Pyrrhus - Jacob Abbott

The decades following the death of Alexander the Great involved a long and complicated series of wars between his generals, which split his empire. Pyrrhus, a prince of Epirus, was a leading historical character during this time, and Abbott uses his life to illuminate the entire era. Other characters including Alexander's villainous mother Olympias and his trusted advisor Antipater figure prominently in this story. Pyrrhus himself is a fascinating character, combining great talent and energy with fatal weaknesses.

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[Book Cover] from Pyrrhus by Jacob Abbott


[Title Page] from Pyrrhus by Jacob Abbott
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In respect to the heroes of ancient history, who lived in times antecedent to the period when the regular records of authentic history commence, no reliance can be placed upon the actual verity of the accounts which have come down to us of their lives and actions. In those ancient days there was, in fact, no line of demarcation between romance and history, and the stories which were told of Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, Romulus, Pyrrhus, and other personages as ancient as they, are all more or less fabulous and mythical. We learn this as well from the internal evidence furnished by the narratives themselves as from the researches of modern scholars, who have succeeded, in many cases, in disentangling the web, and separating the false from the true. It is none the less important, however, on this account, that these ancient tales, as they were originally told, and as they have come down to us through so many centuries, should be made known to readers of the present age. They have been circulated among mankind in their original form for twenty or thirty centuries, and they have mingled themselves inextricably with the literature, the eloquence, and the poetry of every civilized nation on the globe. Of course, to know what the story is, whether true or false, which the ancient narrators recorded, and which has been read and commented on by every succeeding generation to the present day, is an essential attainment for every well-informed man; a far more essential attainment, in fact, for the general reader, than to discover now, at this late period, what the actual facts were which gave origin to the fable.

In writing this series of histories, therefore, it has been the aim of the author not to correct  the ancient story, but to repeat it as it stands, cautioning the reader, however, whenever occasion requires, not to suppose that the marvelous narratives are historically true.

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