Alexander the Great

BookAlexander the Great

Alexander the Great

Letters: A Selection

Aris & Phillips Classical Texts


June 1st, 2023





This book offers the first critical edition with an English translation and commentary on some of the letters attributed to Alexander and transmitted by mainly Plutarch and Arrian. The vast majority of the texts examined here are constituted by Alexander’s 'private' letters, but the book also includes some letters regarded as official. Thirty-four letters are included, although there are many more letters allegedly written by Alexander, which are definitely forgeries. The doubts about the letters mostly come from the fact that the Romance of Alexander is considered a sort of epistolary novel, thus it has been argued that at some point a collection of Alexander’s letters was put together, containing a nucleus of genuine letters, but also expanded with forgeries. This volume attempts to isolate the letters which are regarded as authentic by the majority of modern scholars, with each letter followed by an outline of previous scholarly discussion of its authenticity.

The book brings to wider attention a much-neglected corpus by employing an innovative approach. The traditional study of epistolography tends to focus on literary rather than historical aspects of the genre, whereas this book, by exploring the culture behind the action of writing at Alexander’s court and the diverse approaches in relation to the letters, suggests that different criteria and new ways of writing history, prompted by Eastern standards, were introduced at his court. Furthermore, the collection shows that the step Alexander made, when he assumed the title of Great King, had formal and cultural implications. Finally, the book discusses the provenance of the letters, especially who among the historians contemporary with Alexander knew and handed the letters down.

Author Information

Giustina Monti is Lecturer in Classical Studies (Greek Culture), University of Lincoln and Programme Leader for Classical Studies. She is the author of several articles on Alexander the Great and the editor of A Cultural History of Historiography in Antiquity (forthcoming 2023).

Table of Contents

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Text with facing-page translation