Few figures from history have aroused as much admiration as Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king who, between 334 and 323 B.C., conquered the immense Persian Empire, led his army as far as India, and transformed the known world. Even in antiquity, he was an almost mythical hero, and over the centuries he has been remembered as the paragon of martial brilliance. But for the historian, Alexander presents both a tantalizing subject and a formidable challenge. For all his achievements, there is very little direct evidence of his existence -- a few inscriptions, some coins and portraits, and allusions to him in speeches of the day -- and the oldest surviving accounts of his life were written three or more centuries after his death.
In Alexander: Destiny and Myth, distinguished historian Claude Mossé rigorously and imaginatively draws on a vast array of sources to create an indelible portrait of Alexander as conqueror, man, and legend. Carefully navigating between fact and fable, Mossé offers a compelling new assessment of Alexander and his legacy in five concise sections. From his ascension to the throne of Macedon in 336 B.C. in the wake of his father's assassination to his stunning conquest of Darius III's Persian empire, his Indian campaign, and his premature death at age 32, Mossé first reconstructs the major stages of Alexander's reign. She next explores the perception of Alexander -- as a ruler and even a god -- among the diverse peoples he governed, paying special attention to the cities he founded. Mossé then turns to the elusive question of Alexander's character, offering provocative insights on this millennia-old debate. The book's final two parts concern Alexander's legacy, both immediate -- the fate of his empire and the limits of his accomplishments, particularly his attempt to Hellenize the east -- and far reaching -- the idea of Alexander as a mythical hero from antiquity to the present by way of ancient, medieval, early modern, and twentieth-century words and images.
At once sweeping, succinct, and spellbinding, Alexander: Destiny and Myth is a strikingly fresh account of the man who continues to intrigue and excite the historical imagination twenty-five hundred years after his death.