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.
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
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.
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”
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.
The ancient Greco-Roman sources on the history of Alexander III and the Successors contain numerous episodes on diverse forms of Macedonian violence. Viewed from a mocking, moralistic perspective, the Macedonians served as a distorted mirror in which Greeks and Romans asserted their identities. The theme of Macedonian violence was also present in Greek comedy. This volume explores four case studies aiming at the deconstruction of these Greco-Roman topoi. The articles examine images of the Macedonians, Alexander, and Demetrius Poliorcetes analyzing the dimensions and expressions of Greco-Roman bias and its socio-political background.
Table of contents
Time Howe & Sabine Müller: “Introduction: Does the cliché suffice?”
Sulochana Asirvatham: “Youthful Folly and Intergenerational Violence in Greco-Roman Narratives on Alexander the Great”
Matti Borchert: “Between Debauchery and Ludicrousness – Alexander the Great and the Golden Plane Tree”
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 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.
The essays in this volume – written by twenty international scholars – are dedicated to Professor Brian Bosworth who has, in over forty-five years, produced arguably the most influential corpus of historical and historiographical research by one scholar. Professor Bosworth’s name is often synonymous with scholarship on Alexander the Great, but his expertise also spreads far wider, as the scope of these essays demonstrates. The collection’s coverage ranges from Egyptian and Homeric parallels, through Roman historiography, to Byzantine coinage. However, the life of Alexander provides the volume’s central theme, and among the topics explored are the conqueror’s resonance with mythological figures such as Achilles and Heracles, his divine pretensions and military display, and his motives for arresting his expedition at the River Hyphasis in India. Some of Alexander’s political acts are also scrutinized, as are the identities of those supposedly present in the last symposium where, according to some sources, the fatal poison was administered to the king. Part of the collection focuses on Alexander’s legacy, with seven essays examining the Successors, especially Craterus, and Ptolemy, and Alexander’s Ill-fated surviving dynasty, including Olympias, Eurydice, and Philip III Arrhidaeus. Readership: Scholars and students interested in the life of Alexander the Great, and historiography, ancient history and civilizations, and mythology more generally.
The Seleucid Empire (311–64 BCE) was unlike anything the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds had seen. Stretching from present-day Bulgaria to Tajikistan—the bulk of Alexander the Great’s Asian conquests—the kingdom encompassed a territory of remarkable ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity; yet it did not include Macedonia, the ancestral homeland of the dynasty. The Land of the Elephant Kings investigates how the Seleucid kings, ruling over lands to which they had no historic claim, attempted to transform this territory into a coherent and meaningful space.
Based on recent archaeological evidence and ancient primary sources, Paul J. Kosmin’s multidisciplinary approach treats the Seleucid Empire not as a mosaic of regions but as a land unified in imperial ideology and articulated by spatial practices. Kosmin uncovers how Seleucid geographers and ethnographers worked to naturalize the kingdom’s borders with India and Central Asia in ways that shaped Roman and later medieval understandings of “the East.” In the West, Seleucid rulers turned their backs on Macedonia, shifting their sense of homeland to Syria. By mapping the Seleucid kings’ travels and studying the cities they founded—an ambitious colonial policy that has influenced the Near East to this day—Kosmin shows how the empire’s territorial identity was constructed on the ground. In the empire’s final century, with enemies pressing harder and central power disintegrating, we see that the very modes by which Seleucid territory had been formed determined the way in which it fell apart.