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Lycophron's Alexandra, The Romans and Antiochus III

  • Kenneth R. Jones (a1)

Abstract:

Much of the debate over the authorship and composition date of the Alexandra has focused on the so-called ‘Roman Passages’ (lines 1226–82 and 1446–50). Though attributed to Lycophron, a scholar-poet in the court of Ptolemy II, many scholars, ancient and modern, have questioned whether the extravagant terms used to describe Roman power are appropriate for the early third century BC. Scholars have mostly either settled for the traditional date and assign the ‘Roman Passages’ to the aftermath of the Pyrrhic War or they have dated the passages to the time of the Second Macedonian War. This article offers a new context for the material on Rome, namely the Antiochene War. The new dating is based on the appearance of similar themes in the Alexandra and accounts, both historical and propagandistic, of the Antiochene War. These themes, which include Rome's Trojan origins, the conflict of Europe and Asia, and Rome's conquest of the world, are absent from accounts of the Pyrrhic and Second Macedonian Wars. After establishing a date in the aftermath of the Antiochene War, this article identifies the shadowy figures mentioned in the second ‘Roman Passage’.

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* . I would like to thank Professors Erich S. Gruen and R. Alden Smith, who read and commented on an earlier version of this article. I would also like to thank the present and previous editors of the Journal of Hellenic Studies and the anonymous reviewers for many suggestions that strengthened the case presented here.

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