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Frederick B. Parfait Carey, R. Lawton P. Peckham and Milan S. Prosa Der Altfranzsische Prosa-Alexanderroman, ed. Alfons Hilka Halle:Niemeyer, ; rpt. Geneva: Slatkine, RA Le Roman dAlexandre, ed. Brian Foster and Ian Short. Lon-don: Anglo-Norman Text Society, Alessandro Alessandro nel Medioevo Occidentale, ed. Peter Dronke Verona: Mondadori, Frontiresde lpique et du romanesque Paris: Champion, Ross Ross, David J. Une rcriture permanente Amsterdam:Rodopi, The figure of Alexander the Great is extraordinary on any terms.
Theglobal dimensions of that greatness are aptly summed up by Laurence Harf-Lancner, a contributor to this volume:. On June 13 in the year B. He had conquered a great part of the knownworld and had, by advancing through India as far as the Ganges basin,pushed back the eastern limits of the universe. His accomplishmentswere also to give rise to a myth about his own person that after hisdeath would proliferate and endure to our own time.
The awesome magnitude of Alexander the Great thus obtains in two spheresthat are in most contexts inextricably interrelated: in ancient history, but alsoin the expansive mythic strands that proliferate outward from the historicalrecord. The powerful legendary matrix resulting from this blend of history andmyth is by no means an ideological monolith, however, for over the longuedure it retains a remarkable elasticity, capable of accommodating an astonishingvariety of contrastive, and sometimes contradictory, worldviews. As DavidWilliams has observed, Alexander is the only hero whose appeal seems trulymulticultural and transhistorical.
For a schematic overview of the medieval FrenchAlexander texts and their principal antecedents, see the Chronology at the endof this introduction. Throughout the Middle Ages, Alexanders adventures found prominencein a wide variety of historical and literary settings. The medieval European. Translated into Latin in thefourth century and abridged in the ninth,3 it affords the essential elements ofthe vernacular image of Alexander that emerges shortly after and there-after looms large in both Latin and vernacular texts.
In influential works likethe Latin Alexandreis of Gautier de Chtillon ca. Already in the mid-tenth century, the legend of Alexander was recog-nized by clerical authors as an apt vehicle for addressing a wide range ofcontemporary concerns. A telling example of this is examined in this volumeby Michel Zink, who explores the ways in which the author of the Prologueto the Latin translation of the Pseudo-Callisthenes sets forth the combats andvictories of the great pagan heroes as models for emulation by Christians, butmodels nonetheless to be transcended through the exercise of Christian vir-tues.
The potential of the Macedonians heroic legend for development in positiveor negative didactic commentary was to have a long posterity in secular textsas well, and Zink discusses one early vernacular example of its prominentreappearance, in the prologue to the late-twelfth-century Conte du Graal ofChrtien de Troyes in which the poets patron, Philip of Flanders, is favorablycompared to Alexander in terms of the practice of largesse. Almost half a century ago, the substantial corpus of medieval texts de-voted to Alexander was surveyed by George Cary; in , D.
Rossassessed the illustrated Alexander manuscripts. In recent years, a quickening of scholarly interest has produced much newwork on the figure of Alexander as represented both in the ancient world andthereafter. As the first systematiccollective study of the medieval French Alexander tradition and its back-ground, it provides an essential complement to comparative study of the larger.
It involves a substantial number of works that together span nearly theentire period of medieval French literary production, from the early-twelfthcentury through the late fifteenthhence a thread whose multiple strands areintricately woven into the fabric of medieval literary history. This volume is the product of an international initiative, and its con-tributors include many of the major participants in the recent renewal ofscholarly attention to the medieval Alexander.