Abstract

The history of classical scholarship abounds with examples of metaphors that function as organic links between past and present. As vehicles for contemporary emulation or allies of particular moral and political ideologies, interpretations of ancient life have mirrored the anxieties and controversies of their times. Alexander the Great has been a prominent figure in such historically contextualized interpretations. A comparative study of the reception of this legendary hero by two leading nineteenth-century historians, George Grote and Konstantinos Paparrigopoulos, provides a platform for reflecting on the influence that different versions of Hellenism have had on the construction of historical narratives. Two contrasting Alexanders emerge from the works of the Victorian radical and the Greek national historiographer. Grote's Alexander was the deadly enemy of ancient liberalism and conqueror of a glorious civilization that was never to be resurrected. Paparrigopoulos's Alexander, in contrast, was a national heroic ancestor who bridged the classical with the Byzantine in the Hellenic world. In this form, Alexander emerged as a symbol of national unity and his achievement became the historical analogue of nation-building.

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