Tag Archives: Alexander the Great

The History of the Argeads

Müllerm Sabine, Timothy Howe, Hugh Bowden & Robert Rollinger (eds.). 2017. The History of the Argeads. New Perspectives. (classica et orientalia 19), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

The Macedonian Argead Empire had an interesting and fascinating history already before its rise under its most famous rulers Philip II and his son Alexander III. Furthermore, the history of their predecessors provides a context for understanding their activities.
This volume, based on a conference on Argead Macedonia in 2015, offers an account of the place of Argead Macedonia in the wider ancient world from the sixth century BC to the second century AD and beyond. Argead Macedonia is explored in the context of its regal, structural, historical, courtly and military traditions. Its alliances and enmities, its political networks and environment are scrutinized – particularly in regard to Persia, but also to Greece. In order to look at Argead Macedonia from a wider angle, going beyond ancient literary topoi and views on Macedonia in isolation, the authors analyze in which ways the Argead monarchy was integrated into the wider Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern world, influenced by it and having an impact upon it. The volume is divided into four sections. Different aspects such as Macedonia’s relationship with Achaemenid Persia, political and military matters, Argead coinage, dynastic profile and reception of the Argeads are examined.

The introduction and the table of contents are available here.

The Alexander Romance by Ps.-Callisthenes

Nawotka, Krzysztof. 2017. The Alexander Romance by Ps.-Callisthenes. Leiden: Brill.

The Alexander Romance by Ps.-Callisthenes of Krzysztof Nawotka is a guide to a third century AD fictional biography of Alexander the Great, the anonymous Historia Alexandri Magni. It is a historical commentary which identifies all names and places in this piece of Greek literature approached as a source for the history of Alexander the Great, from kings, like Nectanebo II of Egypt and Darius III of Persia, to fictional characters. It discusses real and imaginary geography of the Alexander Romance. While dealing with all aspects of Ps.-Callisthenes relevant to Greek history and to Macedonia, its pays particular attention to aspects of ancient history and culture of Babylonia and Egypt and to the multi-layered foundation story of Alexandria.

Krzysztof Nawotka, Ph.D. (1991), The Ohio State University, is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Wrocław, Poland. He has published on Greek history, including The Western Pontic Cities: History and Political Organization (1997), Alexander the Great (2010), Boule and Demos in Miletus and its Pontic Colonies (2014).

With Alexander in India and Central Asia

Antonetti, Claudia, & Paolo Biagi (ed.). 2017. With Alexander in India and Central Asia: Moving east and back to west. Oxbow Books.

Alexander conquered most parts of the Western World, but there is a great deal of controversy over his invasion of India, the least known of his campaigns. In BC 327 Alexander came to India, and tried to cross the Jhelum river for the invasion, but was then confronted by King Porus who ruled an area in what is now the Punjab. According to Indian history he was stopped by Porus at his entry into the country, but most of the world still believes that Alexander won the battle. Fearing the prospect of facing other large armies and exhausted by years of campaigning, Alexander’s army mutinied at the Hyphasis River, refusing to march farther east. This river thus marks the easternmost extent of Alexander’s conquests.
Twelve papers in this volume examine aspects of Alexander’s Indian campaign, the relationship between him and his generals, the potential to use Indian sources, and evidence for the influence of policies of Alexander in neighbouring areas such as Iran and Russia.

 

Alexander’s Legacy

Cinzia, Bearzot & Landucci Franca (eds.). (2016). Alexander’s Legacy: Atti del Convegno, Milano-Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, settembre 2015 (Monografie Del Centro Ricerche Di Documentazione Sull’antichita Classica). L’ERMA di BRETSCHNEIDER.

 

Recently, the history of Alexander and his Successors has attracted growing attention of modern academia. The Hellenistic world is not viewed anymore as a moment of decadence after the splendour of the Greek Classical age, enlightened by Athens’ bright star, but as an engaging example of ante litteram globalization, the essential premise to the development of the Roman Empire. We have consequently considered opportune and significant to organise a conference meeting devoted to Alexander’ s Legacy.
Continue reading Alexander’s Legacy

The Cults of Alexander the Great in the Greek Cities of Asia Minor

Kholod, Maxim. 2016. “The Cults of Alexander the Great in the Greek Cities of Asia Minor“. Klio. Beiträge zur Alten Geschichte 98(2), 495-525.

 

The paper deals with the cults of Alexander the Great in the Greek cities of Asia Minor (on the coast and the nearby islands). The author argues that although some cults in these cities could be set up after the Macedonian king’s death, at least most known to us (or supposed) cults of Alexander in them were instituted still in his lifetime, in all likelihood, in 324-323 BC. It seems that the cults of the king were established only in a certain, probably far from overwhelming, number of the Greek cities of Asia Minor in this period. In turn, it should be believed that the do ut des principle played an important role when these cities introduced such cults. At the same time, their institution was also caused by a sense of gratitude of the inhabitants of the Greek cities of Asia Minor to Alexander for the liberation of them from the unpopular power of both the Persians and pro-Persian oligarchs or tyrants and, in addition, for those general and particular benefactions that were given by the Macedonian king to the communities.

A History of Alexander in the Age of Empire

Nicholas Elliott’s translation of Briant’s 2012 Alexandre des Lumières: Fragments d’histoire européenne has been published:

Briant, Pierre. 2017. The First European: A History of Alexander in the Age of Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

The exploits of Alexander the Great were so remarkable that for centuries after his death the Macedonian ruler seemed a figure more of legend than of history. Thinkers of the European Enlightenment, searching for ancient models to understand contemporary affairs, were the first to critically interpret Alexander’s achievements. As Pierre Briant shows, in the minds of eighteenth-century intellectuals and philosophes, Alexander was the first European: a successful creator of empire who opened the door to new sources of trade and scientific knowledge, and an enlightened leader who brought the fruits of Western civilization to an oppressed and backward “Orient.”

In France, Scotland, England, and Germany, Alexander the Great became an important point of reference in discourses from philosophy and history to political economy and geography. Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Robertson asked what lessons Alexander’s empire-building had to teach modern Europeans. They saw the ancient Macedonian as the embodiment of the rational and benevolent Western ruler, a historical model to be emulated as Western powers accelerated their colonial expansion into Asia, India, and the Middle East.

For a Europe that had to contend with the formidable Ottoman Empire, Alexander provided an important precedent as the conqueror who had brought great tyrants of the “Orient” to heel. As The First European makes clear, in the minds of Europe’s leading thinkers, Alexander was not an aggressive militarist but a civilizing force whose conquests revitalized Asian lands that had lain stagnant for centuries under the lash of despotic rulers.

Table of contents

  • Preface to the English-Language Edition
  • Introduction: Fragments of European History
  • I. A Critical History
    • 1. History, Morals, and Philosophy
    • 2. Alexander in Europe: Erudition and History
  • II. The Conqueror-Philosopher
    • 3. War, Reason, and Civilization
    • 4. A Successful Conquest
    • 5. Affirming and Contesting the Model
  • III. Empires and Nations
    • 6. Lessons of Empire, from the Thames to the Indus
    • 7. Alexander in France from the Revolution to the Restoration
    • 8. German Alexanders
  • IV. The Sense of History
    • 9. After Alexander?
    • 10. Alexander, Europe, and the Immobile Orient
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

Alexander the Great and the East

Nawotka, Krzysztof & Agnieszka Wojciechowska (eds.). 2016. Alexander the Great and the East: History, Art, Tradition. (Philippika – Altertumswissenschaftliche Abhandlungen / Contributions to the Study of Ancient World Cultures 103). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Even if Alexander’s rule in Asia has to be approached primarily through the study of Greek and Latin authors, many papers in this volume try to look beyond Arrian, Plutarch, Curtius, and Diodorus to Greek inscriptions, papyri, Egyptian, Babylonian, medieval Syriac and Arabic evidence. One focus is on Egypt, from the XXX dynasty to the Ptolemaic age. A lasting achievement of the early Macedonian age in Egypt is the lighthouse of Pharos, probably devised under Alexander to serve both as a watchtower of Alexandria and the focal point of the fire telegraph.
Another focus of the volume is on Babylonia, with caveats against the over-enthusiastic usage of cuneiform sources for Alexander. This focus then moves further east, showing how much caution is necessary in studying the topography of Alexander’s campaigns in Baktria, the land often misrepresented by ancient and medieval authors. It also deals with representation and literary topoi, having in mind that Alexander was as much a historical as a literary figure. In many respects ancient Alexander historians handled his persona in strong connection with Herodotean topics, while the idealized portrait of Alexander translated, through court poetry, into the language of power of Ptolemy of Egypt. Alexander was adopted to cultural traditions of the East, both through the medium of the Alexander Romance and through his fictitious correspondence with Aristotle, sometimes becoming a figure of a (Muslim) mystic or a chosen (Jewish) king.
Table of Contents
  • Krzysztof Nawotka and Agnieszka Wojciechowska: “Alexander the Great and the East: History, Art, Tradition: An Introduction”
  • Ivan A. Ladynin: “An Egyptian Prince at Alexander’s Court at Asia? A New Interpretation for the Evidence of the Statuette of the Son of Nectanebo II”
  • Krzysztof Nawotka and Agnieszka Wojciechowska: “Nectanebo II and Alexander the Great”
  • Adam Łukaszewicz: “Alexander and the Island of Pharos”
  • Giulia Cesarin: “Hunters on Horseback: New Version of the Macedonian Iconography in Ptolemaic Egypt”
  • Eduard Rung: “Athens, Alexander and the Family of Memnon of Rhodes: Some Notes on a New Interpretation of so-called “Memnon’s Decree”
  • Krzysztof Ulanowski: “The Methods of Divination Used in the Campaigns of the Assyrian Kings and Alexander the Great”
  • Micah T. Ross: “Belephantes to Alexander: An Astrological Report to a Macedonian King?”
  • Robin Lane Fox: “Alexander and Babylon: A Substitute King?”
  • Jeffrey Lerner: “Which Way North? Retracing Alexander’s Route to Marakanda in the Spring of 328 B.C.E”
  • Olga Kubica: “The Massacre of the Branchidae: a Reassessment. The post-mortem Case in Defence of the Branchidae”
  • Gościwit Malinowski: “Alexander the Great and China”
  • Guendalina D.M. Taietti: “Alexander the Great as a Herodotean Persian king”
  • Sabine Muller: “Poseidippos, Ptolemy and Alexander”
    Igor Yakubovitch: “The East in Curtius Rufus’ Historiae Alexandri Magni: A Paradoxical Reversion of Standards”
  • Christian Thrue Djurslev: “The Figure of Alexander the Great and Nonnus’ Dionysiaca”
  • Agnieszka Fulińska: “The Great, Son of the Great. Alexander – Son of Darius?”
  • Dan-Tudor Ionescu: “The King and His Personal Historian: The Relationship between Alexander of Macedon and Callisthenes in Bactria and Sogdiana”
  • Przemysław Siekierka: “Another Note on Deification of Alexander in Athens”
  • Agnieszka Kotlińska-Toma: “On His Majesty’s Secret Service – Actors at the Court of Alexander the Great”
  • Aleksandra Szalc: “The Metamorphoses of Pseudo-Callisthenes’ Motifs Concerning India in the Persian Alexander Romances”
  • Emily Cottrell: “An Early Mirror for Princes and Manual for Secretaries: The Epistolary Novel of Aristotle and Alexander”
  • Richard Stoneman: “Alexander’s Mirror”
  • Aleksandra Klęczar: “Wise and the Wiser: The Narratives on Alexander’s Wisdom Defeated in Two Versions of Hebrew Alexander Romance (MS London Jews’ College no 145 and MS Héb. 671.5 Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale)”
  • Josef Wiesehöfer: “Alexander’s “Policy of Fusion” and German Ancient History between 1933 and 1945”

Alexander: Exegesis of common images

alexandreBriant, Pierre. 2016. Alexandre. Exégèse des lieux communs.  Éditions Gallimard.

As a well-known historian who has been dealing with Achaemenid history for decades, Pierre Briant has published several books and articles on Alexander the Great. In his newest book, Briant focuses on the exegesis of  extant images of Alexander from eastern to western sources. His work is not limited to ancient sources but also deals with contemporary images such as Alexandre d’Hollywood.

The critical analysis of the images we observe in ancient Roman, Iranian  and modern sources is the main goal of the author and completes his previous research.

To see the table of contents, click here.

Six Polybian themes concerning Alexander the Great

Overtoom, Nikolaus L. 2013. Six Polybian themes concerning Alexander the GreatClassical World. 106 (4), 571-593.

This study discusses the image of Alexander the Great created by Polybius and reinvestigates the Polybian themes concerning the Macedonian. Richard Billows suggested that there are fi ve Polybian themes found in his analysis of Alexander. Yet our current assumptions about the scope of Polybius’ portrayal and his own conclusions require reconsideration. In fact, Polybius’ favorable comparison of Rome’s accomplishments to those of Alexander emerges as a possible sixth theme. This article examines these six Polybian themes, while demonstrating that Polybius does not disassociate his text completely from an apologetic tone and offers a generally positive opinion of Alexander the Great.

 

The Susa Marriages

Van Oppen De Ruiter, Branko F. 2014. The Susa Marriages: A Historiographical Note. Ancient Society. 44, 25-41.

The Persian and Median noble women whom Alexander married to his Greek and Macedonian companions at Susa were all repudiated shortly after his death — so common opinion would have it. The present note aims to dispel this notion and to argue instead that Alexander’s Successors had no reason to abandon their Asiatic wives — even if they did eventually marry other women. If the Susan brides failed to make their presence in recorded history, that would be because ancient authors found nothing worth mentioning in their subsequent careers. Underlying modern assumptions, moreover, we will find misleading believes such as that the Macedonians were serially monogamous and that they resented their foreign wives. This article may thus serve as a warning about the intricacies of (early-) Hellenistic marital practices.