8 February 2014
Book Report: Alexander the Great: A Life in Legend
“From Icelandic to Romanian, from Irish to Italian, from Russian, Serbian and Czech to English and Spanish, there is no language that does not have at least one Alexander Romance in its portfolio” (19-20). For centuries, the life of Alexander the Great has played an influential role in support of cultures all over the globe. Since 1984, Richard Stoneman devoted himself to research and study at various universities in pursuit of answers for the questions of where the legends featuring Alexander the Great originated and developed. In the 2008 work of Alexander the Great: A Life in Legend, Richard Stoneman does not simply produce a biography of Alexander’s life similar to most other works concerning the life of Alexander. Instead, he creates a scholarly analysis of the varying myths and legends that developed after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE. He makes use of the romanticized stories, from the Alexander Romance that was written in numerous languages after his death. Stoneman’s intellectual work successfully explores the legends of Alexander the Great, including information about where they came from and their developments through cultural upbringings. Stoneman realizes that the romantic, influential legend of Alexander the Great transformed and varied not only through space and time but also in the nature of the Roman-era accounts derived from Arrian, Plutarch, Curtius, Justin, and Diodorus Siculus. While we cannot take these sources as purely factual, we can, nevertheless, use all of these ancient source materials together to formulate and make sense of the events that took place in antiquity. Stoneman does exactly this, but furthermore, he uses these historic sources as well as romantic sources to understand and explain the legends surrounding the life of Alexander the Great. He purposefully begins each chapter with direct quotes not only from the Alexander Romance,...
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