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The Alexiad of Anna Comnena

de Anna Comnena

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Afegit fa poc perRennie90, AnthonyTFS, cgs97, gcolvin, jose.pires
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Es mostren 1-5 de 10 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Surprisingly modern and enjoyable to read. ( )
  ShaneBX | Feb 4, 2020 |
Anna Comnena's history of the reign of her father, the Emperor Alexius. After a while, the sheer blizzard of invasions, rebellions and betrayals gets to be a trifle overwhelming, and with so many characters changing sides, getting blinded, or whatnot, one can be forgiven, I think, if one is confused. You certainly get an insight into how, well, Byzantine the Byzantine Empire was. Bitter old woman in her dotage. ( )
  EricCostello | Sep 29, 2019 |
An intimidating read. I'd given up on this several times before now and this time I only got over a major hump by it being the only book on hand when I had to spend a night waiting in the emergency room. The book can often become less a narrative and more a numbing parade of seiges and names. I find it difficult to imagine why anyone would want to become emperor at all, you would never have a moment's peace.

Dry or not this is still an immensely valuable source of information on the First Crusade and the conflicts between the West and the near East in this critical time period. Because Anna as the eldest daughter of the Emperor was there and at the center of power. Luckily, too, it does reward the casual reader. Anna, despite her frequent protestations otherwise, is biased towards her golden parents and can be over-the-top in her condemnations and defenses, but that is what made parts of 'The Alexiad' come alive.

Reading this makes it clear how very different, how very Roman, the Byzantines still were and how vast the gap between them and what was becoming Europe really was. and there are often reminders that this history wasn't written by your average chronicler, but by a woman exiled to a remote island monastery, cut off from everything and everyone she knew. The reasons for this are vague: a backfired bid for power, a broken promise. She also slips several anecdotes, usually while defending her parent's characters, that reveal the personality behind the names and deeds. My favorite was when she described a conversation she had with her mother about a particularly dense theological writer: Anna can make no headway with it, but her mother reassures her of its value. A simple story, but real in a way that doesn't often survive nearly 900 years.

This has sat on my shelf for a long time. I bought it around the time I decided I would be studying history in college. Isaac Asimov had referred to Anna and 'The Alexiad' in his 'Constantinople: The Forgotten Empire'* and I had been intrigued, so it was a pleasant surprise to come across it. Bookstores still amaze me. An ultimatum to read every book I owned or get rid of it supported by many breaks is what finally got me through the book. This book does offer something to the casual reader but they will have to work hard to get through to it.

*Asimov's junior histories are a nice read if you can find them. Even considering how old they are, the straight-talking narrative and emphasis on facts (and sources) makes them worthwhile. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
I have a better opinion of this source than Edward Gibbon, who was just not fond of Byzantine Literary culture. Anna was a child of the emperor Alexius Comnenus who re-organized the empire after the disaster at Manzikert. This is also a basic book for the vision of the Western crusaders, and also as a social history of the later Empire. I believe this is an able translation, and hope more people will read one of the first books about Medieval Europe from an outside stance. ( )
1 vota DinadansFriend | May 15, 2014 |
I enjoyed the undercurrent of gleeful malice and all of the lurid eye-gouging, but I didn't understand why everyone seemed to have the same name, why they had all married each other's cousins, and why they all wanted to kill each other. The footnotes assumed I'd need help figuring out who the Gorgon was, and other references to Greek mythology, but provided no assistance with any of the Byzantine names, titles, dates, or battles. Not even a time line. I suppose that if I had known anything whatsoever about Byzantine history, I may have enjoyed the book more. As it was, all I learned was that they were really, really into gouging out eyes. ( )
1 vota paperloverevolution | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Anna Comnenaautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Sewter, E. R. A.Traductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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The Emperor Alexius, my father, even before he seized the throne had been of great service to the Roman Empire.
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