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Chapter Two: Alexander in Greek and Roman Art

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Chapter Summary

The Alexander Mosaic cleverly explores three different aspects of Alexander's unique arete: his ferocity in battle; his charisma; and his military genius. Alexander's military genius-his mastery of the art of war-is signaled by the entire composition, especially if the spears in the background are Macedonian. As Rome's shadow began to reach across the Hellenistic world, Alexander's unfulfilled dream of marching West into Mrica, Spain, and Italy inspired a lively debate between Greeks and Romans as to whether he could have conquered Rome or not. Advertising his power and charisma, Alexander's portraits were both concrete reminders of this-to Romans-unnerving possibility and magnets for Greek pride and resistance. Alexander imagery may have influenced the Roman artist on both occasions-which by no means certifies that these works actually copy bona fide Hellenistic Alexanders, as often asserted.

Keywords: Alexander imagery; Greek portraits; Hellenistic courts; Macedonian; Roman artist

10.1163/9789004217553_003
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