Alexander the Great: Hunting for a New Past?

Paul Cartledge goes in search of the elusive personality of the world’s greatest hero.

Detail of the Alexander Mosaic, representing Alexander the Great on his horse Bucephalus.

Once upon a time, in the public square of the ancient city of Corinth, Alexander – already king of the Macedonians, but not yet ‘the Great’ – encountered the notoriously unconventional Diogenes the Cynic. Before he could engage the sage in any sort of philosophic dialogue, however, Diogenes curtly told him to go away, as he was blocking out the sunlight. First blood to Diogenes. Alexander,  by no means unintelligent, was later questioned about the encounter, and is supposed to have responded: ‘Had I not been Alexander, I should have wished to be Diogenes’.

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