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Historical Context

The manuscript of A Pyrrhic Victory is fiction, but it is loyal to the known history of Pyrrhus’s life. Many of the supporting characters are also historical figures.

I have tried to be loyal to the history of these times both philosophically and factually—to the great deeds of Alexander the Great and his contemporaries, to the wonderful achievements of classical Greece, and to the Romans, who were nearing their time of greatness in the Mediterranean world.

There are a few small liberties that I have taken with fine historical detail to avoid unnecessary complexity. An example of one of these liberties is my giving the names of Lucius Cornelius Scipio and Gnaeus Fulvius as the consuls of Rome at the time of Pyrrhus’s and Antigone’s wedding in the first volume. These two men were the consuls in 298 BC, but it is possible that they entered their time of office a short time after the wedding. I avoided speaking about the consulship of 299 BC because in that year there was an interregnum of the consulship, with the election of military tribunes with consular power.

Such interregna occurred from time to time in Rome when there was a serious dispute between the patricians and the plebeians, at this time usually related to access to offices of power by the plebeians.

Dramatis Personae

A Pyrrhic Victory: Volume I, The Shaping of Destiny.


Principal characters and their positions at the commencement of the novel. They are presented in order of their importance with regard to setting the historical and political stage.

PYRRHUS – The young disinherited king of Epirus, who fights with Antigon

us and Demetrius at Ipsus, where this tale begins.

ANTIGONUS – One of Alexander’s generals. King of Phrygia and related territories. Rules Anatolia, the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean and part of Greece (with his son Demetrius). Aims to recreate a single empire.

DEMETRIUS – Son of Antigonus. Married to Deidameia, Pyrrhus’s sister. Declared as heir and co-king by Antigonus.

CASSANDER – Son of Antipater, Alexander’s regent in Macedonia. Hated for executing Olympias, Alexander’s mother, together with Roxanne and Alexander IV (Alexander the Great’s wife and son). King of Macedonia.

LYSIMACHUS – One of Alexander’s generals. King of Thrace.

PTOLEMY – One of Alexander’s generals. Pharaoh of Egypt.

BERENICE – Wife of Ptolemy. Empress of Egypt.

ANTIGONE – Daughter of Berenice. Stepdaughter of Ptolemy.

SELEUCUS – One of Alexander’s generals. King of Asia (Syria, Mesopotamia, and the eastern territories of Alexander’s empire).

MENESTHEUS – Scholar and mercenary captain.

PANTAUCHUS – General of Demetrius.

CINEAS – Athenian politician.

NEOPTOLEMUS – Pyrrhus’s cousin, who has seized the throne of Epirus from Pyrrhus.

DEIDAMEIA – Pyrrhus’s sister, married to Demetrius.

All of these characters are historical figures, with the exception of Menestheus.


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