When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'Great

This moderated forum is for discussion of Alexander the Great. Inappropriate posts will be deleted without warning. Examples of inappropriate posts are:
* The Greek/Macedonian debate
* Blatant requests for pre-written assignments by lazy students - we don't mind the subtle ones ;-)
* Foul or inappropriate language

Moderator: pothos moderators

Post Reply
GISELE BUNDCHEN

When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'Great

Post by GISELE BUNDCHEN » Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:32 am

This is based only on the sources mentioned - there are plenty I have
not got (Plutarch, Quintus Curtius and more). It seems clear Alexander
himself did not use this name or title. Liddell and Scott quote three uses of the Greek word 'megas' as a name
or title of a specific king.
The first (Plato Republic 615c) is Ardiaios, a man so obscure that
Plato has to explain; he was tyrant in some town (en tini polei
tyrannos) in Pamphylia a thousand years earlier. I seriously doubt if
we are meant to take this as 'Ardiaios the Great'. Souls in hell are
looking for people they know, and one of them asks "Where is that
great man Ardiaios?". Plato's dates are c.429 to 347 BC.
The second is Athenaeus 3D, "the great Alexander" (ho megas
Alexandros). There is nothing to fix this definitely as being a name
or title. Considering the next instance, I would incline to think it
was not, though the case is not proved. Generally, in Greek writings
(including Arrian'sLife of Alexander and Polybius' History) to say
"Alexander" is enough - all the more striking because there were in
fact several other Alexanders whom the writers expect us to ignore.
(Athenaeus, around AD 200.)

User avatar
dean
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 715
Joined: Wed May 28, 2003 2:31 pm
Location: Las Palmas, Spain

Re: When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'G

Post by dean » Mon Aug 15, 2005 10:07 am

Hello,Good question- and right now I don't have much time to look it all up properly- but maybe the Romans have something to do with this title- their appraisal of his conquests etc.(however, Julius never got this title)Sorry I can't be much more help right now.Best wishes,
Dean.

User avatar
amyntoros
Somatophylax
Posts: 2188
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: New York City

Re: When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'G

Post by amyntoros » Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:54 am

Hi Gisele, It's my understanding (I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong) that the first time Alexander was ever called The GreatG was in a play by Titus Maccius Plautus (c. 254-184 B.C.) who first started writing in 209 B.C. at the age of 45.
I'm afraid that the reference itself isn't particularly grand and there's no way of knowing if Alexander had been given this appellation by others (or perhaps the general populace) before this play was written. Anyway, here it is:

Plautus, (The Captiva and ) The Mostellaria 3.2.775

TRANIO. (to himself, as he goes to the other side of the stage to call THEUROPIDES). They say that Alexander the Great and Agathocles achieved two very great exploits; what shall be the lot of myself, a third, who, unaided, am achieving deeds imperishable? This old fellow is carrying his pack-saddle, the other one, as well. I've hit upon a novel trade for myself, not a bad one; whereas muleteers have mules to carry pack-saddles; I've got men to carry the pack-saddles. They are able to carry heavy burdens; whatever you put upon them, they carry. Now, I don't know whether I am to address him. I'll accost him, however. (Calling aloud.) Hark you, Theuropides!

The first website following is about Plautus and the second is the URL for the above quote which links to the complete play.

http://www.imagi-nation.com/moonstruck/clsc21.html

http://www.bookrags.com/ebooks/7282/70.html

Best regards,
Last edited by amyntoros on Tue Nov 14, 2006 6:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
Amyntoros

Pothos Lunch Room Monitor

User avatar
marcus
Somatophylax
Posts: 4764
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:27 am
Location: Nottingham, England

Re: When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'G

Post by marcus » Mon Aug 15, 2005 12:54 pm

Somewhere I do have a reference to the first use, which I think is *slightly* earlier - I shall have to look it up.Certainly Pompey's use of the epithet in the early 1st century BC was designed to force a comparison with Alexander, so it must have been earlier than Pompey. However, it is correct to say that Alexander never used it of himself, and nor did his Successors, so far as we know.ATBMarcus
Marcus
Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago
At Amazon US
At Amazon UK

User avatar
marcus
Somatophylax
Posts: 4764
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:27 am
Location: Nottingham, England

Re: When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'G

Post by marcus » Tue Aug 16, 2005 4:39 pm

Nope, I was wrong - that was the earliest reference.As you say, however, it's the earliest *that we know of* - of course it might have been common vernacular, and there must be plenty of writing earlier than Plautus which has been lost ... maybe Oxyrrhynchus will produce an earlier ...ATBMarcus
Marcus
Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago
At Amazon US
At Amazon UK

ruthaki
Strategos (general)
Posts: 1229
Joined: Sat Jul 13, 2002 4:31 pm
Location: Vancouver B.C. Canada

Re: When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'G

Post by ruthaki » Thu Aug 18, 2005 3:20 am

I've also heard him referred to as "The Invincible Alexander" (can't remember where I first ran across this)

User avatar
marcus
Somatophylax
Posts: 4764
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:27 am
Location: Nottingham, England

Re: When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'G

Post by marcus » Thu Aug 18, 2005 1:51 pm

Hi Ruth,I don't know where/when he was referred to as "invincible" in the same way as saying "the Great", but the story will have derived in part from the story about his visit to Delphi, when he dragged the Sibyl away from her afternoon tea (or whatever) ... "my son, you really are invincible" she said, thus giving him the answer he was looking for (Plutarch - can't remember the ref offhand, but it's probably chapter 8 or 9).ATBMarcus
Marcus
Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago
At Amazon US
At Amazon UK

User avatar
amyntoros
Somatophylax
Posts: 2188
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: New York City

Re: When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'G

Post by amyntoros » Thu Aug 18, 2005 5:53 pm

Hi Marcus,I'm in a mood to avoid any real work tonight so I Googled "Alexander the Invincible" - Jean Reames-Zimmerman in her Livejournal actually confirms Alexander being called as such:http://www.livejournal.com/community/me ... 72.html"He was never called that (Alexander the Great) in his own lifetime. . . He was Alexandros Aniketos -- Alexander the Invincible."She doesn't give a source reference, but it isn't expected because of the nature of the journal. Perhaps Jeane will see this and post a comment. Anyway, I couldn't find such a reference in any of our source files, but I suppose it could have been discovered on a Greek inscription. And then there's the curious book listed on Amazon (although out-of-print and unavailable) pubished by Academic Fellowship in 1967 and called "Arrian's Alexander the invincible." Huh??? Ooh, I do love a challenge or a mystery! :-)All the best,Amyntoros
Amyntoros

Pothos Lunch Room Monitor

User avatar
smittysmitty
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 490
Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2003 12:08 pm
Location: Australia

Re: When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'G

Post by smittysmitty » Fri Aug 19, 2005 11:35 am

the word 'anikitos' means invincible or unconquered.The Pythia called Alexander invincible at Delphi [Plutarch], and whilst at the temple of Ammon the priest titles him unconquered [Diodorus]. There are a number of other refernces in the romances which allude to the title.see Tarn Vol II Sources and Studies for a very interesting account of the title 'anikitos'

User avatar
amyntoros
Somatophylax
Posts: 2188
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: New York City

Re: When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'G

Post by amyntoros » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:08 pm

But where was it used as an actual title or epithet? :-) It's not the least surprising to see references in the histories referring to him as invincible, but Jeanne implies he was known by the actual name "Alexander the Invincible."I don't have volume II of Tarn, I'm afraid, but I'm pretty certain Marcus does.
Amyntoros

Pothos Lunch Room Monitor

Taphoi

Re: When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'G

Post by Taphoi » Sun Aug 21, 2005 6:33 am

The uses of "aniketos" in Diodorus 17.51.3 & 17.93.4 and in Plutarch 14.4 are in the contexts of the oracles at Delphi and Siwa. They very probably all derive from Cleitarchus, perhaps writing around 300BC.According to Hypereides, the contemporary orator, the Athenians proposed to erect a statue to "King Alexander the invincible god" in the context of their divine honours to him during his lifetime (Against Demosthenes, Col. 33). There also seems to be some similar reference in an inscription (SIG 251), but I don't have the text of this to hand.Best wishes,Andrew

GISELE BUNDCHEN

Re: When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'G

Post by GISELE BUNDCHEN » Fri Aug 26, 2005 9:27 am

OK

GISELE BUNDCHEN

Re: When did Alexander III of Macedon acquire the epithet 'G

Post by GISELE BUNDCHEN » Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:50 pm

OK

Post Reply