Diodorus of Sicily, The Library, Books 16-20, Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Successors, transl. by Robin Waterfield, Oxford University Press, 2019, 624 pages, 6 map, 196x129mm, ISBN: 9780198759881.
The Greek historian Diodorus of Sicily is one of our most valuable sources from ancient times. His history, in forty volumes, was intended to range from mythological times to 60 BCE, and fifteen of The Library’s forty books survive.
This new translation by Robin Waterfield of books 16-20 covers a vital period in European history. Book 16 is devoted to Philip, and without it the career of this great king would be far more obscure to us. Book 17 is the earliest surviving account by over a hundred years of the world-changing eastern conquests of Alexander the Great, Philip’s son. Books 18-20 constitute virtually our sole source of information on the twenty turbulent years following Alexander’s death and on the violent path followed by Agathocles of Syracuse. There are fascinating snippets of history from elsewhere too – from Republican Rome, the Cimmerian Bosporus, and elsewhere.
Despite his obvious importance, Diodorus is a neglected historian. This is the first English translation of any of these books in over fifty years. The introduction places Diodorus in his context in first-century-BCE Rome, describes and discusses the kind of history he was intending to write, and assesses his strengths and weaknesses as a historian. With extensive explanatory notes on this gripping and sensational period of history, the book serves as a unique resource for historians and students.