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United in grief: Achilles, Alexander and Hadrian

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-10-26, 22:45 authored by Lauren Murphy

Since the publication of Andrew Stewart’s 1993 book Faces of Power, the existing historical tradition that Alexander the Great intentionally emulated the Homeric hero, Achilles, has become further entrenched. Stewart’s suggestion that Alexander believed that he was a reincarnation of the protagonist of the Iliad has similarly gained acceptance (Stewart 1993, p. 80). The literary evidence for a deliberately fostered link between the two figures is tantalising and this theory has gained a lot of traction with the idea that “Alexander is... trying to become one with Achilles” now ingrained among scholars (Carney 2000, pp. 275-277; Scheer 2007, p. 218; Minchin 2012, pp. 83-84; Zeitlin 2012; Gabriel 2015, p. 76). As an alternative to this established perspective, I suggest that Arrian deliberately reinforced the connection between Alexander and Achilles when describing the death of Hephaestion in the Anabasisso that a third ruler, the Roman Emperor Hadrian, could benefit from this association.


Australian Government Research Training Program | RTPS


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New Classicists




9p. (p. 59-67)


Kings College

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