The Roman Alexander

BookThe Roman Alexander

The Roman Alexander

Reading a Cultural Myth

Exeter Studies in History


December 2nd, 2002



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This book seizes on one of the eternal objects of widespread attention in Ancient History and turns the tables on the scholarship that has shaped and dominated the field. Instead of scrutinising the documents in order to reconstruct the biography and assess the historical significance, Diana Spencer traces the deployment and development of the mythical figure of Alexander. She explores and synthesises a selection of Latin texts, from the Late Republic to Hadrian, to form a series of themed discussions which investigate the cultural significance of Alexander for Rome. The selected texts - drawn from verse and prose, history, epic and oratory - are presented alongside their English translation, and provide an insight into a world where to think about Alexander was to engage with the burning ideological issues of Rome during a period of intense and often violent political and cultural change. The book makes clear how particular texts and issues may be readily accessed, providing a valuable resource for teachers and their students, whilst also offering a new approach to cultural histories of Rome and Alexander.

Diana Spencer’s provocative book reminds us that almost all of the texts that convey the image, or rather images, of Alexander belong to the Roman Empire.

The International History Review xxv.3

Spencer offers a number of subtle and stimulating interpretations.

The International History Review xxv.3

This is a stimulating book, filled with imaginative and suggestive ideas.

The International History Review xxv.3

This well-presented book (with Andy Warhol’s Alexander the Great on the cover) examines the image of Alexander as developed and utilised by the Romans.

Joint Association of Classical Teachers JACT Iss 34

... her purpose is an exegesis of the key passages and an historical account of the development of political themes associated with Alexander. In this she has admirably succeeded, and has made a useful contribution to the study of the Alexander myth, and to the study of political discourse in the late Republic and early Principate.

Scholia Reviews 13

This important study provides a valuable resource for serious scholars of Alexander as well as for teachers and students. The Latin text is preceded by English translations throughout the volume, and there is a bibliography of modern Alexanders… Written in an engaging academic style, the book calls for a new approach to the history and reception of Alexander.

The Historian

Spencer’s achievement lies in her innovative analysis of Alexander as a mythical figure in order to assess his cultural impact upon the Romans.

The Historian

This is a stimulating book, filled with imaginative and suggestive ideas.

The International History Review

Author Information

Diana Spencer is a Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Birmingham.