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- Volume 2014, Issue sup-5, 2014
Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Supplement 5, January 2014
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Supplement 5, January 2014
Author Philip BosmanSource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2014, pp VII –XIII (2014)More Less
In the major ancient sources, Alexander's conquest of Egypt seems almost like an interlude between the key conflicts of the Macedonian's Asian campaign. Sandwiched between the pivotal clashes of Issus and Tyre, on the one hand, and Gaugamela, on the other, he encountered virtually no resistance on African soil. On the contrary, Arrian reports that Darius' satrap Mazaces, having heard of the outcome at Issus, 'welcomed Alexander to the cities and the country'. Also, when viewed geographically, Alexander's African safari is an added-on loop to the south and west. The twenty-four-year-old and his mates sailed up and down the Nile, saw some interesting sites, and went on a desert dash or two. The combination of extreme adventure and self-discovery is by no means foreign to some touristic tastes, although one cannot help but feel that the party seriously underestimated their Sahara expedition. Still, they seem to have made the most of their stay, even bringing in celebrities and athletes from Greece for the winter's entertainment. At the first sight of spring, Alexander was off again for more serious business. But, while Alexander's famous pothos probably played a part in his decision to venture into this old and famed part of the world, his ambitions were, on closer scrutiny, not touristic. On the contrary, his brief stay was packed with activities of great political and symbolic significance.
Source: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2014, pp 1 –37 (2014)More Less
This survey lays out the main facts and problems of Alexander's principal associations with Africa, in life, in death and in the imagination of the later ancients (it does not venture into the realm of so-called Reception Studies). Of the themes inevitably treated here two above all, the foundation of Alexandria and the visit to Siwah, are well established chestnuts of Alexander scholarship, and will be handled rather more circumspectly than they might otherwise be. The shadow of Ptolemy, both as a rival actor and as a re-packager of the deeds of Alexander, in the development of political propaganda and the writing of history alike, hangs over much of the discussion.
Author Hugh BowdenSource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2014, pp 38 –55 (2014)More Less
Egypt was the first of the major kingdoms of the ancient Near East to fall to Alexander. Taking control of the territory was rather different from anything he had experienced in his campaign so far, which had mainly involved dealing with city-states or small territorial states in Anatolia and the Levant. The differences are, however, not immediately apparent in the accounts of the surviving Alexander historians. They are disguised in a number of ways, some of which relate to long-established conventions of Greek historiography and traditions about the relationship between Egypt and the Greek world. Beyond this, however, the historians can be seen to have obscured the extent to which Alexander was in Egypt taking on the role of a Near Eastern, rather than a Macedonian king. In this article I will consider two much-discussed issues: the question of Alexander's coronation as Pharaoh, and his visit to the temple of Amun at Siwah. I will show how the use of evidence from Egyptian sources can offer ways of reevaluating the evidence from the Greek and Roman authors, and perhaps present a fuller picture of Alexander's time in Egypt.
Source: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2014, pp 56 –71 (2014)More Less
One of the most discussed episodes in modern studies of Alexander is his pilgrimage to the oracle at Siwah, in which Ammon, equated by the Greeks with Zeus, is alleged to have acknowledged his paternity of the young conqueror. Discussion has often centred around the question of the extent to which Alexander himself believed in his own divinity. Earlier scholarship preferred to view Alexander as entirely 'rational' (adopting an apologetic view originally found in Plut. Alex. 28.6 and Arr. An. 7.29.3), refused to accept that Alexander actually thought of himself as a god, and argued that he promoted his divine filiation only for political reasons. The more recent communis opinion, however, has been that Alexander did indeed think of himself as a living god and actively promoted his own deification.
Source: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2014, pp 72 –91 (2014)More Less
What exactly Alexander did during his five months in Africa (December 332-April 331 BCE) has puzzled experts since antiquity. The surviving ancient sources report various motives for the conqueror's engagement with his most famous civic foundation, Egyptian Alexandria, and this has facilitated numerous modern interpretations. But because of Alexandria's later significance, ancient and modern authors have assigned an importance, even prescience, to Alexander's actions in Africa that may be unwarranted. For example, Jean Bingen argues that Alexandria mattered to Ptolemy as a political and cultural centre because it had mattered to Alexander. Ptolemy chose Egypt because 'he realised that Alexandria, Alexander the Great's prestigious city foundation, enabled him to obtain immediately [emphasis added] the prestige linked with the recollection of the conqueror.'
Author Pat WheatleySource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2014, pp 92 –108 (2014)More Less
The year 306 BC was perhaps one of the most momentous in the history of Alexander's Successors. It was the year in which the deadlock that had existed between the dynasts since the famous Peace of 311 was broken in stunning fashion, and the reverberations were profound. The year began with a monumental clash between Demetrius the Besieger, the young and brilliant son of Antigonus the One-Eyed, and Ptolemy Soter, for control of the island of Cyprus. This campaign culminated in a great sea battle at Cyprian Salamis in June, in which Demetrius smashed Ptolemy's fleet and crippled Egypt's naval power through clever tactics, and energetic leadership and fighting. For the Antigonids the victory was total. Ptolemy did not linger in Cyprus long enough even to rescue his entourage, but fled without delay to Egypt. Our sources, Plutarch's Life of Demetrius and Diodorus Siculus' Library Book 20, disagree on the number of Ptolemaic ships destroyed. Plutarch asserts that Ptolemy escaped with only eight ships, losing the rest of his fleet, both transport ships and warships, in its entirety, but Diodorus' figures seem more realistic, and one might estimate that Ptolemy escaped with perhaps one fifth of his warships, and at least a proportion of the supply ships.
Source: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2014, pp 109 –127 (2014)More Less
Among the very many tentacles of The Alexander Romance tradition is an Ethiopian tradition represented by a set of seven texts written in Ge'ez, a Semitic language that was the lingua franca of Medieval Ethiopia and is still used today in Ethiopian Orthodox liturgy. These texts appear in manuscripts dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries, and were translated into English in 1896 by Sir Ernest Budge. This paper asks why the figure of Alexander the Great attracted Ethiopian writers and translators from the Medieval period. The historical Alexander had not visited Ethiopia and the word itself appears only twice in the corpus. The texts do, however, show an interest in another African country, Egypt, and in particular the city of Alexandria with which Medieval Ethiopia had strong religious ties. In his recent study of the most important Ethiopic Alexander-text, the Ethiopic Alexander Romance or Z?n? Eskender ('History of Alexander the Great'), Peter Kotar points to the dependence of Ethiopic literature from the 13th century onwards on the Christian-Arabic literature of the Coptic church in Egypt, as well as to the particularly religious image of Alexander found in Ethiopic literature. The present paper attempts to extend this understanding to the rest of the corpus by suggesting that the existence of an Ethiopic Alexander tradition is as much a function of the historical relationship between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church of Alexandria as it is of the inherent interest value of Alexander's history, mythical or otherwise.
Source: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2014, pp 128 –142 (2014)More Less
A survey of the oldest version of the Alexander Romance, the so-called α recension, shows the importance of African material in this fabulous story of Alexander's adventures - a fact not very surprising in a text written (or compiled) in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. A first set of materials is indeed Egyptian: it is to be found in the novella of Nectanebo (Alexander's natural father in the Romance) and in the episode of Alexander's sojourn in Egypt, mostly in the passage devoted to the foundation of Alexandria. To this Egyptian set can perhaps also be added the short notice, inserted in 2.9, about the flow of the Nile (and its supposed influence on the flow of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates). A second set of materials is connected with black Africa and features in the story of Candace, queen of the Ethiopian kingdom of Meroe, who in this first version of the Romance is clearly presented as a dark-skinned person, as is her son Candaule. The α recension also contains scattered references to North Africa (ancient Libya) and to Erythraea, the border-land between Africa and Asia. The author speaks of Alexander's encounter with the inhabitants of Carthage, and in Alexander's fantastical letters to Aristotle and Olympias in 3.17, and to Olympias in 3.28, some of the strange peoples Alexander meets during his travels on the margins of the world appear to be peoples in ancient geographical writings usually connected with Africa: that is the case for the Ichthyophagi and the Troglodytes. Moreover, in the letter to Olympias, Alexander says he extended his exploration as far as the Atlas river, in the extreme west of Libya, a country which in antiquity was reputed to be the place of all kinds of marvels.
Author Adrian TronsonSource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2014, pp 143 –169 (2014)More Less
In all cultures and ages the heroes of myths, and even outstanding historical figures, are represented as paradigmatic agents of political unification and ethnic or political identity. Some have served political groups or dynasties as models for justifying their dominance, or as objects of emulation for aspiring political and military leaders. Such were Achilles and Heracles for Alexander the Great, and the latter for Pompey, Julius Caesar and many others. In the abstract sense, their image or related narratives function as epistemological paradigms for political ideologies, even for religious or philosophical doctrines. In recent years Alexander's image and reputation continue to be the disputed symbol for legitimising the respective political identities of Greece and the Republic of Macedonia. Alexander the Great has fulfilled this role for millennia, ever since his relics, corpse, possessions, family connexions and image were contested after his death and appropriated for their own advancement by his marshals and their Hellenistic and Roman successors. Even in countries and among populations with whose cultures and institutions he had no proven relationship, had never visited, and of which he had little or no knowledge, the 'Alexander brand' has served a variety of political purposes.
Author John AtkinsonSource: Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa 2014, pp 170 –184 (2014)More Less
The brevity of this afterpiece on three characters operating in Cape Town - Benjamin Farrington, Harold Baldry and Mary Renault - reflects the fact that in South Africa Alexander studies did not attract much serious engagement before the 1980s. One reason may have been that in most universities where the Classical languages were studied, Latin was mainly taken by students who were obliged to take Latin if they wished to study Law, and Greek was strongest where it served as an ancillary for students majoring in Theology. This had a bearing on the research interests of at least some academic staff, and virtual job demarcation tended to keep the two sections apart in the Afrikaans-medium universities. And then there was the convenient conviction that courses on Classical civilisation and literature in translation, at least if beyond the introductory first year level, were close to a betrayal of the core value of Classics at university level.