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The Casting of Julian the Apostate 'in the Likeness' of Alexander the Great: a Topos in Antique Historiography and its Modern Echoes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Rowland Smith


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Abstract Parallels between the cases of Julian and Alexander the Great were repeatedly drawn in antiquity, and what some of the antique testimonies postulate has a modern counterpart in a strand of scholarship that judges Julian obsessively inclined to identify with, or rival, Alexander. This paper explicates the representation of Julian as an 'Alexander-imitator' in both its ancient and modern ramifications, surveying its development as a literary construct and reviewing its standing as a historical hypothesis in the light of Julian's interest in Alexander as his own writings and reliably attested actions disclose it: it disputes the currently influential theory of obsessive emulation, and proposes an alternative interpretation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Smith R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Histos

Year: 2011

Volume: 5

Pages: 44-106

Print publication date: 01/01/2011

ISSN (print): 2046-5955

ISSN (electronic): 2046-5963

Publisher: University of Durham, Department of Classics