Alexander the Great: Myth, Genesis and Sexuality

Alexander the Great: Myth, Genesis and Sexuality


By (author) Daniel Ogden


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Hardback $109.99
  • Format: Paperback | 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 230mm x 20mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 1 December 2011
  • ISBN 10: 0859898385
  • ISBN 13: 9780859898386
  • Sales rank: 563,238

Product description

What are ancient texts saying to us when they describe Alexander the Great's romantic relationship with his wife Barsine, or comment on his homosexual relationship with Hephaestion? What did it mean when the ancient writers told that Alexander had been sired by a thunderbolt or by a gigantic snake? What did it mean when they represented his mother Olympias as a witch? These questions and others are addressed in Alexander the Great: Myth and Sexuality. In this book, Daniel Ogden discusses the mythologizing of procreation and sex in the ancient traditions surrounding Alexander. From the author's Introduction: 'A quick review of [...] chapter titles will suggest that the first half [...] answers the title's promise of 'myth' and the second half that of 'sexuality', but in fact the entire volume is devoted to what may be termed 'myth' of one sort or another. Its central and unifying subject is the mythologizing of procreation and sex in the traditions surrounding the figure of Alexander the Great: accordingly, it comprises both treatments of the narratives spun around his own siring and birth on the one hand, and treatments of the narratives spun around the king's own procreative and sexual career on the other. A significant amount of this mythologizing [...] took root in Alexander's own age. The remainder of it is the product of subsequent tradition, a tradition that was evidently in vigorous development already within a few years of Alexander's death.'

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Author information

Daniel Ogden is Professor of Ancient History, University of Exeter. He has published substantially on the ancient world; his previous books include Greek Bastardy in the Classical and Hellenistic Periods (OUP, 1996), The Crooked Kings of Ancient Greece (Duckworth, 1997), Greek and Roman Necromancy (Princeton University Press, 2001), Magic, witchcraft and ghosts in the Greek and Roman worlds: a sourcebook (OUP USA, 2002), A Companion to Greek Religion (edited, Blackwell, 2007). Perseus. Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World Series (Routledge, 2008).

Review quote

Odgen's work is quite impressive. It certainly requires a gifted mind to sift through numerous contradictory myths and make them all coherent. He has certainly risen to the task and succeeded to a large degree. As a result, this book is highly recommended. Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin, Vol. 59

Table of contents

Preface Introduction 1. Son of the Thunderbolt: Alexander's birth myths and their dates 2. Son of the Snake: the original identity of Alexander's snake sire 3. Son of the Ram: Alexander as heir to the Macedonian foundation myths 4. Son of the Eagle: the heirs to Alexander's birth myths 5. Son of the Witch: traditions of polygamy in the Macedonian court 6. Alexander's wives in fact and tradition 7. Alexander's dalliances 8. Alexander's men in fact and tradition 9. Alexander the gynnis Bibliography Index