Cover image for Alexander the Great : the unique history of Quintus Curtius
Alexander the Great : the unique history of Quintus Curtius
Baynham, Elizabeth, 1958-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xiv, 237 pages ; 24 cm
Abbreviations -- Introduction -- "Roman" Curtius -- Quintus Curtius' sources and his historical methods -- Fortuna -- Regnum in the First Pentad: Alexander and Darius -- Regnum in the Second Pentad: Alexander, king, general, and tyrant -- Appendix: the problem of Curtius' date and identity -- Bibliography -- Index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library DF234 .B356 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Alexander the Great has remained a source of fascination since antiquity. The empire he created spanned the huge distance from Greece through the Middle East to India, at a time when defending such an enormous frontier was all but unheard of. The tools Alexander used with such success were a superb army, marvelous skills of organization, and his own charismatic personality. The literary tradition surrounding the Macedonian conqueror is similarly rich, contradictory, and complex, and was so right from Alexander's death in 323 b.c.e. Much of what we know of Alexander comes down to us in the history of Quintus Curtius, who wrote a history of Alexander from his own contemporary perspective. In her book, Elizabeth Baynham explores Curtius' historical style and his fascinating presentation of this legendary king. In order to investigate what aspects of Alexander's person and reign interested ancient writers, and to understand what any ancient historian chose to preserve about Alexander, it is important to explore the historian's use of ancient sources and methods. Baynham's highly accessible work addresses all of these issues. She assumes that Curtius belonged to the first century c.e.--a very important period for historiographical writing aside from interest in Alexander-- and her discussion explores his literary heritage, the influence of his predecessors, and the importance of his style. Most notably, the volume explores the results of grouping Curtius and other historians of Alexander without considering their literary style and contemporary political concerns, and it also demonstrates that Curtius' work was a carefully planned narrative. Curtius was not only interested inpresenting Alexander as a savvy ruler and accomplished tactician, but also as a human subject to the whims of chance, of fortuna. This volume is a solid contribution to studies of Alexander the Great as well as to Greek and Roman historiography. It will appeal to students of Alexander, but also to those with interests in Roman values and ancient literary composition. Elizabeth Baynham is lecturer in Classics at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

Author Notes

Elizabeth Baynham is Senior Lecturer in Classics, University of Newcastle

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Alexander the Great is a figure of endless fascination, and Alexander historiography remains a lively and fertile occupation for classicists and ancient historians. Baynham's study focuses on the first century CE account of Alexander's career by the Roman historian Quintus Curtius. Much of the book is taken up with investigation of the literary and rhetorical antecedents of Curtius's history, but Baynham ultimately offers many fascinating insights into the Alexander tradition, both ancient and modern, the key episodes of his career, and the particular character of Curtius's account. Through this study, the reader develops a deeper respect for what has often been dismissed as a derivative source of minor significance. Although the full value of Baynham's work will be appreciated only by the specialist, even the novice Alexander enthusiast will gain much from it. All Latin passages are translated. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. R. P. Legon University of Baltimore

Table of Contents

Abbreviationsp. xi
Chapter 1. Introductionp. 1
Chapter 2. "Roman" Curtiusp. 15
Chapter 3. Quintus Curtius' Sources and His Historical Methodsp. 57
Chapter 4. Fortunap. 101
Chapter 5. Regnum in the First Pentad: Alexander and Dariusp. 132
Chapter 6. Regnum in the Second Pentad: Alexander, King, General, and Tyrantp. 165
Appendix The Problem of Curtius' Date and Identityp. 201
Bibliographyp. 221
Indexp. 227

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