Alexander the Great (356 BC - 323 BC)

King Philip and Macedon

Alexander and Aristotle

A worldwide empire


No required reading


Mary Renault,

The Nature of Alexander,

Pantheon Books,

ISBN 039473825X

Peter Green,

Alexander of Macedon,

Penguin Books,

ISBN 0520071654

Adrian Goldsworthy,

Philip and Alexander: Kings and Conquerors,

Basic Books,

ISBN 154164669X

These three excellent books about Alexander are all in print. The Renault book reads as an essay about Alexander and the literature about him. The Green book is considered the masterpiece of the world's leading expert on Alexander. Renault's book reflects her adoration of Alexander; Green's book is cooler and more academic. The Goldsworthy book is fascinating about Alexander and his father. All are excellent and well worth reading.


The best introduction to ancient Greece that I know is the historical fiction of Mary Renault:

Mary Renault (4 September 1905–13 December 1983), born Eileen Mary Challans, was an English writer best known for her historical novels set in ancient Greece. In addition to vivid fictional portrayals of Theseus, Socrates, Plato, and Alexander the Great, she wrote a non-fiction biography of Alexander. It is the best short book about him. (The Nature of Alexander)

Historical novels:

The Last of the Wine (1956)—set in Athens during the Peloponnesian War; the narrator is a student of Socrates.

The King Must Die (1958)—the mythical Theseus, up to his father's death

The Bull from the Sea (1962)—the remainder of Theseus' life

The Mask of Apollo (1966)—an actor at the time of Plato and Dionysius the Younger (brief appearance by Alexander near the end of the book)

Fire from Heaven (1969)—Alexander the Great from the age of four up to his father's death

The Persian Boy (1972)—from Bagoas's perspective; Alexander the Great after the conquest of Persia

The Praise Singer (1978)—the poet Simonides of Ceos

Funeral Games (1981)—Alexander's successors