Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-84b7d79bbc-g7rbq Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-25T13:36:43.932Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

3 - The Image of Alexander in Ancient Art

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 January 2022

Richard Stoneman
University of Exeter
Get access


The iconography of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) in ancient art evolved as his legend grew and he came to symbolise different things to diverse social groups through the centuries. None of his lifetime portraits has survived but we have literary records and Roman copies. In the Hellenistic period (323–30 BC) his image provided a source of legitimacy for his Successors, who placed his portrait on their coins, erected his posthumous statues in their kingdoms and generally sought to imitate him. These coin portraits and several Hellenistic statues have come down to us, enabling us to assess his image through the filter of later interpretations.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Ameling, W. (1988) ‘Alexander und Achilleus. Eine Bestandsaufnahme’, in Will 1988, 657–92.Google Scholar
Andronicos, M. (1984) Vergina. The Royal Tombs. Athens.Google Scholar
Badian, E. (1996) ‘Alexander the Great between Two Thrones and Heaven: Variations on an Old Theme’, in Subject and Ruler: The Cult of the Ruling Power in Classical Antiquity, ed. A. Small. JRA Supplementary Series 17: 1126.Google Scholar
Beck, H., Bol, P. C. and Bückling, M. (2005) Ägypten, Griechenland, Rom. Abwehr und Berührung. Frankfurt.Google Scholar
Berger, E. (1971) ‘Ein neue porträt Alexanders des Grossen’, AntK 14: 139–44.Google Scholar
Bergmann, M. (1998) Die Strahlen der Herrscher. Mainz.Google Scholar
Boardman, J. (1994) The Diffusion of Classical Art in Antiquity. London.Google Scholar
Boardman, J. (2015) The Greeks in Asia. London.Google Scholar
Borza, E. N., and Palagia, O. (2007) ‘The Chronology of the Macedonian Royal Tombs at Vergina’, JdI 122: 81125.Google Scholar
Castritus, H. (1988) ‘Caracalla, Augustus und Alexander? Zu Cassius Dio 77,7,2’, in Will 1988, 879–84.Google Scholar
Cohen, A. (1997) The Alexander Mosaic. Cambridge.Google Scholar
Dahmen, K. (2007) The Legend of Alexander the Great on Greek and Roman Coins. London and New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Descamps-Lequime, S., ed. (2011) Au royaume d’Alexandre le Grand. La Macédoine antique. Paris.Google Scholar
Di Vita, A., and Alfano, C., eds. (1995) Alessandro Magno. Storia e mito. Rome.Google Scholar
Fittschen, K. (1977) Katalog der antiken Skulpturen in Schloss Erbach. Berlin.Google Scholar
Franks, H. M. (2012) Hunters, Heroes, Kings. Princeton.Google Scholar
Fraser, P. M. (1972) Ptolemaic Alexandria I. Oxford.Google Scholar
Green, P. (1990) Alexander to Actium. Berkeley.Google Scholar
Jacquemin, A., Mulliez, D. and Rougemont, G. (2012) Choix d’ inscriptions de Delphes, traduites et commentées. Paris.Google Scholar
Hamiaux, M. (1998) Musée du Louvre. Les sculptures grecques II. Paris.Google Scholar
Heckel, W. (2015) ‘Alexander, Achilles and Heracles between Myth and History’, in East and West in the World Empire of Alexander: Essays in Honour of Brian Bosworth, ed. Wheatley, P. and Baynham, E.. Oxford: 2133.Google Scholar
Hölbl, G. (2001) A History of the Ptolemaic Empire, transl. T. Saavedra. London and New York.Google Scholar
Holt, F. L. (2003) Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London.Google Scholar
Hurwit, J. M. (1999) The Athenian Akropolis. Cambridge.Google Scholar
Ian, J., and Jones, C. P. (1977/8) ‘Der Bronzetorso im Burdur-Museum aus Bubon und der Bronze-Kopf im J.-Paul-Getty-Museum’, IstMitt 27/28: 267–96.Google Scholar
Lane Fox, R. (2011) ‘Introduction: Dating the Royal Tombs at Vergina’, in Brill’s Companion to Ancient Macedon, ed. Lane Fox, R.. Leiden and Boston: 134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lehmann, S., ed. (2014) Authenticity and Originality of Ancient Bronze Portraits: A Forged Portrait of Augustus, Its Prerequisites and Its Surroundings. Dresden.Google Scholar
Lembke, K. (2000) ‘Eine Ptolemäergalerie aus Thmuis/Tell Timai’, JdI 115: 113–46.Google Scholar
Lorber, C. C. (2011) ‘Theos aigiochos: The Aegis in Ptolemaic Portraits of Divine Rulers’, in More than Men, Less than Gods: Studies on Royal Cult and Imperial Worship, ed. Iossif, P., Chankowski, A. S. and Lorber, C. C.. Leuven, Paris, Walpole, MA: 293356.Google Scholar
Lorber, C. L. (2012) ‘The Coinage of the Ptolemies’, in The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage, ed. Metcalf, W. E.. Oxford: 211–34.Google Scholar
Marcadé, J., ed. (1996) Sculptures déliennes. Paris.Google Scholar
Moreno, P. (1995) Lisippo. L’arte e la fortuna. Monza.Google Scholar
Mørkholm, O. (1991) Early Hellenistic Coinage. Cambridge.Google Scholar
Öztürk, A. (2009) Die Architektur der Scenae Frons des Theaters in Perge. Berlin and New York.Google Scholar
Palagia, O. (2000) ‘Hephaestion’s Pyre and the Royal Hunt of Alexander’, in Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction, ed. Bosworth, A. B. and Baynham, E. J.. Oxford: 167206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Palagia, O. (2010) ‘Philip’s Eurydice at the Philippeum at Olympia’, in Philip II and Alexander the Great: Father and Son, Lives and Afterlives, ed. Carney, E. and Ogden, D.. Oxford: 3341.Google Scholar
Palagia, O. (2012) ‘The Impact of Alexander the Great in the Art of Central Asia’, in The Alexander Romance in Persia and the East, ed. Stoneman, R., Erikson, K. and Netton, I.. Groningen: 369–82.Google Scholar
Palagia, O. (2014a) ‘Review of Franks 2012’, JHS 134: 255–6.Google Scholar
Palagia, O. (2014b) ‘The Frescoes from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor in Boscoreale As Reflections of Macedonian Funerary Paintings of the Early Hellenistic Period’, in The Age of the Successors and the Creation of the Hellenistic Kingdoms (323–276 B.C.), ed. Hauben, H and Meeus, A. Leuven: 207–31.Google Scholar
Palagia, O. (2015) The Impact of Alexander the Great on the Arts of Greece. Leiden.Google Scholar
Palagia, O. (2017a) ‘Alexander’s Battles against Persians in the Art of the Successors’, in Ancient Historiography on War and Empire, ed. Howe, T., Müller, S. and Stoneman, R.. Oxford and Philadelphia: 177–87.Google Scholar
Palagia, O. (2017b) ‘The Argeads: Archaeological Evidence’, in The History of the Argeads: New Perspectives, ed. Müller, S., Howe, T., Bowden, H. and Rollinger, R.. Wiesbaden: 151–61.Google Scholar
Palagia, O. (2018) ‘The Reception of Alexander in Hellenistic Art’, in Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Alexander the Great, ed. Moore, K. R.. Leiden: 140–61.Google Scholar
Palagia, O. (2020a) ‘Alexander the Great and the Athenians: Deification and Portraiture’, in Affective Relations and Personal Bonds in Hellenistic Antiquity. Studies in Honor of Elizabeth D. Carney, ed. D’Agostini, M, Anson, E. M and Pownall, F. Oxford: 267–83.Google Scholar
Palagia, O. (2020b) ‘The Cult Statues of the Ptolemies and the Attalids’, in The Materiality of Hellenistic Ruler Cults, ed. S. G. Caneva. Kernos Supplement 36: 6581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Papastavrou, E. 1988. ‘Η επιτύμβια στήλη 5280 του Μουσείου του Πειραιά’, Arch Ephem 127: 6170.Google Scholar
Picón, C. A., and Hemingway, S., eds. (2016) Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World. New Haven and London.Google Scholar
Queyrel, F. (2003) Les portraits des Attalides. Paris.Google Scholar
Queyrel, F. (2016) La sculpture hellénistique. 1. Formes, thèmes et fonctions. Paris.Google Scholar
Reinsberg, C. (2005) ‘Alexander-Porträts’, in Beck, Bol and Bückling, 2005: 216–34.Google Scholar
Roberts, P., ed. (2013) Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum. London.Google Scholar
Rösger, A. (1988) ‘Severus Alexander und Alexander der Grosse. Zu Herodian V 7 und Dio 79 (80), 17–18’, in Will 1988, 885906.Google Scholar
Schultz, P. (2007) ‘Leochares’ Argead Portraits in the Philippeion’, in Early Hellenistic Portraiture: Image, Style, Context, ed. Schultz, P. and von den Hoff, R.. Cambridge: 205–33.Google Scholar
Sheedy, K. A., ed. (2007) Alexander and the Hellenistic Kingdoms. The Westmorland Collection. Sydney.Google Scholar
Smith, R. R. R. (1988) Hellenistic Royal Portraits. Oxford.Google Scholar
Smith, R. R. R. (1990) ‘Late Roman Philosopher Portraits from Aphrodisias’, JRS 80: 127–55.Google Scholar
Stewart, A. (1993) Faces of Power: Alexander’s Image and Hellenistic Politics. Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford.Google Scholar
Stewart, A. (2003) ‘Alexander in Greek and Roman Art’, in Brill’s Companion to Alexander the Great, ed. Roisman, J.. Leiden and Boston: 3166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stirpe, P. et al. (2006) Immagine del mito. Iconografia di Alessandro Magno in Italia. Rome.Google Scholar
Tarzi, M. Z. (1976) ‘Hadda à la lumière des trois dernières campagnes de fouilles de Tapa-É-Shoter (1974–1976)’, CRAI: 381410.Google Scholar
Troncoso, V. A. (2010) ‘The Bearded King and the Beardless Hero: From Philip II to Alexander the Great’, in Philip II and Alexander the Great. Father and Son, Lives and Afterlives, ed. Carney, E. and Ogden, D.. Oxford: 1324.Google Scholar
Weisser, B., and Dahmen, K. (2009) ‘Goldene Alexander zum Geschenk’, in Κερμάτια φιλίας. Τιμητικός τόμος για τον Ιωάννη Τουράτσογλου. Athens: 343–59.Google Scholar
Will, W., ed. (1988) Zu Alexander der Grosse. Festschrift G. Wirth II. Amsterdam.Google Scholar
Winter, E. (2005) ‘Alexander der Grosse als Pharao in ägyptischen Tempeln’, in Beck, , Bol, and Bückling, : 204–15.Google Scholar
Yalouris, N., Andronikos, M., Rhomiopoulou, K. et al. (1980) The Search for Alexander. New York.Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats