The construction of Alexander the Great’s Reputation

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A great body of myths, legends, and historical facts about a person have always been accepted in the written or oral tradition. This is the way people understood historic figures. For some of the chief peoples of the world like those of the Near East and of ancient Europe, the attempts to particularly distinguish between legends and historical fact have been a long and hard.

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According to (Stoneman, 1991), it is not only legends that must be separated from historical events and conditions, but also myths and a people’s mythology. This is true in the case of Alexander the Great’s mythology, which has been supported for political and military purposes. The historic interpretation of this famous figure is reflected in the understanding of the Macedonian and the Midetteranian cultures whose social and cultural development was highly affected by various degrees of confusion in this whole image of myth and historical data, (Stoneman, 1994).

Alexander the Great (356“323 B.C.) is considered the greatest military genius of the ancient world. He conquered countries from Greece to Egypt and through Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. He succeeded in building a kingdom and at the same time expanding it. Alexander spent thirteen years of his reign working to unite East and West through military campaigns and cultural exchange. Alexander’s reputation grew so quickly that by the time of his death at age 32 he was seen as having divine aspects. This is why historians mentioned that it isn’t easy to separate fact and myth from the stories told about Alexander over the centuries, (S?©lincourt, 1997).

Green, (1991) mentions that those familiar with the Greek and Roman literature know how full it is with allusions to myths and legends. Readers of the biography of Alexander the Great realize how saturated with shadows, and even mirages of tradition it is. Plutarch, a Greek writer who wrote about the lives of great Roman and Greek figures in history, wrote about Alexander the Great. Plutarch lived four centuries after Alexander died. He discussed the earlier years of the Macedonian conqueror. The first aspect he described were the legends about Alexander’s birth and his divine ancestry. According to the legend, Alexander’s mother Olympias dreamed that her womb was struck by lightning on the day she married Alexander’s father, Philip II. Waterfield (1998) mentions that also his father had a dream in which he secured his wife’s womb with a lion’s image. Plutarch’s interpretations for these dreams were that Zeus was the father of Alexander. Another legend Plutarch mentioned is that because Olympias was accompanied by a serpent lying by her side, Philip II believed that Olympias was the partner of a superior being.

Ancient sources differ in their opinion about these legends, but some state that Alexander’s mother told him all the time about his divine parentage.

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