Date of Award
Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)
Colby College. English Dept.
Alexander the Great serves as a literary figure spanning from the period right after his death to contemporary literature. With a tradition stemming from the ancient historical sources such as Plutarch, Diodorus, and Arrian, Alexander is located somewhere between fact and myth, drawing extensive readership and authorship throughout the changing genres of (ancient) history, romance, and historical fiction. Hayden White discusses the appeal of historical stories as versions of history containing not just what is true but also what is possible, creating something closer to the “real,” an idea that could explain some piece of Alexandrian intrigue. Looking at the historical and societal context of The Wars of Alexander: an alliterative romance from the medieval period as well as Christian Cameron’s more contemporary novel, Alexander: God of War, will show us significantly different portraits of the ancient king throughout the ages, as the texts value different aspects of his character. Alexander’s character exists on a continuum, and where each text places him on that continuum changes depending on the time period: a princely figure dispensing courtly advice becoming a figure that is utterly, disappointingly human. Comparing medieval romance and modern historical fiction, chosen for its importance in Alexandrian canon and its relevance today, respectively, will provide an answer to the question of why Alexander has remained a valuable, lasting character and why the genres have changed over time.
Alexander the Great, medieval literature, ancient history, historical fiction, medieval romance, advice to princes
Recommended CitationNeczypor, Eva, "Alexander the Great Cultural Chameleon: Changing Character & Purpose Over Time" (2016). Honors Theses. Paper 802.