Alexander said, “I assure you I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion.” Life of Alexander. Plutarch

Whenever Alexander heard Philip had taken any town of importance, or won any signal victory, instead of rejoicing at it altogether, he would tell his companions that his father would anticipate everything, and leave him and them no opportunities of perform…

When Alexander asked Diogenes whether he wanted anything, “Yes,” said he, “I would have you stand from between me and the sun.”

Alexander wept when he heard from Anaxarchus that there was an infinite number of worlds; and his friends asking him if any accident had befallen him, he returns this answer: “Do you not think it a matter worthy of lamentation that when there is such… On the Tranquillity of the Mind.

When Darius offered him ten thousand talents, and to divide Asia equally with him, “I would accept it,” said Parmenio, “were I Alexander.” “And so truly would I,” said Alexander, “if I were Parmenio.”   Apophthegms of Kings and Great Commanders.

These are just a few examples of how Alexander occupied the mind of the greatest chonicler of the ancient Greeks and Romans and may explain why Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, who was actually a Greek – Ploútarkhos – from a town 20 miles west of Delphi, passed the tradition into western literature. Stoneman’s book is a fine history of the intellectual tradition that has derived therefrom.

Alexander the Great : a life in legend Richard Stoneman  Alexander, the Great, 356-323 B.C. Romances History and criticism  New Haven [Conn.] ; London : Yale University Press, c 2008 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xvii, 314 p. : ill. (some col.), maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [284]-305) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG    

Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) precipitated immense historical change in the Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds. But the resonance his legend achieved over the next two millennia stretched even farther—across foreign cultures, religious traditions, and distant nations.

This engaging and handsomely illustrated book for the first time gathers together hundreds of the colorful Alexander legends that have been told and retold around the globe. Richard Stoneman, a foremost expert on the Alexander myths, introduces us first to the historical Alexander and then to the Alexander of legend, an unparalleled mythic icon who came to represent the heroic ideal in cultures from Egypt to Iceland, from Britain to Malaya.

Alexander came to embody the concerns of Hellenistic man; he fueled Roman ideas on tyranny and kingship; he was a talisman for fourth-century pagans and a hero of chivalry in the early Middle Ages. He appears in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic writings, frequently as a prophet of God. Whether battling winged foxes or meeting with the Amazons, descending to the underworld or inventing the world’s first diving bell, Alexander inspired as a hero, even a god. Stoneman traces Alexander’s influence in ancient literature and folklore and in later literatures of east and west. His book provides the definitive account of the legends of Alexander the Great—a powerful leader in life and an even more powerful figure in the history of literature and ideas.


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