Forget Hollywood's portrayal of violence and mayhem in ancient warfare and find out what the ancient battles were really like. What were the weapons, tactics, armor, training, and logistics? What were the crucial factors that could turn the tide of battle, giving one side victory and the other defeat?
In 24 exciting lectures, Professor Fagan introduces you to the many fateful battles that became crucibles of history: the fearsome clash between the Athenians and the invading Persian army at the Marathon, Alexander the Great's crushing hammer-and-anvil tactics against the Persians at Gaugemela, and the Roman mastery of siege warfare at the Jewish fortress of Masada.
Encompassing the region from Mesopotamia to western Europe-including Egypt and Northern Africa-this course charts the development of warfare from prehistoric times and examines battles and warfare from the city-states of early Sumer to the fearsome Assyrian war machine, the Greeks' distinctive form of combat, the Persian invasions, and the legions of Rome, which evolved brutally effective tactics that gained them dominion over the entire Mediterranean basin.
Although the battles you study were fought long ago, considerable controversy exists among contemporary historians. Professor Fagan presents contending theories without losing sight of the grim realities of war, and the many millions who have died on the battlefields.
"We owe it to them," he concludes, "and to the thousands who continue to perish in our planet's wars, to understand as fully as possible what it was that killed them. If this course has advanced its audience's comprehension of war even a little, then it has amply fulfilled its purpose."
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses
This course presents a unique look at ancient history by focusing on key battles. The context of the battle is established and its conduct and outcome discussed in detail.
While this is a series of episodes, Professor Fagan makes it a whole story. The battles are presented in a narrative of the emerging civilizations and empires of the ancient world. This ties them together so you can see how they affected the course of history.
The detail on strategy, tactics, and armaments is excellent. The descriptions are complete. There is never a dry moment.
With a wonderful speaking style, Professor Fagan pulls you into the story and makes you see the scenes he describes.
"Very well written and fascinating"
This course covers several major battles that took place in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa during ancient times (prehistory - ~400 AD). In doing so, discussions range from detailed descriptions of military technology to more anthropological musings on the nature of human conflict.
The first two lectures are taken up with pure anthropology, essentially trying to define war and find when the first human wars occurred. I would actually skip these had I known about them as they come over as quite dry and technical discussions on what "counts" as a war. I found myself thinking "get to the battles already!" during these lectures.
Once we move passed the anthropology, the lectures become much more engaging. With discussions of the Assyrian empire and their military methods. This being a topic I knew nothing about, I found these very enlightening. However, the author is an academic historian and it very much shows. He spends a huge amount of time discussing differing theories placed upon the evidence, which sometimes is illuminating, and other times just detracts. For example, I remember a good stretch where he talks about different views on what chariots were used for...
As soon as the sources become a bit stronger, once we get into the Greek and Roman battles especially, the course comes into it's own. The final five or six lectures are brilliant, and the descriptions of the Roman defeats at Cannae and the Teutoberg forest are enthralling.
I'm giving 4 stars overall, and I would suggest this course to interested folk. But be ready to skip a few lectures and get to the good stuff!
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