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The Greek Alexander Romance by…
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The Greek Alexander Romance

by Pseudo-Callisthenes

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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257368,909 (3.5)1
Mystery surrounds the parentage of Alexander, the prince born to Queen Olympias. Is his father Philip, King of Macedonia, or Nectanebo, the mysterious sorcerer who seduced the queen by trickery? One thing is certain: the boy is destined to conquer the known world. He grows up to fulfil this prophecy, building a mighty empire that spans from Greece and Italy to Africa and Asia. Begun soon after the real Alexander's death and expanded in the centuries that followed, The Greek Alexander Myth depicts the life and adventures of one of history's greatest heroes - taming the horse Bucephalus, meeting the Amazons and his quest to defeat the King of Persia. Including such elements of fantasy as Alexander's ascent to heaven borne by eagles, this literary masterpiece brilliantly evokes a lost age of heroism.… (more)

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As a story, this is Cecil B. DeMille to chant round the campfire. But as a document this is the East's take on the Great Macedonian. Either it's very reverent, or a not-so subtle put-down. But it was vastly more popular than Arrian or Curtius Rufus. To be read for completeness, but not to be loved. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Oct 21, 2013 |
The Legendary Adventures of Alexander the Great is the 13th book in the Penguin Epics collection. It is a translation by Richard Stoneman of a series of tales written in the centuries after Alexander's conquests. The Penguin Epics edition is a 104 page small book starting with mythology of Alexander's birth, outlining some of his interactions during his long period of conquest, and then a series of supernatural adventures.

The written style of Legendary Adventures makes for comfortable reading. The style and structure is simple. As this is a work built from a series of sources the translation makes for a smooth transition between the different phases. It is a technically well put together book.

However, the substance of the work and therefore of much of the original source really does not do Alexander the Great justice at all. It compares very poorly with the best military campaign book in the Penguin Epics series, The Sea, The Sea. As a descriptor of Alexander's conquests it is really quite poor. There is nothing at all of the action. There is nothing of real interest to an historian.

On the other hand, Legendary Adventures also falls very short in its efforts to be an interesting tale of a personality cult. The first chapter is retrospective propaganda designed to legitimise Alexander's conquest of Egypt. It is a really naive tale, lacking the persuasive credibility of the great propaganda in the ancient world.

The final full section is a silly depiction of Alexander's adventures towards and beyond the edge of the world. It is only of interest as a way of reinforcing the ancient world's fear of the wild. Peoples of ridiculous proportions and beasts attack Alexander. They are an illustration of the way the ancient world perceived the fabulous.

Alexander of Macedonia was of course the greatest conqueror in ancient European history. His story is unbelievable, the backwater of Maccedonia takes over the known world defeating the superpowers of the age including most famously Persia. The success against the odds would not be believable as fiction but as fact it is someting to marvel at. There are legendary adventures in Alexander's journey that overmatch everything in this work.

The Penguin Epics edition is mainly the story of Alexander and Darius writing to one another. This is ok just not especially interesting. The decline and defeat of Darius is a truly amazing phase in history but this work does not do much to tell the story. The sources just cannot have been very interesting. Alexander's story is one of the most important of the ancient world but this work does not ever really justify its presence in the outstanding Penguin Epics collection. ( )
  Malarchy | Jul 13, 2013 |
This is, of course, a wonderful book. It's a pity they had to choose just one version, but they include some supplements from other versions. ( )
  timspalding | Apr 12, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pseudo-Callisthenesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stoneman, RichardTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Rynck, PatrickTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
García Gual, CarlosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lacarrière, JacquesTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stoneman, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolohojian, Albert M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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