The Alexiad

The Alexiad The shining light of the world the great Alexius Anna Comnena wrote The Alexiad as an account of the reign of her father the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I It is also an important source of i

  • Title: The Alexiad
  • Author: Anna Comnena E.R.A. Sewter
  • ISBN: 9780140449587
  • Page: 375
  • Format: Paperback
  • The shining light of the world, the great Alexius Anna Comnena 1083 1153 wrote The Alexiad as an account of the reign of her father, the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I It is also an important source of information on the Byzantine war with the Normans, and the First Crusade, in which Alexius participated While the Byzantines were allied to the Crusaders, they were none t The shining light of the world, the great Alexius Anna Comnena 1083 1153 wrote The Alexiad as an account of the reign of her father, the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I It is also an important source of information on the Byzantine war with the Normans, and the First Crusade, in which Alexius participated While the Byzantines were allied to the Crusaders, they were none the less critical of their behaviour and Anna s book offers a startlingly different perspective from that of Western historians Her character sketches are shrewd and forthright from the Norman invader Robert Guiscard nourished by mainfold Evil and his son Bohemond like a streaking thunderbolt to Pope Gregory VII unworthy of a high priest The Alexiad is a vivid and dramatic narrative, which reveals as much about the character of its intelligent and dynamic author as it does about the fascinating period through which she lived.E.R.A Sewter s translation captures all the strength and immediacy of the original and is complemented by an introduction that examines Anna s life and times This edition also includes maps, appendices, genealogical tables, a bibliography and indexes of events and names.

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    One thought on “The Alexiad”

    1. I've been thinking a lot about reviewing lately.For a time I considered stopping entirely. It sometimes gets very stressful to read a book while searching for quotes to use and things to mention, not being able to actually enjoy the book because too much time and focus goes towards planning the eventual review.Which is bloody ridiculous.It's sad to say this, but I've been putting too much energy into reviewing. It should only be done for fun, and that's what I'm going to do from now on.Which is [...]

    2. Edward Gibbons of 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'fame, has left a long lasting slander upon the Eastern Roman,or Byzantine, Empire. So long lasting was it that it permeated the writings of other historians,popular fiction writers, even a couple of Italian 'blood & sandal" movies of the early sixties. Gibbons, I believe, suffered from an elitism that all good things came from the pagan Romans. That Eastern religion was a part of their downfall. Charles Martel's victory over a Mosle [...]

    3. What would Byzantine history be like if it was written by a sour and snippily self-conscious Victorian governess? Thanks to Anna Comnena, we don't have to wonder. Full review now available on Vintage Novels

    4. For me the most interesting thing about Anna Comena's biography of her father is how much hard work it was to be a Byzantine Emperor.There seem to be constant hordes of enemies, external and internal, while every soldier to fight in their support needs to scrapped from the bottom of the barrel.Her narrative is indispensable for those interested in the 1st crusade and is ironically, considering her lack of love for the westerners, the most widely available primary source. Comena does have the irr [...]

    5. this gets 4 stars for the edition, not the text which is fine.I had the luxury of reading this in tandem with a number of other less contemporary takes of the Crusades, like Edward Gibbon and Steven Runciman's First Crusade and still more recent things. So I was able to construct a timeline and make sense on my own of the various names and families and places and loyalties and why and what for. I don't know of a current resource for this sort of thing, I used Ostrogorsky. Anna Komnena is an inco [...]

    6. An intimdating 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 [...]

    7. Always feels a bit strange writing a review for something written almost a thousand years ago. I can't imagine Anna Comnena herself would be very amused by the idea of any old pleb on social media being able to pass comment upon her history. It goes without saying that the Alexiad has tremendous value as a piece of source material but I guess the whole point of reviews on is to comment on the book's entertainment value for the general reader rather than its usefulness for the historian. So here [...]

    8. 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 whats [...]

    9. Anna Komnene wordt beschouwd als de eerste vrouwelijke historicus, maar ze was ook een Byzantijnse prinses en in dit boek vertelt ze over het bewind van haar eigen vader, keizer Alexios I van het Oost-Romeinse rijk. Anna doet dit op zeer eigenzinnige wijze: ze beweert herhaaldelijk de waarheid te willen vertellen en niet aan verheerlijking te willen doen, maar het leuke is dat ze zich slecht aan haar eigen devies houdt en haar vertelling pepert met vooroordelen tegen andere volken ("zo zijn ze, [...]

    10. As usual, I am not reviewing Anna Komnene as an historian. I am reviewing this particular edition of her work.This is a relatively recent edition of the 'Alexiad'. While the core of E.R.A. Sewter's 1969 translation remains in place, many changes have been made and they are all good. The first, and most visually obvious, is the jacket. The 2003 edition of the Alexiad featured a figure in mosaic, which the book identified as Alexios Komnenos, as depicted in a 12th c. mosaic in the Hagia Sophia. Th [...]

    11. For a primary source from 1148 this is immensely readable. Sometimes it bogs down in names and dates, but its point of view is very interesting and the author's voice is clear and clever. I especially enjoyed some of the little asides.

    12. First hand account of the Crusades from the perspective of Byzantium and the East. Not too hard to get through as far as Medieval non-fiction goes!

    13. An enthralling account of the reign of Alexios 1 by his daughter Anna. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire's eastern frontier after the battle of Manzikert, a series of ineffectual emperors and a civil war made matters worse. Out of the chaos rose the young general Alexios who brought stability back to the empire but also laid the seeds for later problems by favouring his own family and supporters for high positions in the imperial bureaucracy. With hindsight we can see that his worst err [...]

    14. It's kind of hard to "review" primary sources. Put it like this: The Alexiad is large and dense, seems relatively well-researched, and while undoubtedly biased (she's writing about her dad, people) deserves to be called a "history" or at least a "biography" rather than a panegyric (a document or speech extolling the virtues of someone or something). And to be fair, it's hard not to get personal when you were taking your father's pulse at his dying bedside (spoilers!). It's a crucial look into a [...]

    15. nwhytevejournal/1730453 is a history of the reign of the Byzantine emperor Alexius I by his daughter Anna. Gibbon is (as so often) unfairly scathing about this book, saying that "an elaborate affectation of rhetoric and science betrays on every page the vanity of a female author". It's not that bad, but it's not that great either; if you're not especially interested in the events of the late eleventh century and early twelfth century at that end of the Mediterranean, you can skip it in good cons [...]

    16. As 12-century Byzantine histories go, this is a heavy read with its repetitions and religious invocations. And yet it's also fascinating because this history written by Byzantine princess Anna Comnena (born in the purple, as she won't let you forget) provides a unique insight in the history of Byzantium seen from within. They felt they were the Roman Empire, and looked down on Western Europeans ('Franks') for their greed, duplicity and aggression, at best with 'noble savage' clichés that Europe [...]

    17. If everyone still looked at outside culture through the eyes of Disney and was conservative enough to wage wars based on religion, then perhaps they would be able to relate to Anna Komnene's depiction of her father's "magnificent" rule of the Byzantine Empire. There are hundreds of name drops that are irrelevant in today’s understanding of politics and social status. However, Book XI shows interesting details that are historically significant, as is the text itself when discussing the crusades [...]

    18. At times this got kind of boring, but Anna was extremely talented at describing the events that happened. I felt really sad for her at the end as describes how Alexius died (I'm not hiding this since in biographies the person always dies at the end). I especially love how she humanized her father, instead of making him appear not human but just an amazing emperor. Throughout the book it was obvious how much she loved and looked up to him. It was surprising to me because I always hear about how r [...]

    19. Great History, Tough ReadI picked up this book after reading the Minimum Wage Historian's write-up of Anna Komnene in Fearless: Powerful Women of History.I'm really not sure what I was expecting. If you're a scholar or hugely interested in Byzantine history around the 11th century, then this is a good choice, full of battle facts and city locations. Otherwise, it's pretty slow reading. There are some bits that are interesting insights into the character and views of the author herself (which is [...]

    20. Alexius determining whether to war with The Cumans:"On two tablets Alexius wrote the question, 'Should I go out to attack the Cumans?'; on one 'Yes' was added, on the other 'No'. They were signed and the patriarch [Nicolas] was commanded to place them on The Holy Table. After hymns had been sun all through the nigh, Nicolas went to the altar, picked up one of the papers and brought it out. In the presence of the whole company he broke the seal and read aloud what was written there. The emperor a [...]

    21. Comnena paints an excruciatingly favorable portrait of her father, the Emperor Alexis of Byzantium. This is a history from 1083 to 1108 and includes a rare insight into the First Crusade. The wildly inept bureaucracy and military leaders is laughable, and the author excuses each debacle as though somehow baffling. She recites an incident where a notorious traitor has finally been seized and imprisoned in an unguarded tower only to escape by climbing out a window! Who would have thought that poss [...]

    22. This is a great account of Byzantine court life in the eleventh century, the personal character of Alexios Komnenos, and the events of the First Crusade. Anna Komnena has a very smooth style of writing which is similar to that of Plutarch. Similarly to Plutarch she enjoys moralizing and assigning motives, often to people with whom she clearly has no desire to empathize. Luckily she makes it clear when she's motivated primarily by contempt, which is the norm when she's discussing a non-Greek, if [...]

    23. Written in the 12th century by the daughter of Emperor Alexios I, this is an amazing look at the history and attitudes of the Roman Empire of the time. Anna Komnene was a remarkable woman and her history is a must read for anyone interested in the era.This is not a polished history as we are used to reading today. Anna is quite partisan, and writing mostly from memory about even that were decades in the past. But still engrossing and fun. Keep two bookmarks handy; as the extensive end notes in e [...]

    24. Most Byzantine history is written by monks in a pompous and boring style. Anna Komnene's book is refreshingly vivid, adventurous, and sufficiently subjective. Although Anna writes this book in praise of her father's (the emperor Alexios Komnenos) accomplishments, she is very aware of her duty as a historian. Although there are a few escapades of raw adoration, for the most part the account is fair often exposing some of Alexio's shortcomings such as duplicity in international affairs. Although i [...]

    25. This book was written early in the twelfth century by Anna Comnena (Komnene), who was the daughter of Emperor Alexius (Alexios) of the Byzantine Empire. As would be expected, much of her story is biased in favor of her father. She draws together historical accounts from sources of the time but seems terribly confused about the sequence of events. Nonetheless, it is a priceless work and presents an intriguing view into Byzantine life and thought, chock full of useful historical tidbits.

    26. quite simply, the most fundamental primary source on the Eastern Roman Empire ever committed to paper.And, the finest scholarly, political, historical and diplomatic work ever committed to print by a woman in history. The woman of the Eastern Roman Empire were the best educated, the best looking, the most intelligent, the most pious, and none were there rivals on this earth. What one might give for an hour on the Bosporus with Anna Comneni, daughter of the Emperor of the Romans.

    27. Fascinating life of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius by his daughter Anna. The Byzantine Greeks get short shrift in western histories, and reading this is a step in the direction of rectifying my own personal cultural deficit. If you can get past sometimes-stiff translationese, and Anna's own long-winded narrative style, you get to lurid and bloody facts, in war, politics and religion alike. Very entertaining, on top of everything else.

    28. 1 : Alexiade Tome I : Livres I-IV2 : Alexiade Tome II : Livres V-X3 : Alexiade Tome III : Livres XI-XV. Index

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