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Alexander the Great - The Sources

How do we know so much about him?


"The Greatest Legend of All Was Real"

He was. His original name was Alexandros Philippou Makedonon (Alexander son of Philip of Macedon) and he lived from 356 BCE to 323 BCE. As the third king of Macedonia bearing this name, he is also referred to as Alexander III.

About 99% of what we know about Alexander the Great comes to us through five original sources from Antiquity whose ancient works have somehow survived the ages in various more or less complete manuscripts: Arrian, Plutarch, Curtius, Diodorus and Justin. Some might like to add the late Antiquity Metz Epitome to these Big Five.

The works of Arrian, Plutarch and Curtius are still highly readable and readily available in modern translations. It is even said that Jim Morrison of The Doors read Plutarch's "Life of Alexander".

  • The Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian Arrian wrote in 140 A.D. --- but he still reads like a modern adventure about heroism and chivalry.

    You can buy it at or

  • (Life of) Alexander by Plutarch high ranking ancient work, written in 100 A.D. --- Plutarch is particularly interested in unravelling Alexander's character and personality.

    You can buy it at or

  • The History of Alexander by Curtius This ancient history --- written around 40 A.D. --- is filled with controversy, scandals, intrigues.

    You can buy it at or

Many more suggestions for further reading can be found in the Book Top-10.

"Fortune Favours the Bold"

This is what I.B. Brouillette, author of "Son of Thunder --- An Alexander Novel" had to say about Alexander.

"Alexander the Great is, arguably, the most famous secular figure in history. His magnetism in life was rivaled only by his magnetism in death, and the story of his career has evoked vastly different interpretations in his age and ours. Young romantic hero or megalomaniac villian? He has worn both masks. But in the end, whatever view one takes, whatever theories one subscribes to --- more or less hostile --- we are left with the man himself in all his complexity and contradiction.

He was neither a demon nor a god, whatever he wanted to believe about himself. He was a man, capable of cruelty and sympathy, brilliance and blindness, paranoia and an open-handed generosity. As remarkable as he was, he was human.

And that is what makes him interesting."

Quote submitted to by I.B. Brouilette. © I.B. Brouillette.

Written by nick