline of Sparta. Especially strong on the differences between the four sources, where they can be reconciled, and where they can not, and the reasons for the differences, especially in Xenophon (Read Full Review)
Alexander the Great’s Legacy – the Decline of Macedonian Europe in the Wake of the Wars of the Successors, Mike Roberts. Looks at why Macedonia was unable to benefit from the massive Imperial conquests of Philip II and Alexander the Great, which in theory had made it the centre of a massive Empire, but which in practice left the kingdom as something of a backwater, under constant threat of invasion by the rivals clashing over the fragments of Alexander’s Empire, clashes between the different claimants to the Macedonian throne itself, and a devastating invasion by the Gauls (Read Full Review)
The Forty Sieges of Constantinople – The Great City’s Enemies and its Survival, John D Grainger. Looks at all of the attacks on the city known as Byzantion, Constantinople and Istanbul, from the earliest Persian attacks to the First World War, with the bulk of the forty coming during the city’s time as Constantinople, the great eastern capital of the Roman then Byzantine Empires, when the city was one of the most often attacked in the world, but also the most successfully defended, only falling to external enemies twice in a millennium! (Read Full Review)
The Persian War in Herodotus and Other Ancient Voices, William Shepherd. A look at the Persian Wars and the famous battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis and Plataea that focuses on how they are portrayed by Herodotus, and including large sections of his text (complete sections for the main events of the wars), as well as extracts from other ancient sources when they provide extra information. Between the extracts Shepherd provides extra context, looks at how convincing Herodotus’s account is, and searches for possible reasons for the less convincing sections (Read Full Review)
Religion & Classical Warfare – Archaic and Classical Greece, Matthew Dillon, Christopher Matthew, Michael Schmitz. A series of articles looking at the role of religion in ancient Greek warfare, looking at issues as varied as the attitude of the main early Greek historians to the theological issues behind the ideas of fate and predestination, or the way in which oracles and omens could be manipulated to get the required results by altering circumstances or the question you asked! (Read Full Review)
Troy - An Epic Tale of Rage, Deception and Destruction, Ben Hubbard. A thematic examination of the siege of Troy both as told in the Illiad, and how it might fit into what we know of the history of the period. Focuses on what the story of the siege tells us about society and warfare in Bronze Age Greece, and what other sources about the period might tell us about elements of the Illiad. Beautifully illustrated, this book paints a vivid picture of the brutal world of ‘heroic’ era Greek warfare. (Read Full Review)
Ancient Greeks at War – Warfare in the Classical World from Agamemnon to Alexander, Simon Elliott. A useful overview of Greek warfare from the earliest days of the Minoans and Mycenaeans, through the triumphs and tragedies of the Classical and early Hellenistic periods and on to their decline and defeat at the hands of the rising power of Rome. Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great get a great deal of attention (with a chapter each out of the six). A good summary of ancient Greek warfare based on up-to-date research, and with plenty of useful detail despite the long period being covered (Read Full Review)
Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World, Owen Rees. A look at a selection of the most important naval battles from the heyday of Classical Greece, covering the Persian Wars, the Great Peloponnesian War and the Corinthian War, a period dominated by the rise, fall, and partial rise of Athenian naval power. Demonstrates nicely the importance of naval power in all of these wars, as well as the wide variety of naval tactics in use during this period, with some decided by skilful seamanship and the ram, others by boarding actions, while some were effectively won before the first blow was struck (Read Full Review)
Athenian Hoplite vs Spartan Hoplite, Peloponnesian War 431-404 BC, Murray Dahm. Looks at three clashes that involved Spartan and Athenian hoplites during the Great Peloponnesian War, including an unusual battle on an island at Sphacteria, a surprise attack by a daring Spartan commander at Amphipolis and a standard hoplite battle at Mantinea, three of the relatively few direct clashes between Spartan and Athenian land forces. Good accounts of these three battles, combined with a clear understanding of the failings on both sides. (Read Full Review)
War in Greek Mythology, Paul Chrystal. Focuses on the many Greek myths devoted to warfare, from the epic clashes that saw Zeus establish himself as the chief of the gods, through divine role in the semi-mythical human comflicts and on to the satirical ‘war between the mice and the frong’. Acknowledges the complexity of the topic, and the many different versions of most Greek myths, as well as the differing attitudes of the ancient Greeks to their myths(Read Full Review)
Armies of Ancient Greece – c.500-338 BC – History, Organization & Equipment, Gabriele Esposito. A decent military history of classical Greece from the emergence of the Hoplite to the rise of Macedon, along with three chapters looking at the rise of the Hoplite, the actual armies and their equipment, all supported by a vast number of colour pictures of re-enctors in authentic Greek military equipment. Covers a wider period than is often the case, including earlier wars than in many similar books. (Read Full Review)
Women at War in the Classical World, Paul Chrystal . A survey of the role, experiences and attitudes to women in warfare across the Classical world, from the archaic Greek world of Homer to late Roman antiquity, including both real and fictional women and mythological figures. Covers the full range of experience from women as commanders (Cleopatra being the most famous) to women as victims of war, especially in the aftermath of defeat, as well as interesting sections on the attitude of these societies to woman’s role in warfare (Read Full Review)
Ancient Warfare Vol X, Issue 1: Conflict Between Sparta and Athens - The Archidamian WarAncient Warfare Vol X, Issue 1: Conflict Between Sparta and Athens - The Archidamian War Focuses on the Archidamian War, the first ten years of the Great Peloponnesian War, which saw both Athens and Sparta win major victories and suffer costly defeats, before ending in a draw and a short-lived peace. Covers the type of troops involved, the roles of Pericles, Brasidas and Socrates, the siege of Plataea, the temple of Athena Nike and the clash between Sparta and Argos. Also looks at letters written by Roman troops in the eastern desert of Egypt, and the evidence for PTSD in the Roman world [see more]
Antipater’s Dynasty – Alexander the Great’s Regent and his Successors, John D Grainger . A useful study of the short-lived dynasty founded by Antipater, Alexander the Great’s deputy in Macedonia during his great campaign, and continued by his son Cassander, who overthrew Alexander’s dynasty and declared himself to be king of Macedonia. A good choice of topic, filling a gap in the history of the period, and demonstrating just how significant this pair of father and son were in the creation and then the destruction of Alexander’s empire(Read Full Review)
Greek and Macedonian Land Battles of the 4th Century BC, Fred Eugene Ray Jr. Looks at 187 battles fought during one of the most dramatic centuries of Ancient History, a period that started with Sparta the dominant power of Greece and ended with the successors of Alexander the Great squabbling over the ruins of his Empire. An interesting study of a period in which Greek warfare evolved dramatically, ending the dominance of the simple Hoplite army and seeing the rise of cavalry as a battle winning weapon (Read Full Review)
Sparta - Rise of a Warrior Nation, Philip Matyszak. An interesting fast paced history of Sparta, starting with the earliest inhabitants of the site that became Sparta, tracing the rise of the city and the evolution of its unusual institutions, and up to the high point of Sparta’s status, the battle of Plataea, the final defeat of the most dangerous of the Persian invasions of Greece, focusing on the earlier period. (Read Full Review)
Kings and Kingship in the Hellenistic World 350-30 BC, John D Grainger. Looks at the nature of kingship in the years between Alexander the Great and the Roman conquest of the Hellenistic world, a period in which a surprising number of dynasties established themselves, and in some cases even flourished for centuries before disappearing. Organised thematically, so we see how the various dynasties differed, and more often how much they had in common. Also helps to explain how some of these apparently unstable dynasties managed to survive for so long (Read Full Review)
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare IX Issue 2: Struck with the Club of Hercules - The ascendancy of Thebes. Of the many states that dominated Ancient Greece, Thebes probably had both the most dramatic and shortest time in charge, running from their victory over the Spartans at Leuctra in 371 BC to the death of Epaminondas at Mantinea in 362 BC, but this decade changed the balance of power in Greece permanently. This issue focuses on those ten years, looking at the key figures and the key battles. Away from that looks at Roman tombstones, and the idea that Rome and China might have had contacts [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare IX Issue 5: At the Point of a Sarissa - Warriors of the Hellenistic Age Focuses on the soldiers of the Hellenistic era, a period in which vast multinational armies competed for control of the Empire of Alexander the Great, while smaller powers attempted to maintain some form of independence, before all were swallowed up by Rome and Parthia. Mainly focuses on the soldiers themselves, but also has some interesting articles on the wider period, as well as a look at disease in the Roman army and on Hadrian's Wall. [see more]
Early Iron Age Greek Warrior 1100-700 BC, Raffaele d'Amato and Andrea Salimbeti. Looks at the period between the heroic warriors of Homer and the rise of the Hoplite, a fairly obscure period where the bulk of the evidence comes from contemporary artworks or archaeological remains (and which only contains one certain major war, the First Messenian War). As a result the book focuses largely on reconstructing the changes in military equipment over this 400 year period, which ended with the first evidence of the hoplites [read full review]
In the Name of Lykourgos – The Rise and Fall of the Spartan Revolutionary Movement 243-146BC, Miltiadis Michalopoulos. Looks at the last desperate attempts to restore the power of Sparta, nearly a century and a half after her defeat at Leuctra was followed by a collapse of Spartan power. Three Spartan rulers, Agis IV, Cleomenes III and Nabis, made revolutionary attempts to increase the power of the Spartan army and to return Spartan society to a perceived golden age, but these efforts ended in military defeat, occupation and eventually permanent conquest by the Romans. [read full review]
Pylos and Sphacteria 425 BC, William Shepherd . Looks at one of the most significant Athenian victories of the Great Peloponnesian War, most notable for the unexpected surrender of a large number of full Spartiates. Covers the overall campaign, the Spartan attack on the Athenian camp on Pylos, the naval battle that isolated a force of Spartans on the island of Sphacteria and the amphibious assault that forced them to surrender. All supported by excellent photos of the local area, which really help set the scene [read full review]
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The Spartan Supremacy 412-371 BC, Mike Roberts and Bob Bennett. . Looks at the short spell between the end of the Great Peloponnesian War and the battle of Leuctra where Sparta's political power matched her military reputation. The authors look at how Sparta proved to be politically unequal to her new position, and how this period of supremacy ended with Sparta's military reputation in tatters and her political power fatally wounded. [read full review]
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Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VIII Issue 4. The Ancient World's Fragile Giant - The Seleucid Empire at war. Looks at the largest of the successor states to the Emperor of Alexander the Great, the impressive empire created by Seleucus and maintained against great pressure for two centuries before eventually falling to Roman pressure. [see more]
Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VII Issue 5 . Trapped Behind Enemy Line - The March of the Ten Thousand . Focuses on the escape of a large force of Greek mercenaries who found themselves trapped in the middle of Persia after supporting the wrong side in a civil war. Famous as the topic of Xenophon's Anabasis, this is a fascinating campaign. [see more]
Early Aegean Warrior 5000-1450 BC, Raffaele d'Amato and Andrea Salimbeti. Looks at the weapons, armour, tactics and possible warfare in the Cycladic culture of 3,200-1,100 BC, early Cyprus and Minoan Crete. Packs a great deal of information into 64 pages to produce a very impressive overview of this early period of Greek history [read full review]
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Try Ancient Warfare magazine for 6 months. Click to subscribeAncient Warfare Volume VIII Issue 2 . War, Trade and Adventure: Struggles of the Ionian Greeks. Focuses on the Ionian Greeks and in particular the cities of western Anatolia, looking at their struggles for independence against Lydia and Persia, their place in the wider Greek world, and their earlier fame as mercenaries. Also looks at some of Alexander's decisions, the 'right-bearing' legionaries and the evidence for a Roman invasion of Ireland.. [see more]
Henchmen of Ares: Warriors and Warfare in Early Greece, Josho Brouwers. Looks at warfare during the Mycenaean period, the Greek Dark Ages, the rise of the Hoplite and the Persian Wars. Supported by good full colour photos and illustrations, this is an interesting look at a less well known period of Ancient Greek history. [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue I: Deserters, Defectors, Traitors: Betrayal in the ancient worldAncient Warfare Vol VIII, Issue I: Deserters, Defectors, Traitors: Betrayal in the ancient world. Looks at a range of famous traitors in the Ancient World, stretching from the Biblical David up to Cataline's Revolt during the late Roman Republic, and a variety of types of betrayal, from internal revolt to siding with external enemies.. [see more]

Ancient Warfare Vol VII, Issue 2: Struggle for control: Wars in ancient Sicily. Focuses on the series of wars between Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and native Sicilians that turned Sicily into a battleground in the centuries before the eventual Roman conquest, with good coverage of the wars between the Greek and Punic settlers and the tyrants that ruled for so long. Also looks at Roman ownership marks, attempts to avoid service in the Legions and Alexander's victory at the Granicus. [read full review]
Greece and Rome at War, Peter Connolly. An excellent military history of Ancient Greece and Rome, including an outline of military events and a detailed examination of the organisation and equipment of the armies of the period, based on a mix of documentary evidence, art and archaeology, hands-on reconstructions and visits to the battlefields. [read full review]
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Ancient History Magazine Vol V Issue 6: Clad in gold and silver: Elite units of the Hellenistic Era. Five articles examining elite troops in the successor states to the empire of Alexander the Great, the reign of Mithridates VI of Pontus, as well as a look at a depiction of Trajan, and a possible Roman siege at Burnswark in southern Scotland. [read full review]
The Persian Invasions of Greece, Arthur Keaveney. Fairly short but informative account of the famous campaigns of Darius and Xersex, written by an expert on ancient Persia and so with a rather different tone and emphasis than most books on this subject. Also covers the Ionian revolt and the build-up to the war in more detail than is often the case. [read full review]
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Sparta at War, Scott M. Rusch. A study of the rise, dominance and fall of Sparta, the most famous military power in the Classical Greek world. Sparta dominated land warfare for two centuries, before suffering a series of defeats that broke its power. The author examines the reasons for that success, and for Sparta's failure to bounce back from defeat. [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Magazine: Volume IV, Issue 5, Fighting for the Gods: Warfare and ReligionAncient Warfare Vol IV, Issue 6: Royal Stalemate: Hellenistic kingdoms at war. An examination of the long series of wars between the successor states to Alexander the Great, often seen as a series of futile wars that only ended when Macedonia, Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Empire were swept away by the Romans. [see more]

2 The Field Campaigns of Alexander the Great, Stephen English. Completing a three volume study of the campaigns of Alexander the Great, this final book looks at his pitched battles and field campaigns. Combines a detailed examination of the sources with an attempt to produce coherent battle narratives. The discussion of the sources allows the reader to judge the success of the author's own narratives.   [read full review]
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The Tyrants of Syracuse: War in Ancient Sicily Volume I: 480-367 BC, Jeff Champion. A study of the military history of ancient Sicily, from the battle of Himera in 480 BC to the death of Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse, in 367 BC. This period saw the Greeks of Sicily fight the Carthaginians, the invading Athenians, the natives Sicilians, and perhaps most frequently each other [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Magazine: Volume IV, Issue 4, Darkness descends: End of the Bronze Age EmpiresAncient Warfare Magazine: Volume IV, Issue 4, Darkness descends: End of the Bronze Age Empires. Focuses on the collapse of the Bronze Age empires of the Eastern Mediterranean, a period that saw the Hittite and Mycenaean civilisations disappear and Egypt come under serious pressure. Also looks at unusual tactics in Greek battles, metal working and the Imperial Roman Fleet. [see more]

The Sieges of Alexander the Great, Stephen English. Part of a three-part series looking at Alexander the Great, this volume focuses on his many sieges, from the early days in Greece to the famous sieges of Tyre and Gaza and on to the mountain top forts at the far east of the Persian empire and the cities of India [read full review]
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Ancient Warfare Vol IV, Issue 2, Blockade and Assault: Ancient siege warfareAncient Warfare Vol IV, Issue 2, Blockade and Assault: Ancient siege warfare. Six widely spread articles on siege warfare, looking at Thucydides' accounts of sieges, the defences of Spartan, the sieges of Alexander the Great, Punic Fortifications, Masada and the siege of Jerusalem, giving a good overview of the development of the siege during the Ancient world. [see more]
The Wars of Alexander's Successors, 323-281 BC: Volume II: Battles and Tactics, Bob Bennett and Mike Roberts. A look at the better documented battles fought by the successors of Alexander the Great that helps to show how skilled they were as commanders in their own right. Also has good sections on the armies themselves, sieges, naval warfare and border warfare. A useful look at the battles that helped shape the ancient world after the disruption caused by Alexander [read full review]
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From Democrats to Kings, Michael Scott. A hugely entertaining account of the tumultuous century between the defeat of Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War and the aftermath of the death of Alexander the Great, a period that saw the city states of ancient Greece lose their independence, and come under the rule of the great Hellenistic kingdoms. [read full review]

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Lost Battles: Reconstructing the Great Clashes of the Ancient World, Philip A.G. Sabin. This book is an interesting but most unusual attempt to reconstruct some of the famous battles of the Ancient World. In many cases we have limited information or the sources we have contradict each other, so Sabin has created a simple war gaming system in an attempt to see which of our sources is most credible. [see more]
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