Alexander the Great

Pierre Briant

in The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199286140
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Alexander the Great

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This article argues that the centrality of Alexander the Great to the study of imperialism and cultural transfer can scarcely be in doubt. Indeed, the subject of Alexander is so heavily studied that people might well demand a justification for any new discussions of the Macedonian conqueror. Historiography proves to be one element in the scholarship that has been relatively neglected, a situation which is exemplified by the lack of any systematic account of Alexander studies from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. A long-term view of the historiography would show that Droysen's picture of Alexander was less original than previously believed, and that it was prefigured in some significant respects by Montesquieu. The discussion also argues that progress in the field is likely to come when historians better account for the Achaemenid and Near Eastern milieux in which Alexander flourished and ruled.

Keywords: imperialism; cultural transfer; Macedonia; historiography; Montesquieu; Droysen; Achaemenid

Article.  3944 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Greek History ; Greek and Roman Archaeology

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