Peter Jones

He Drank His Enemies Under the Table

Philip II of Macedonia

By

Yale University Press 352pp £25 order from our bookshop

Whatever one makes of Alexander the Great today – blood-soaked mass-murderer or enlightened advocate of the fellowship of nations – his achievements instantly captured the imagination of peoples from Ireland to Afghanistan, from Iceland to India. Part of the reason is that the ancient world understood military force and thoroughly approved. O, to be as powerful and ruthless as the Romans, as charismatic and all-conquering as Alexander! By contrast, the modern world’s greatest living hero, Nelson Mandela, would, I suspect, have been seen as rather a drip: largely useless as a terrorist, he was then locked up for twenty-seven years.

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