Death in BabylonAlexander the Great and Iberian Empire in the Muslim Orient

Death in BabylonAlexander the Great and Iberian Empire in the Muslim Orient

Vincent Barletta

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226037363

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Though Alexander the Great lived more than seventeen centuries before the onset of Iberian expansion into Muslim Africa and Asia, he loomed large in the literature of late medieval and early modern Portugal and Spain. Exploring little-studied chronicles, chivalric romances, novels, travelogues, and crypto-Muslim texts, this book shows that the story of Alexander not only sowed the seeds of Iberian empire but foreshadowed the decline of Portuguese and Spanish influence in the centuries to come. It depicts Alexander as a complex symbol of Western domination, immortality, dissolution, heroism, villainy, and death, but also shows that texts ostensibly celebrating the conqueror were haunted by failure. Examining literary and historical works in Aljamiado, Castilian, Catalan, Greek, Latin, and Portuguese, the book develops a view of empire and modernity informed by the ethical metaphysics of French phenomenologist Emmanuel Levinas.