Monday, March 12, 2012

Alexander and his Macedonian heirs

Al Ahram Weekly (Jill Kamil)

Macedonian conquest of Egypt, its consequences and its reflection in literature and art were the subject of an international workshop at the University of Warsaw towards the end of 2011. Its aim was to explore the means by which Alexander's successors, the Ptolemies -- who successfully ruled Egypt for three centuries and made it once more a brilliant kingdom -- systematically elevated and propagated Alexander's memory by identifying themselves with the deceased hero and reusing his visual and literary heritage.

The colourful personality of Alexander the Great has been memorialised in fiction, films and biographies. His death and multiple burials have long held fascination. Indeed, the search for his tomb continues. Seeking clues from material remains, today's scholars continue to unravel the compelling mysteries that surround his brief stay in Egypt.

Alexander, son of Philip II of Macedonia, had already made himself master of the disunited Greek world when, after defeating the Persians in the Levant, he marched on Egypt. The country was then under Persian rule and the Egyptians in a state of revolt against their overlords. It was not without enthusiasm, therefore, that they joined Alexander's march towards their capital Memphis where the Persian garrison was quickly discharged.

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