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Alexander: Destiny and Myth

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Few figures from history have aroused as much admiration as Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king who, between 334 and 323 B.C., conquered the immense Persian Empire, led his army as far as India, and transformed the known world. Even in antiquity, he was an almost mythical hero, and over the centuries he has been remembered as the paragon of martial brilliance. But for the historian, Alexander presents both a tantalizing subject and a formidable challenge. For all his achievements, there is very little direct...

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Overview

Few figures from history have aroused as much admiration as Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king who, between 334 and 323 B.C., conquered the immense Persian Empire, led his army as far as India, and transformed the known world. Even in antiquity, he was an almost mythical hero, and over the centuries he has been remembered as the paragon of martial brilliance. But for the historian, Alexander presents both a tantalizing subject and a formidable challenge. For all his achievements, there is very little direct evidence of his existence — a few inscriptions, some coins and portraits, and allusions to him in speeches of the day — and the oldest surviving accounts of his life were written three or more centuries after his death.

In Alexander: Destiny and Myth, distinguished historian Claude Mossé rigorously and imaginatively draws on a vast array of sources to create an indelible portrait of Alexander as conqueror, man, and legend. Carefully navigating between fact and fable, Mossé offers a compelling new assessment of Alexander and his legacy in five concise sections. From his ascension to the throne of Macedon in 336 B.C. in the wake of his father's assassination to his stunning conquest of Darius III's Persian empire, his Indian campaign, and his premature death at age 32, Mossé first reconstructs the major stages of Alexander's reign. She next explores the perception of Alexander — as a ruler and even a god — among the diverse peoples he governed, paying special attention to the cities he founded. Mossé then turns to the elusive question of Alexander's character, offering provocative insights on this millennia-olddebate. The book's final two parts concern Alexander's legacy, both immediate — the fate of his empire and the limits of his accomplishments, particularly his attempt to Hellenize the east — and far reaching — the idea of Alexander as a mythical hero from antiquity to the present by way of ancient, medieval, early modern, and twentieth-century words and images.

At once sweeping, succinct, and spellbinding, Alexander: Destiny and Myth is a strikingly fresh account of the man who continues to intrigue and excite the historical imagination twenty-five hundred years after his death.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801879968
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.15 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Claude Mossé is Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris VIII and one of the world's leading historians of ancient Greece, with more than twenty book on the subject. Paul Cartledge is Professor of Greek History, Chairman of the Faculty of Classics, and a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. Among his many books are The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization and Spartan Reflections.

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Table of Contents

'Some more talk of Alexander'
Introduction 5
Pt. I The Major Stages of Alexander's Reign
1 The Graeco-Oriental world at Alexander's succession 11
2 The beginning of Alexander's reign: the revolt of Thebes 18
3 The conquest of the western provinces of the Persian Empire 22
4 The conquest of the eastern provinces and the end of the Asian campaign 32
Pt. II The Different 'Faces' of Alexander
5 The king of the Macedonians 47
6 The hegemon of the Greeks 55
7 The successor to the Achaemenids 66
8 The son of Zeus 73
Pt. III Alexander the Man
9 Youth and upbringing 89
10 Alexander's personality 94
11 Light and shade 103
Pt. IV The Legacy of Alexander
12 Alexander's empire: a fragile construction 113
13 The invention of a new type of monarchy 124
14 The birth of a 'new world' 140
15 The Hellenisation of the East, and its limits 151
Pt. V Alexander the Mythical Hero
16 The image of Alexander in the ancient world 167
17 The medieval Alexander 178
18 The image of Alexander in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France 189
19 The historians and Alexander's image 197
20 From the Alexander Romance to novels about Alexander 202
Conclusion 211
Alexander's principal Companions 215
Chronology 221
The succession of the Achaemenid kings 223
Bibliography 225
Supplementary bibliography 229
Translator's note 231
Index 233
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