When writing a biography of a Historical figure there are often many details that have been changed. In the case of Alexander the Great there are two stories the fictional version that does not follow sequential order as well as liberally enhanced the story for a more gripping read. The Life and Deeds of Alexander of Macedon is one of the most successful novels, if we judge a novel by the number of versions which exist, eighty (161 Ken Dowden). The author was no concerned with the historical accuracy of Alexander the Great’s career or battles in which he brilliantly conducted himself conquering the largest empire to ever exist. But rather “the battles do not even occur in their proper chronological sequence; nor does the author always grasp the relevant geography” (164 Ken Dowden). Also in order to make a more eloquent and fascinating story the author used liberty in distorting many details. An example of this is in conception the author says that Alexander is conceived in a bizarre way which is interesting in that it is totally illogical. It starts Nektanebos a pharaoh who fled from Egypt when he saw they would be destroyed by invaders then proceeds to gain fame from his work as a prophet in Macedonia enough that the queen Olympia’s requests his help in the rumor of Phillip II divorcing her, and he tells her to solve this problem she must “have intercourse with a god on earth” (171 Ken Dowden). This is an important detail in the life of Alexander the Great and the author clearly uses the changes in order to have the prophecy come to for whishen that was told to Nektabebos “The king who fled will come again to Egypt not in age but in youth and our enemy the Persian he shall subdue (170 Ken Dowden).” When looking at how these iconic deeds got turned into a tremendously popular novel because of the fictional events in order grasp the reader and pull them in. The difference between telling a spurious account and nonfictional account is that details can be skewed to have a more interesting and eloquent novel which people read rather than history text books that just says this is what happen and how it happen. Instead Alexander the Great history is often confused with fictional accounts because they are fundamentally the same. But by telling a fictional account it reaches more readers because they want to read an interesting story not a timeline of someone’s life.
The Brilliant GeneralEdit
Another intriguing fact about The Life and Deeds of Alexander of Macedon is that there are direct quotes from the people themselves which make it much more realistic. This is important detail because it attempts to tell the story as if they people are actually did say what the quotes. In using this effect the author makes the reader believe that it is actually a nonfictional story as told with direct references from the characters. If this were told in a more historical sense the novel would not have become so popular the fact that he is passing it off as if this is what happen really deceives the uneducated into believing the story especially during the time. It was written when pagan beliefs and the gods associated and interacted with the people or so they believed. If it was not written as a first-hand account it would not come off as believable it would be seen as just a story not something that could have been actual historical events. The fictional additives have made this novel tremendously popular linking historical events with fictional reasoning and ideologies makes the novel tremendously more interesting. It strikes at possibility which intrigues and delights the reader with curiosity and a connection with Alexander that is not present in historical works. There is a fascination with the novel rather than the life of Alexander because we really get know and understand how he would have possibly acted in hypothetical situations. This connection is apparent especially during the death of Pausanias; Alexander “brought Pausanias to him. And Philip took hold of him and cut his throat and Philip said to Alexander: ‘Alexander my boy it is no sorrow to me that I am dying: I have had vengeance killing my enemy like this (184 Ken Dowden).” Making the heart of the reader sink because sadness invoked by the death of his father but also Alexander a dutiful son allows his father to die happy and brings the prophecy to light allowing him to truly love his son. A touching connection between the father and son in Philips last words showing he’s proud of his son even though he always had a dislike towards him because he is his bastard son but Alexander has triumphed greatly and this will only be the beginning of his future conquest. This connection that the reader is able to obtain makes the reader go on and imagine what a person of such a stature will produce if he is allowed to keep going. Another line with some significance is during the encounter with Darius messengers: “Men of Macedonia and comrades-in-arms, why are you upset at what Darius has written, as though his boastful letter had real power (194 Ken Dowden)?” This intrigues because we are able to see the compassion in Alexander and don’t just see him as a ruthless conqueror and even his adversaries have no real power. Alexander is not just a tyrant pillaging and killing as he see fits he has substantial reasoning behind his actions and purposive by using his power with words he in thralls his army and to demoralize the enemy. Alexander not only conquers and pillages the world but also has sympathy for those who don’t deserve reparations for a messenger is only told to bring the letter not explain or write it. This compassion strikes and intrigues the mind for how could the most powerful man to possibly ever live have such restraint while have such wit and ingenuity in his endeavors. One substantial seen that depicts Alexander wit and intelligence and aptitude in make sure his people are happy. In one expose Alexander says “Comrades in arms we have slaughtered the horses despite the fact they are vital for war so that we may be filled with food when an evil is filled by a lesser evil it is less painful” clearly the connection with the audience because it shows his common wit and brings about common adages that anyone can understand (200 Ken Dowden). The common sense approach of Alexander brings a connection to the common person not that of well-educated reader. He realizes it is better to have healthy troops then horses which they will pillage from tons when they need them. This shows how intelligent and ready to lead Alexander was he focused on the present in order efficiently defeat and conquer his adversaries. Another aspect of The Life and Deeds of Alexander of Macedonia that makes it so intriguing is the relationship with the gods. Just as Odysseus fate in the Illiad and the Odyssey in directly connected to the gods so is Alexander’s. From the beginning there are direct correlations with the gods and how they determine his fate for one prophecy to the next comes true and the Gods show him favor for his empire he seems infallible until the end. This leads to his death for “alexander from now on stop matching yourself with the gods: return to your own palace and do not rush head over heels into the ascent to the paths of heaven (240 Ken Dowden).” This shows how at the end he saw himself as too powerful and let the power get to his head for he was matching himself with the gods. Though his life was linked to the gods through prophecy but when someone pushes their power to a godly nature they often come to their demise. The story teaches so many life messages and in that way makes it popular even though it is fiction it tells a story of the rise and fall of a powerful man which intrigues and makes one wonder could he have lived a more prosperous life? It also begs the question does wealth and power bring happiness or a prosperous long life.
The Life and Deeds of Alexander of Macedon, depicts a general and leader that is intelligent, witty, and capable of conquering an empire captivating a large audience. The novel is so popular and widely read do to its inherent easy read and fantasy that everyone wants to rule the world at some point in their life. It depicts a leader who ultimately suffers from his own people and shows what power and corruption can do to people.