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Presentation by Daniel Tober, assistant professor of The Classics.

By the time of his death in 323 BCE, the young king of Macedon, Alexander III “the Great,” had expanded his rule from northern Greece to northern India, transforming the Mediterranean world and the Middle East and earning himself unparalleled fame. His conquests quickly became the stuff of legend. The so-called Alexander Romance, a highly fictionalized account of Alexander’s life and conquests composed not long after his death, became the best-selling book of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages; by the 13th century CE, it had been translated from Greek into Coptic, Ge’ez, Syriac, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Armenian, not to mention every language of Europe. Stories about Alexander, meanwhile, worked their way into many other texts and traditions. We find Alexander at the gates of Eden in the Talmud, vanquishing the monstrous “Unclean Nations” of the North in the Qur’an, and talking to a magical tree en route to China in the Persian epic Shahnameh. Yet, while many Alexander legends, including much of the Romance, concern his marvelous adventures in India, we have very little evidence for the reception of Alexander among the inhabitants of that region themselves. This talk addresses this lacuna by exploring echoes of the Alexander Romance in the Rajatarangini (River of Kings), a local history of Kashmir written in Sanskrit by the poet Kalhana in the 12th-century CE.

Refreshments provided. All are welcome.

Reception begins at 4:00 PM.  Lecture begins at 4:15 PM.

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