Great Captains of Antiquity

Great Captains of Antiquity

Great Captains of Antiquity

Great Captains of Antiquity


Gabriel expands upon the groundbreaking work of B. H. Lidell-Hart's Great Captains by offering detailed portraits of six great captains of the ancient world who met the challenges of their age and shaped the future of their societies, and civilization itself, through their actions.


Individual leaders alone do not make history. Yet, their capability to lead influences the course of events, more often than not, decisively. If this is true for all walks of life, then it is most decidedly the case in matters military.

To gain a true understanding of wars in their political setting and of battles within the strategy of war, it is incumbent upon us to conduct their study, in all its multifaceted complexity, according to their various components. These may be grouped under the headings of human, geographical, social, administrative, and technical. Of all of them, the first one holds a special fascination because of the peculiarity of each individual and of each group involved. This field of research includes the scrutiny, study, and interpolation of the lives of the greatest military commanders. To be sure, certain common traits belong to all great captains of war, yet not necessarily in the same degree of excellence. Other characteristics are those belonging singularly to each of the men as a group, combining with the former to create the captains’ personal brand of leadership and explain their great achievements.

Consciousness of the major importance of biographical research was aroused already by the inquiry of Aristotle into human behavior and character (Ethos and Pathos) and soon put into practice by the researchers of the ancient biographies from Xenophon through Plutarchos, Tacitus, Suetonius, and others to the late Roman authors of the Historiae Augustae and to Aurelius Victor. Since then, biographical writings have never ceased but continued; however, more often than not, in a more descriptive way and without asking the necessary questions so as to discover the answers that explain the true nature of the biographies.

Thus we are fortunate that Richard Gabriel, the erudite historian, has taken up the challenge of inquiring into the nature of six great captains, their leadership

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