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The Stinking Corpse

The Stinking Corpse

Alexander, the Greeks, and the Romans

(p.33) Chapter 2 The Stinking Corpse
Death in Babylon
Vincent Barletta
University of Chicago Press

Throughout late antiquity and into the early modern period, Iberian writers consistently frame Alexander, perhaps more than any other major historical figure, as both the Western self and the Eastern Other—a conflicted and powerful soul that, in the end, could not but turn on itself as it did. In order to come to a contextualized understanding of the place that Alexander the Great has within the initial push of Iberian empire into Muslim Africa and Asia, it is useful to take the time to sketch out the centuries-long backstory that shapes later Iberian accounts of the Macedonian king. Self-conscious heirs to the language, literature, history, and political theories of the Romans, Iberian writers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries had no need to conjure up Alexander ex nihilo, and it is for this reason important to develop some understanding of the general contours of the various “Alexanders” fashioned by writers in classical and late antiquity.

Keywords:   Alexander the Great, Iberian empire, Muslim Africa, classical literature, political theories, Greeks

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