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Alexander The Great In The Syriac Literary Tradition

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Chapter Summary


Alexander the Great, King of Macedon, was born in Pella in 356 B.C. The first recension (α) is represented by a single MS, A. It begins with the story of the last Pharaoh of Egypt, Nectanebus, who, seeing through his magic arts that his country will fall victim to Persian conquest, flees in disguise to Pella in Macedon. Gamma recension is the longest of the Greek recensions. The earliest Latin text, though the latest to become known, is the History of Alexander by Quintus Curtius Rufus. The main distinguishing feature of Curtius's history is its rhetorical color.Itinerarium Alexandri is a broadly historical work based on Arrian's authoritative history, but it also makes use of Julius Valerius's Res Gestae. The texts relating to the Romance tradition were however familiar in the early middle Ages and consequently exercised a far wider influence on medieval literature.

Keywords:Alexander; alpha recension; gamma recension; itinerarium alexandri; medieval period; Quintus Curtius Rufus


Alexander's story permeated many genres of medieval Arabic literature including history, geography, wisdom literature, Quranic exegesis, and stories of the prophets. This chapter makes observations on the authorship, dating, language, and theme of a group of representative texts from the medieval Arabic Alexander tradition. It highlights the episodes that define the Arabic Alexander tradition. The Muslim holy book transmits a fragmentary version of Alexander's story in the sura titled Al-Kahf. Another anonymous text from the Arabic Alexander tradition is Hadīth Dhulqarnayn. Mubaššir ibn Fātik eleventh-century physician from Cairo includes Alexander's story in his work Mukhtār al-ḥikam wa muḥāsin al-kalim. The thirteenth-century author of Mirʾāt al-zamān fī tārīkh al-aʿyān was grandson of the famous Baghdadi author and traditionist by the same name. The conquest of India varies little from the version in the Pseudo-Callisthenes (PC) tradition.

Keywords:Arabic Alexander tradition; Hadīth Dhulqarnayn; Mukhtār al-ḥikam wa muḥāsin al-kalim




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