<i>Alexander of Pherae</i>: infelix <i>tyrant</i>

Sławomir Sprawski

in Ancient Tyranny

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780748621255
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651047 | DOI:
Alexander of Pherae: infelix tyrant

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A book on Greek tyranny should not lack a chapter on Alexander of Pherae, a man who was remembered throughout antiquity as one of the most ferocious and wicked tyrants. The longest description of Alexander can be found in Plutarch's Life of Pelopidas, in which he was depicted as an incurably brutish man, full of savagery, strong sexual desire, and cruelty. Plutarch reports that the death Alexander suffered at the hands of his wife was the only or the first such case among the tyrants. This chapter re-examines the reputation of Alexander of Pherae among Greek authors as an archetypally wicked tyrant, showing that his military successes and the good opinion of Isocrates indicate that his support must have been wider than the histories suggest. Although opposition from within and outside Thessaly reduced his chances of building a popular tageia of the kind that Jason had, Alexander should still be credited with political vision and aims beyond personal power.

Keywords: Alexander of Pherae; tyranny; tyrants; Plutarch; Pelopidas; Isocrates; Thessaly; Jason

Chapter.  5430 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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