This paper explores the role of monuments in imperial Greek narratives of Alexander the Great. Literary monuments always act as a medium of communication between architect/author and audience/reader, and between temporalities (past, present, and future). Textual monuments can act to separate temporal layers, so that the multi-temporality of space is preserved, or to bind them together in a way that makes one period dominant. Moreover, the textualization of monuments within commemorative landscapes allows imperial Greek authors to rewrite the past to create their own authoritative interpretations of cultural history for posterity. 

Alexander’s interaction with monuments in Arrian, Plutarch, and the Alexander Romance demonstrates his keen appreciation of the fragility of memory and meaning when it is shaped in monumental form, and the vitality and power of narrative that remains free of material commemoration. He thus avoids his own monumentalization and interprets other people’s memorials to serve his own story. Philostratus and his Apollonius of Tyana, in contrast, attribute numerous monuments to Alexander as a way of fixing him in time, space, and memory in order to limit his narrative control and potency. This paper will analyse this complex interplay between monument, narrative, and meaning, and explicate how imperial Greek authors use it to explore memory, identity, literary authority, and imperialism via the exemplary figure of Alexander the Great.

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The Friends of Antiquity, an alumni organisation of the University, runs its own series of public lectures, which take place on Sunday afternoons. The Friends’ program for can be found at https://alumni.uq.edu.au/friends-of-antiquity