Implausible History

2015 / 22.04.2024

Alexander the Great

Is Alexander the Great a character from a novel?

mosaik aus pompei über alexander der grosse
Mosaic from Pompei about Alexander the Great

His story

Did Alexander the Great really exist? This novel-like story of a bisexual boy - descendant of Zeus - who conquers the world seems to me to come more from the imagination of old, paedophile scholars from Athens than to represent real reality. The city of Babylon could also have been fancifully inflated. Is it perhaps the bestseller by Aristotle himself? After all, let's not forget the imagination of Aristotle: "the brain is a cooling organ and thinking takes place in the region of the heart (PA II 7, 652b21-25; III 3, 514a16-22)" (from Wikipedia).

And Alexander was born when Aristotle was 28 years old. In other words, when Aristotle was in his prime as a poet. And lo and behold, Alexander dies a year before Aristotle. So then, when Aristotle was old and ill. Did Aristotle perhaps "also" let his hero die?

Among other things, this raises the question: can a novel be projected into reality in such a way that everyone ultimately believes it?

Let's take today's bestselling series STAR TREK as an example. This is a future novel that cannot exist. Nevertheless, it already has millions of people who identify with it. Yes, they even consider it to be reality. Not to mention the film "Matrix". People leave the real world and some viewers believe that this is reality.

We must also not forget that the story (or novel) of Alexander the Great only really gained a foothold in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, and several authors of the time embellished it and published new versions.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that the historiography of Alexander the Great's campaign is said to have been written by a nephew of Aristotle (Callisthenes of Olynthus). A nephew of whom we have neither exact dates of birth nor death. Even the works of this nephew cannot be precisely attributed. At the end of the story, this nephew is killed by Alexander himself, Alexander dies of a fever, has no descendants and his mother is murdered. Everything is gone in a flash! He who believes is blessed.

I'm also bothered by the fact that the tactically clever Alexander the Great only expands his empire unilaterally and leaves the Romans and Greeks behind and next to Macedonia in peace. He travels the world with his army and leaves Macedonia defenceless? All this is illogical. Yes, almost ridiculous.

I am convinced that a King Alexander of Macedonia really existed. That Aristotle was also his teacher. But today's story about Alexander the Great is definitely a bestseller by Aristotle. Nothing more.

Some things are true. But shortly before Alexander the Great is said to have become king, the historiography begins to show holes. But this is also the beginning of an era in which the Greeks became more "civilised" and started fewer wars. A heroic figure was now missing. And it is precisely in this respect that Alexander the Great could be a pure novel. His tomb is missing, as are important traces of his conquest, such as the remains of the 45,000 soldiers he is said to have lost on his return march through the desert.

My sources were mainly the DTV-Atlas zur Weltgeschichte (15th edition from 1979) and Wikipedia.