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7 - The Medieval Alexander

Art and Politics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 January 2022

Richard Stoneman
Affiliation:
University of Exeter
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Summary

During the Middle Ages, the iconography of Alexander the Great could be found in religious as well as lay environments. The diversity of illustrated media (mosaics and capitals as well as tapestries and manuscripts) in which his likeness was represented reflects the variety of appraisals assigned to him as a historical figure, from condemnation to admiration. The analysis of various manuscripts and artefacts illustrated with images of the Alexander saga show that the same story, written and illustrated in different contexts, allowed different and nuanced interpretations: historical, political, encyclopaedic, courteous etc. The figure of Alexander the Great was particularly used by medieval rulers to base their political claims and aspirations through an intentional remastering of classical sources and associated iconography.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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