Cover image for Alexander : destiny and myth
Alexander : destiny and myth
Mossé, Claude, 1924-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Alexandre. English
Publication Information:
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xi, 244 pages : maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
"Alexandre: la destinée d'un mythe first published in French in 2001 by Éditions Payot & Rivages"--T.p. verso.

Format :


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DF234 .M6713 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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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 evidence of his existencea few inscriptions, some coins and portraits, and allusions to him in speeches of the dayand the oldest surviving accounts of his life were written three or more centuries after his death.

In Alexander: Destiny and Myth, distinguished historian Claude Moss#65533; 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, Moss#65533; 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, Moss#65533; first reconstructs the major stages of Alexander's reign. She next explores the perception of Alexanderas a ruler and even a godamong the diverse peoples he governed, paying special attention to the cities he founded. Moss#65533; then turns to the elusive question of Alexander's character, offering provocative insights on this millennia-old debate. The book's final two parts concern Alexander's legacy, both immediatethe fate of his empire and the limits of his accomplishments, particularly his attempt to Hellenize the eastand far reachingthe 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.

Author Notes

Claude Mosse is Emeritus Professor at the University of Paris VIII.
Paul Cartledge is a professor of Greek history, chairman of the Faculty of Classics, and a fellow of Clare College, Cambridge

Reviews 1

Choice Review

There is seemingly no end to the making of books about Alexander. As Paul Cartledge reminds us in the preface to this one (presumably added to certify it for Anglo-American academics), we all make the past in our own image, and that goes for Alexander, too. Even in the narrow world of scholarship we get, among many others, Ulrich Wilcken's intellectual, W.W. Tarn's English gentleman, Fritz Schachermeyr's godlike fuhrer (duly modified for postwar consumption), and Ernst Badian's ruthlessly pragmatic conqueror. Novelists such as Mary Renault (not mentioned by Mosse), Klaus Mann, and the popular trilogist Valerio Massimo Manfredi explore the conqueror's private life in a variety of ways. The variations are endless. Thus, after a brisk run through Alexander's career, Mosse's monograph, in Janet Lloyd's seamlessly elegant translation, is largely a useful roundup of how the conqueror looked to others, then and later in history, from Macedonians to Racine and Voltaire. The conclusion? A courageous, militarily brilliant opportunist, yet an enigma, says Mosse; well, we knew that already. His legacy? The Hellenistic world, largely by accident. Ditto. As a first introduction to the problem? Useful for students, well documented, but surprisingly shy about Alexander's sexual psychology. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. P. M. Green University of Iowa

Table of Contents

Paul Cartledge
'Some more talk of Alexander'p. vii
Introductionp. 5
Part I The Major Stages of Alexander's Reign
1. The Graeco-Oriental world at Alexander's successionp. 11
2. The beginning of Alexander's reign: the revolt of Thebesp. 18
3. The conquest of the western provinces of the Persian Empirep. 22
4. The conquest of the eastern provinces and the end of the Asian campaignp. 32
Part II The Different 'Faces' of Alexander
5. The king of the Macedoniansp. 47
6. The hegemon of the Greeksp. 55
7. The successor to the Achaemenidsp. 66
8. The son of Zeusp. 73
Part III Alexander the Man
9. Youth and upbringingp. 89
10. Alexander's personalityp. 94
11. Light and shadep. 103
Part IV The Legacy of Alexander
12. Alexander's empire: a fragile constructionp. 113
13. The invention of a new type of monarchyp. 124
14. The birth of a 'new world'p. 140
15. The Hellenisation of the East, and its limitsp. 151
Part V Alexander the Mythical Hero
16. The image of Alexander in the ancient worldp. 167
17. The medieval Alexanderp. 178
18. The image of Alexander in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Francep. 189
19. The historians and Alexander's imagep. 197
20. From the Alexander Romance to novels about Alexanderp. 202
Conclusionp. 211
Alexander's principal Companionsp. 215
Chronologyp. 221
The succession of the Achaemenid kingsp. 223
Bibliographyp. 225
Supplementary bibliographyp. 229
Translator's notep. 231
Indexp. 233