Steven Pressfield's new Alexander novel

Recommend, or otherwise, books on Alexander (fiction or non-fiction). Promote your novel here!

Moderator: pothos moderators

User avatar
Efstathios
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 759
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2005 7:08 pm
Location: Athens,Greece

Post by Efstathios »

The writer makes some things up.It's fiction.In this case a writer would make abbreviations in order for the characters to be more keen to the reader.And maybe because Greek names are somewhat difficult for the english speaking people, or generally non Greek people.Like Hephaistion.(That's a mistake of he who decided how Hephaistion would be pronounced in english.The Greek pronounciation is not that difficult, in fact it's pretty simple).f someone wouldnt have seen the movie he wouldnt know how to pronounce it, would he?But for some names i dont think abbrevations work right.I mean, i cant think any abbrevation for Hephaistion,while you can use Agis for Agesilaos for example.But phai for Hephaistion is like saying cha for Richard.Does it sound good to you?I think not.

And in Greek this abbrevation would be just a "Fe" ,"e" as in Santa Fe.Well Fe doesnt work not even as an abbrevation.Hephaistion in Greek and ancient Greek is pronounced "Ifestion"."I" like in "if", and "fe" like in "Santa Fe",and the tone, the pronounciation is in "tion" and not in "phai" as it is in English.

I agree, a possible abbrevation could have been "tion".Also, dont forget that the extension of the name changes in Greek." O Hephaistion= Hephaistion (he). "Tou Hephaistionos"= of Hephaistion".If you would say "the wine of Hephaistion", in Greek it would be "to krasi tou Hephaistionos".So using just the abbrevation would be " tou tionos"= of tion (or tion's).So the abbrevation would change accordingly to what you would say.For Alexander it would be: "O Alexandros"= Alexander (he), and "tou Alexandrou"= of Alexander (or Alexander's).

But generally some names dont get abbrevations.Unless we use modern slang ,like Gi for George.But this is way too modern.Like initials.Next thing would be presenting Hephaistion with sunglasses and sport shoes?Well, actually they used to perform ancient Greek tragedies wearing modern clothes.And i think in Epidaurus (oh these latinized Greek words), they still do some plays like this.So, why not a writer use abbrevations? :lol:

But as i disagree with plays like these, i also disagree with writers using abbrevations like this,and especially when these abbrevations only work in english.
User avatar
Efstathios
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 759
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2005 7:08 pm
Location: Athens,Greece

Post by Efstathios »

Good morning. I wanted to write a reply to azara yesterday but it was way too late, and i wouldnt have been able to wake up for work today, so here is:

azara, You are right.Some names like that of Plato were actually like nicknames.The same thing happens today only with last names.But generally most of the names in ancient Greece were derrived from two words,and had a particular meaning, and that's why they didnt use abbreviations.It would spoil the meaning of the name.For example Pythagoras.It derrives from the words "peithw" (omega at the end)= convincing speech, and "agorevw" (again omega at the end)=talking to the people making a speech.So his name means "he who speaks to the people with a convincing speech".

"Platon" was like a nickname, but it wasnt the exact word of the situation or thing or animal that the nickname reffers to.Pressfield gives nicknames like "Rooster", which is the exact word of the animal.I dont think these kind of nicknames were used in Ancient Greece.There is no account.But again we cant be sure.
User avatar
azara
Pezhetairos (foot soldier)
Posts: 78
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 12:23 pm
Location: Italy

Post by azara »

Thank you, Efstathios. IGÇÖm really a fan of your beautiful language, which I consider one of the most fascinating communication systems mankind has ever invented. Unfortunately many years have passed since I studied it, but recently I have resumed it and slowly it is coming back, grammar, vocabulary and all, which gives me great satisfaction. IGÇÖd like to read Arrian in the original, who did not figure then among the authors we had to prepare for our exams, but it takes time to be up to it. Meanwhile I like a lot linguistic questions on Pothos. With kind regards Azara
P.S: I hope this message doesnGÇÖt come out several times, since some attempts at submitting, I donGÇÖt know why, went wrong.
User avatar
dean
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 726
Joined: Wed May 28, 2003 2:31 pm
Location: Las Palmas, Spain

Foghorn leghorn

Post by dean »

Hello,

He really used "rooster"?

:cry:
Images of Leghorn from Looney tunes come springing to mind!!! :lol:
Oh, my God- what have you done?
ATB
Dean
carpe diem
User avatar
Efstathios
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 759
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2005 7:08 pm
Location: Athens,Greece

Post by Efstathios »

He really used "rooster"?
Well, in "Gates of Fire" in the Greek translation, one character had the nickname "Rooster".
User avatar
Paralus
Strategos (general)
Posts: 2852
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2005 7:13 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

Post by Paralus »

Efstathios wrote: Well, in "Gates of Fire" in the Greek translation, one character had the nickname "Rooster".
Well Efstathios, every good story must have a cock.
Paralus
Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

Academia.edu
jan
Strategos (general)
Posts: 1709
Joined: Sat Feb 15, 2003 2:29 pm

Thanks for correction, Marcus

Post by jan »

:oops: Yes, you are correct! I agree that it sounds like I was confusing Harrison Ford and Indiana Jones, but it is Curtis! It just seems to me that Pressfield and Ford vie with one another on who can be more grizzly in the story telling department. They are both quite brutal and cruel in many of their descriptions. I was disappointed in Steve Pressfield's work on Alexander that he did not use so many great descriptive devices, but rather seems to merely use accounts and lists. So I hope Afghan Campaign is like the Steve of old in Gates of Fire. We will see!
ruthaki
Strategos (general)
Posts: 1229
Joined: Sat Jul 13, 2002 4:31 pm
Location: Vancouver B.C. Canada

Pressfield's new book and diminutive names

Post by ruthaki »

I just got the new book "The Afghan Campaign" and as a fan of Pressfield and also a historical fiction writer, on the subject of Alexander's world, I resent the fact that people here are dissing the book without even having read it. Frankly I've enjoyed all his books, in particular Gates of Fire, but all the others as well. If you want more 'formal' writing, stick to you history texts.

As for the nicknames or diminutives. "AKI" at the end of a name (in modern Greek) is a diminutive. So is "OULA". There are diminutives for many Greek names: Dimitris is Mitso or Mimis, for instance. And in writing my novel Shadow of the Lion, it sometimes became confusing because there are many characters of the same name and as they are historical persons you can't change them. So in the course of conversations between friends I may refer to "Nikanor" (there are two) as "Nikos" and as there are two Demitrios, in conversation one is sometimes referred to a Mimis. These are affectionate names between friends.

And by the way, my name "Ruthaki" is the diminutive my Greek friends call me instead of "Ruthie" and it's a name I really treasure.
User avatar
dean
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 726
Joined: Wed May 28, 2003 2:31 pm
Location: Las Palmas, Spain

Post by dean »

Hello,

It is nice to hear from you- it is funny- I was just thinking yesterday that I hadn't heard anything from you in a while.

I am one of the one's who has been criticising the book- without having read it- and I apologise- it just seemed an odd scenario to be addressing the characters in such a way.

When it comes out in paperback over here I no doubt will buy it- Gates of Fire had me on the edge of my seat- it just seems that the reviews of the last few books have not been quite up to the same standard.

Best regards,
Dean
carpe diem
User avatar
amyntoros
Somatophylax
Posts: 2188
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: New York City

Post by amyntoros »

ruthaki wrote:I just got the new book "The Afghan Campaign" and as a fan of Pressfield and also a historical fiction writer, on the subject of Alexander's world, I resent the fact that people here are dissing the book without even having read it.
I don't feel that we're "dissing" the book without having read it - most of the comments here on Pressfield are related to his previous work. (Obviously not everyone is a fan of everything he has written.) The present discussion is mostly about the use of nicknames and diminutives by fiction writers in general, and how readers may respond to this use. You've just contributed on that topic and I thank you - I was hoping you'd weigh in on the subject.

Best regards,
Amyntoros

Pothos Lunch Room Monitor
ScottOden
Pezhetairos (foot soldier)
Posts: 121
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2003 7:12 pm
Location: Southern US
Contact:

The Afghan Campaign

Post by ScottOden »

Hi All,

Having just finished Pressfield's The Afghan Campaign, I thought I'd add my 2-obols' worth . . .

I found it to be an excellent book. Gritty, brutal, an honest look at what it takes to be a soldier in an insurgent-style conflict. It's been mentioned before that the story is a thinly-veiled depiction of the modern conflict in Afghanistan, but to me it had more of a Vietnam-era feel to it -- the war of Pressfield's own generation and the one I believe he served in as a Marine (I know he was a Marine, but I'm not sure if he saw combat).

Regarding dimunitive versions of names -- "nicknames": it's been one of Pressfield's oft-written themes that soldiers never change, despite possessing a different culture and a different language. Unfortunately, no record I know of has survived of the Greek or Macedonian footsoldier. We don't know how they adapted their language, or if they adapted it at all, to meet the expected vulgarity of the common trooper. In The Afghan Campaign, the clipped Greek, if you will, admirably conveyed Pressfield's theme; like a good writer, he took what he knew -- the culture of the US Marine Corp -- as a basis for his fictional Macedonian soldiers. It's not perfect, not strictly historical, but it works for the story he is trying to tell.

As good as Gates of Fire? No, but few books ever will be. I rank it third in my Pressfield library -- after Gates of Fire and Tides of War (I happened to like that one, weck up to thees!)

Scott
User avatar
amyntoros
Somatophylax
Posts: 2188
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: New York City

Re: The Afghan Campaign

Post by amyntoros »

ScottOden wrote:. . .it's been one of Pressfield's oft-written themes that soldiers never change, despite possessing a different culture and a different language.
Everyone will probably think "here we go again," but I also disagree with Pressfield on this. I've taken your words slightly out of context here because although you were referring to nicknames, it's my understanding that Pressfield takes this theme right across the board.

Now, there was an Italian POW camp in our town and I grew up hearing tales of Italian soldiers from WWII. I heard of amiable, trustworthy (and often charming) men, most of whom hadn't wanted to fight in the first place. And the reason that everyone got to know them so well (some local women even married them after the war) was because they were allowed out of the camp to work around the town without supervision. At the end of the day a horn was sounded and they ALL returned to quarters. There were also similar tales of battles involving their capture. It may well be that not all Italian soldiers felt and behaved the same way, although being an avid reader of wartime books when I was younger, I did read many similar stories.

I'm not saying that Italian soldiers at all times in history were like this - but that's my point. Their behavior was linked to their culture, their politics, and the state of warfare and the world at this particular point in time. These soldiers certainly don't bear any close resemblance to the average German soldier of the period, nor to the Americans in Vietnam, nor many others. Different periods of history and different cultural attitudes to war will breed different soldiers, and I don't see how ancient Macedonians, raised as a warriors and fighting a war of conquest and acquisition, can be compared to (for instance) young American soldiers in the Middle East today - many of whom only joined the army to earn money for college or because there was no other opportunity available to them.

It's very difficult to write this without getting on a political track, but the reality is that all wars are NOT the same and neither are the combatants. People are shaped by their own culture and society and common soldiers are not immune to outside influence. There always has to be a cultural imprint upon them.

Now, none of this is to say that you shouldn't find Pressfield's book a darn good read! We can identify today with the soldiers in Vietnam (though that wasn't true a couple of decades ago!), so I see why the book would work for the modern reader. I just don't think that the resemblance is necessarily true. :-)

Best regards,
Last edited by amyntoros on Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Amyntoros

Pothos Lunch Room Monitor
agesilaos
Strategos (general)
Posts: 2180
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2002 2:16 pm
Location: LONDON

Post by agesilaos »

That nicknames of a sort are valid maybe adduced from those given to the interminable crop of Ptolemies, and other successors btw the diminutive most of my friends use for Agesilaos is silly-arse! Friends like that who needs Thebans, eh?
karen
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 451
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2002 6:03 am

Nicknames & excerpts

Post by karen »

Chalk down another author who felt that Greeks used diminutive nicknames, at least some of the time: Mary Renault.

In The Mask of Apollo, close friends of the narrator character Nikeratos sometimes call him "Niko."

I would never diss a novel or an author without having read any of it, or him. My poor opinion of Pressfield is based on excerpts on his website. There is one area at least in which, if you've read part of a novel, you know how the rest goes: writing style. Where there is a first person narrator, the style becomes the character. I am very, very sensitive to and persnickety about these things. Sorry if that's not enough, Ruth!

Warmly,
Karen
User avatar
marcus
Somatophylax
Posts: 4764
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:27 am
Location: Nottingham, England

Post by marcus »

agesilaos wrote:That nicknames of a sort are valid maybe adduced from those given to the interminable crop of Ptolemies, and other successors btw the diminutive most of my friends use for Agesilaos is silly-arse! Friends like that who needs Thebans, eh?
Excellent! :lol:

You'll wish you'd never told us ... :oops:

ATB
Marcus
Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago
At Amazon US
At Amazon UK
Post Reply