FRIDAY’S WORDS OF WISDOM: DEPT OF SIC GLORIA TRANSIT MUNDI…

…and also the department of, in the politics of image control, the more things change, the more things stay the same.

“A distinguished scholar of Macedonia and Alexander, the Cambridge historian GT Griffith, once observed with a certain amount of frustration: “It is one of the paradoxes of history (and of historiography) that this king… should have been handed down finally in history as an enigma.” Alexander had gone to the lengths of appointing an official historian, Kallisthenes, setting a dangerous precedent; and he always took immense care that his image – understood in the literal, physical sense as well as metaphorically – should be disseminated widely as possible throughout his empire in the forms that he personally had authorized and approved. Yet a fertile combination of nonsurvival of the contemporary primary literary sources, the survival of a relatively small number of contemporary official and unofficial documents, and the immense controversies that his career generated both during and long after his lifetime has ensured that attempting to reconstruct the historical Alexander is almost as problematic as trying to reconstruct the historical Jesus.”

Paul Cartledge, Introduction to The Landmark Arrian (xv-xvi)

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