Categories
Books

The Legitimation of Conquest

Trampedach, Kai & Alexander Meeus (eds.). 2020. The legitimation of conquest: Monarchical representation and the art of government in the empire of Alexander the Great (Studies in Ancient Monarchies 7). Stuttgart: Fanz Steiner Verlag.

Within a single decade (334–325 BC) Alexander III of Macedon conquered much of the known world of his time, creating an empire that stretched from the Balkans to India and southern Egypt. His clear intention of establishing permanent dominion over this huge and culturally diverse territory raises questions about whether and how he tried to legitimate his position and about the reactions of various groups subject to his rule: Macedonians, Greeks, the army, indigenous elites. Starting from Max Weber’s “Herrschaftssoziologie”, the 15 authors discuss Alexander’s strategies of legitimation as well as the motives his subjects may have had for offering him obedience. The analysis of monarchical representation and political communication in these case-studies on symbolic performances and economic, administrative and religious measures sheds new light on the reasons for the swift Macedonian conquest: It appears that Alexander and his staff owed their success not only to their military talent but also to their communication skills and their capacity to cater to the expectations of their audiences.

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Books

In the Path of Conquest

Heckel, Waldemar. 2020. In the Path of Conquest: Resistance to Alexander the Great. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This book offers a fresh insight into the conquests of Alexander the Great by attempting to view the events of 336-323 BCE from the vantage point of the defeated. The extent and form of the resistance of the populations he confronted varied according to their previous relationships with either the Macedonian invaders or their own Achaemenid rulers. The internal political situations of many states–particularly the Greek cities of Asia Minor–were also a factor. In the vast Persian Empire that stretched from the Aegean to the Indus, some states surrendered voluntarily and others offered fierce resistance. Not all regions were subdued through military actions. Indeed, as the author argues, the excessive use of force on Alexander’s part was often ineffective and counterproductive.

In the Path of Conquest examines the reasons for these varied responses, giving more emphasis to the defeated and less to the conqueror and his Macedonian army. In the process, it debunks many long-held views concerning Alexander’s motives, including the idea that his aim was to march to the eastern limits of the world. It also provides a fresh reevaluation of Darius III’s successes and failures as a commander. Such a study involves rigorous analysis of the ancient sources, and their testimony is presented throughout the book in the form of newly translated passages. A unique portrait of a well-known age, In the Path of Conquest will significantly alter our understanding of Alexander’s career.

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Journal

Anabasis. Studia Classica et Orientalia – Volume 9

Volume nine (2018) of Anabasis. Studia Classica et Orientalia, edited by Marek Jan Olbrycht, is out now. Several papers and reviews of the issue relate to ancient Iran:

Table of Contents:

ISSUE 1: MACEDONES, PERSIA ET ULTIMA ORIENTIS

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Articles

Alexander III, Darius I and the land acquired by spears

Degen, Julian. 2019. Alexander III, Darius I and the Spear-Derived Land (Diode 17, 17, 2). Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History 6(1): 53–95.

This article aims to shed new light on Diodorus’ episode about Alexander’s crossing of the Hellespont by bringing ancient Near Eastern evidence into discussion. I assume that Diodorus’ “report” is a nesting of three different narrative-elements woven to a composition which provides a purposeful view ex post facto on the event in 334 BCE. By showing that Alexander adapted Achaemenid strategies to legitimize his power over the new won empire as well his awareness of older Mesopotamian geographical ideas, this article argues that the Argead ruler exposed himself with predominant concepts of ancient Near Eastern kingship. The argumentation underlines for the most part that Diod. 17, 17, 2 is an intentional episode containing Greek-Macedonian propaganda and Persian elements. Especially the famous scene of Alexander hurling a spear in the coast of Asia Minor and the belief that the Persian empire is a gift of the gods root in Teispid and Achaemenid royal ideology. However, Diodorus’ portrayal of Alexander as the first of the Macedons who landed on the coast is an element of his propaganda used during the early phase of his conquest. Finally, this article aims to bring new insights into the discussion about Alexander being the “last Achaemenid”.

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Books

The Historiography of Alexander the Great

Nawotka, Krzysztof, Robert Rollinger, Josef Wiesehöfer & Agnieszka Wojciechowska (eds.). 2019. The Historiography of Alexander the Great (Classica et Orientalia 20). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.


This volume tries to tackle the most serious problem facing modern Alexander the Great studies: that of inadequate sources. Its principal interest is in surviving ancient continuous accounts (Diodorus, Curtius Rufus, Plutarch, Arrian, and Justin), which are at least three hundred years younger than Alexander and in many ways one-sided in their Greek bias, often promoting the view of Alexander within the narrow bounds of a Western conqueror. The papers in this volume deconstruct these accounts and search for sources used by their authors, principally in narrative of eye-witnesses and other authors of the first generation after Alexander, including his court historian Callisthenes and his companions Onesicritus, Aristobulus, and Ptolemy. They search for fragments of ancient literary works known from papyri and for shadowy accounts created on the Persian side like the “mercenaries’ source”. Some papers look into propaganda patterns of the age of Alexander and their connections with clichés of Egyptian literature. Some investigate a parallel tradition on the last will of Alexander, enshrined in I Maccabees, and best known from the Alexander Romance. Finally, papers in this volume examine post-classical rendition of Alexander: Jewish from the Talmud to Josippon and Byzantine, composed of separate textual traditions of various ancient authors, with Plutarch taking pride of place.

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Books

Alexander der Große

Müller, Sabine. 2019. Alexander der Große. Eroberungen – Politik – Rezeption. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.

Alexander III. von Makedonien (356-323 v. Chr.) gilt als einer der größten Eroberer der Antike. Bereits zu seinen Lebzeiten wurden gezielt um seine Person und Politik Mythen gewoben. Seit der Antike polarisieren die schillernd konstruierten Kunstfiguren, zu denen Alexander stilisiert wurde. Fakten wurden dabei von Fiktionen überlagert. Sabine Müller dekonstruiert diese artifiziellen Images und zeichnet die Politik der historischen Person Alexander nach, der in den Traditionen seiner Dynastie, der Argeaden, stand und auf die politischen Zwänge innerhalb seines expandierenden Reichs achten musste.

Professor Dr. Sabine Müller ist Inhaberin des Lehrstuhls für Alte Geschichte an der Universität Marburg.

Source: Alexander der Große, Sabine Müller bei Dienst am Buch Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH

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Books

The Greek Experience of India

Stoneman, Richard. 2019. The Greek Experience of India: From Alexander to the Indo-Greeks. Princeton University Press.


When the Greeks and Macedonians in Alexander’s army reached India in 326 BCE, they entered a new and strange world. They knew a few legends and travelers’ tales, but their categories of thought were inadequate to encompass what they witnessed. The plants were unrecognizable, their properties unknown. The customs of the people were various and puzzling. While Alexander’s conquest was brief, ending with his death in 323 BCE, the Greeks would settle in the Indian region for the next two centuries, forging an era of productive interactions between the two cultures. The Greek Experience of India explores the various ways that the Greeks reacted to and constructed life in India during this fruitful period.

From observations about botany and mythology to social customs, Richard Stoneman examines the surviving evidence of those who traveled to India. Most particularly, he offers a full and valuable look at Megasthenes, ambassador of the King Seleucus to Chandragupta Maurya, and provides a detailed discussion of Megasthenes’ now-fragmentary book Indica. Stoneman considers the art, literature, and philosophy of the Indo-Greek kingdom and how cultural influences crossed in both directions, with the Greeks introducing their writing, coinage, and sculptural and architectural forms, while Greek craftsmen learned to work with new materials such as ivory and stucco and to probe the ideas of Buddhists and other ascetics.

Relying on an impressively wide variety of sources from the Indian subcontinent, The Greek Experience of India is a masterful account of the encounters between two remarkable civilizations.

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Books

Alexander the Great From His Death to the Present Day

Boardman, John. 2019. Alexander the Great From His Death to the Present Day. Princeton University Press.


John Boardman is one of the world’s leading authorities on ancient Greece, and his acclaimed books command a broad readership. In this book, he looks beyond the life of Alexander the Great in order to examine the astonishing range of Alexanders created by generations of authors, historians, and artists throughout the world—from Scotland to China.

Alexander’s defeat of the Persian Empire in 331 BC captured the popular imagination, inspiring an endless series of stories and representations that emerged shortly after his death and continues today. An art historian and archaeologist, Boardman draws on his deep knowledge of Alexander and the ancient world to reflect on the most interesting and emblematic depictions of this towering historical figure.

Some of the stories in this book relate to historical events associated with Alexander’s military career and some to the fantasy that has been woven around him, and Boardman relates each with his customary verve and erudition. From Alexander’s biographers in ancient Greece to the illustrated Alexander “Romances” of the Middle Ages to operas, films, and even modern cartoons, this generously illustrated volume takes readers on a fascinating cultural journey as it delivers a perfect pairing of subject and author.

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Books

The Alexander Romance: History and Literature

Stoneman, Richard, Krzysztof Nawotka & Agnieszka Wojciechowska (eds.). 2018. The Alexander Romance: History and literature. Barkhuis.

The Alexander Romance is a difficult text to define and to assess justly. From its earliest days it was an open text, which was adapted into a variety of cultures with meanings that themselves vary, and yet seem to carry a strong undercurrent of homogeneity: Alexander is the hero who cannot become a god, and who encapsulates the desires and strivings of the host cultures.
The papers assembled in this volume, which were originally presented at a conference at the University of Wrocław, Poland, in October 2015, all face the challenge of defining the Alexander Romance. Some focus on quite specific topics while others address more overarching themes. They form a cohesive set of approaches to the delicate positioning of the text between history and literature. From its earliest elements in Hellenistic Egypt, to its latest reworkings in the Byzantine and Islamic Middle East, the Alexander Romance shows itself to be a work that steadily engages with such questions as kingship, the limits of human (and Greek) nature, and the purpose of history. The Romance began as a history, but only by becoming literature could it achieve such a deep penetration of east and west.

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Books

The Reception of Alexander the Great

Moore, Kenneth Royce (ed.). 2018. Brill’s companion to the reception of Alexander the Great. Leiden & Boston: Brill.

Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Alexander the Great offers a considerable range of topics, of interest to students and academics alike, in the long tradition of this subject’s significant impact, across a sometimes surprising and comprehensive variety of areas. Arguably no other historical figure has cast such a long shadow for so long a time. Every civilisation touched by the Macedonian Conqueror, along with many more that he never imagined, has scrambled to “own” some part of his legacy. This volume canvasses a comprehensive array of these receptions, beginning from Alexander’s own era and journeying up to the present, in order to come to grips with the impact left by this influential but elusive figure.