Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Book Review: Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction

London Review of Books

Review by James Davidson: Bonkers about Boys
Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction edited by A.B. Bosworth and E.J. Baynham

A rich and highly enjoyable review, which is a feast in itself. It dates to November 2001 (hence the reference to millennial panic), but I found it so entertaining that I've added it anyway:

For those suffering from millennial panic about the current state of history – all those Postmodernists on the non-fiction bestseller lists, all those fact-deniers occupying important professorial chairs, all those poor students who know what Marie Antoinette had for breakfast but not how she died – classics departments all over the country are offering courses of therapy: Alexander the Great.

In Alexanderland scholarship remains largely untouched by the influences which have transformed history and classics since 1945. Some great beasts, having wandered in, can still be found here decades later, well beyond reach of the forces of evolution. Secluded behind the high, impassable peaks of prosopography, military history and, above all, Quellenforschung, Alexander historians do what Alexander historians have done for more than a hundred years: try to discover the facts about Alexander the Great between his accession to the throne of Macedon in October 336 and his death in Babylon on the evening of 10 June 323 BC; what really happened on the expedition, what really happened during the three big battles against the Persians, what really happened during the march into India and back again, what happened to Alexander, what happened at Court.

Unfortunately, the facts come, in A.B. Bosworth’s words, from ‘derivative writings from the Roman period which draw upon the lost histories of Alexander’. These derivative writings are carefully ranked.

See the above page for the full article.

1 comment:

Eon said...

Interesting. Indeed, people througough history have never thought they were being part of history.. same is today. Historical eras designations modern humans have assigned will surely be redefined at some point in the future and our "post-moddern" age may as well turn to be something like "The end of the dark ages". Hopefully.

I wonder what is the metaphorical connection between Marie Antoinette and Alexander the Great? Why these two names often are to found together in some symbolic allusions?