Alexander the Great
Myth, Genesis and Sexuality
By Daniel Ogden
Subjects: Classical Studies and Ancient History
What are ancient texts saying to us when they describe Alexander the Great’s romantic relationship with his wife Barsine, or comment on his homosexual relationship with Hephaestion? What did it mean when the ancient writers told that Alexander had been sired by a thunderbolt or by a gigantic snake? What did it mean when they represented his mother Olympias as a witch?
These are the sorts of question addressed in Alexander the Great: Myth and Sexuality. In his latest book, Daniel Ogden discusses the mythologizing of procreation and sex in the ancient traditions surrounding Alexander.
'A quick review of...chapter titles will suggest that the first half...answers the title's promise of 'myth' and the second half that of 'sexuality', but in fact the entire volume is devoted to what may be termed 'myth' of one sort or another. Its central and unifying subject is the mythologizing of procreation and sex in the traditions surrounding the figure of Alexander the Great: accordingly, it comprises both treatments of the narratives spun around his own siring and birth on the one hand, and treatments of the narratives spun around the king's own procreative and sexual career on the other. A significant amount of this mythologizing...took root in Alexander's own age. The remainder of it is the product of subsequent tradition, a tradition that was evidently in vigorous development already within a few years of Alexander's death' - (from the author's Introduction).
Contents: Preface; Introduction; 1. Son of the Thunderbolt: Alexander's birth myths and their dates; 2. Son of the Snake: the original identity of Alexander's snake sire; 3. Son of the Ram: Alexander as heir to the Macedonian foundation myths; 4. Son of the Eagle: the heirs to Alexander's birth myths; 5. Son of the Witch: traditions of polygamy in the Macedonian court; 6. Alexander's wives in fact and tradition; 7. Alexander's dalliances; 8. Alexander's men in fact and tradition; 9. Alexander the gynnis; Bibliography; Index.
‘will repay the attention of a readership far broader than the community of Alexander and Hellenistic scholars to which it is obviously directed.’ (Thomas M Banchich Bryn Mawr Classical Review May 2012)
Daniel Ogden is Professor of Ancient History, University of Exeter. He has published substantially on the ancient world; his previous books include Greek Bastardy in the Classical and Hellenistic Periods (OUP, 1996), The Crooked Kings of Ancient Greece (Duckworth, 1997), Greek and Roman Necromancy (Princeton University Press, 2001), Magic, witchcraft and ghosts in the Greek and Roman worlds: a sourcebook (OUP USA, 2002), A Companion to Greek Religion (edited, Blackwell, 2007). Perseus. Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World Series (Routledge, 2008).