The Greek Alexander Romance (Penguin Classics)
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Since his death in the third century BC, each age has woven its own legends around the figure of Alexander the Great.
If the Hebrew tradition saw him as a preacher and prophet, to the Persians he was alternately a true king and an arch-Satan, while in modern Greece he is revered more as a wise man than as a conqueror. All these very disparate traditions share roots in The Greek Alexander Romance.
One of the most influential works of late classical Greek literature, it reached Europe in the Middle Ages, and its effects are still visible to us in illuminated manuscripts and cathedral sculptures portraying Alexander's fabulous adventures - his taming of the horse Bucephalus, the encounters with Amazons and Brahmins, the quest for the Water of Life, the ascent to heaven in a basket borne by eagles. Nowadays the Romance should be read not only as a literary masterpiece but also as fast-paced and wonderfully exuberant entertainment.
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liver fixed to the point. At once the birds soared up to seize the livers, and I rose up with them into the air, until I thought I must be close to the sky. I shivered all over because of the extreme coldness of the air, caused by the beating of the birds’ wings. ‘Soon a flying creature in the form of a man approached me and said, “O Alexander, you have not yet secured the whole earth, and are you now exploring the heavens? Return to earth as fast as possible, or you will become food for these
have prepared for him. Then you will have your enemy in your power, and you can take your vengeance at your pleasure.’ The brothers trusted him and gave up their quarrel. Candace was amazed at Alexander’s cunning. ‘Antigonus,’ she said, ‘I wish you were my son, for then I should have conquered every nation. It is not by fighting that you have overcome so many enemies and cities, but by your cleverness.’ Alexander was delighted at the protection he received from Candace’s determination to keep
We cannot deal with men like these. We are afraid that the end of our good fortune will come on us when we have subdued the whole world; mat we shall be satiated with human food and will turn to that of beasts; and the evil is compounded, because no one in the world will remember us.’ Alexander was angry and said, ‘It is not up to me to turn back, but is in the hands of fate. I often wanted to, but could not. We must yield to fate and not delay.’ At this they were all silent and surrendered
derive from local histories of Alexandria and are an important clue to the place of origin of the Romance. 29. The Greek for ‘wide of the mark’ is paratonon. 30. taphos means ‘grave’, ‘tomb’. 31. The fuller A-text names sixteen villages. The L-text names none. 32. These details, given only in A, are very corrupt and were probably left out in later recensions because of their obscurity. 33. The Greek word is hormei. 34. Europhoros and Eurylichos; A has Eurylochos for both. 35. See n. 34.
and is, actually in Pasargadae, about 25 miles north-east of Persepolis. Its appearance bears no resemblance to this fictional description. 73. The Caspian Gates were the complex of defiles south-east of Rai and the modern city of Tehran which linked Media with the eastern satrapies. 74. Ecbatana (modern Hamadan). 75. This speech of Alexander’s, and Darius’ reply, are given in verse in A. 76. The meaning of this sentence is very uncertain. The Armenian, Syriac and A versions have differing,