Imperial Fictions (2020-)
Few historical characters had such an impact on the premodern imagination as Alexander the Great. Indeed, the fourth-century Greek Alexander Romance, a highly fictionalized account of Alexander’s conquests and adventures, was probably the world’s most widely read secular text between the 4th and the 16th centuries. Translated into Latin, Coptic, Ge’ez, Syriac, Arabic, Byzantine Greek, Armenian, Hebrew, Persian and Mongolian, as well as the majority of the European vernaculars, this text – and the many adaptations it spawned – enjoyed an unrivalled popularity for more than a thousand years. But even before the Alexander Romance was written, Alexander had long been transformed into the hero of myriad legends, bridging the divide between history and fiction, inhabiting and often conflating such diverse generic and conceptual spaces as fairy tale, imperialist propaganda and religious prophecy.
Imperial Fictions examines this remarkable adaptability with a special emphasis on the ways in which the tensions between the historical and fantastical inherent to so many Alexander narratives generate ever new approaches to the issue of temporality.