• Dossier: Alexander the Great, Hellenistic Art and the Classical Tradition

    2019-11-19

    The years between Alexander's death and Augustus' victory in the Battle of Actium, roughly from 323 to 31 BC, have hardly attracted the historians’ attention.

    Mistakenly seen as the sunset of Athenian democracy, corrupted in an endless struggle for the spoils of the Macedonian empire, made it necessary that J. G. Droysen (1808-1884) had to write his biography on the conqueror (Geschichte Alexanders des Grossen, 1833,) and his successive works on the history of Hellenism, for the period to receive a greater attention. Although Droysen theses’ of an unchallenged Hellenization of the East, as well as Alexander's benevolent conception as a vector of providence - using Hegel’s terms -, are outdated, Droysen's relevance for the study of the Hellenistic period is unavoidable. Indeed, the very idea of a “Hellenistic period” is the Prussian historian’s creation.

    Since the mid-twentieth century, studies on the Hellenistic age have grown, most often highlighting its prodigal character on cultural, social, and artistic exchanges of various biases which have taken place in scenarios ranging from Egypt under the Ptolemies to the Asia Minor under the Attalids.

    Similarly, the importance of the period’s figurative production has been increasingly emphasized, starting with the perception that the great Renaissance models - from Laocoon to Apollo Belvedere, from Hercules Farnese to Belvedere Torso - were conceived in the time lapse that covers from 4th to 2nd century BC.

    Moreover, the very idea of Alexander as a tour de force in art history - because of his unprecedented preoccupation with his own image - cannot be neglected. His court, after all, was filled with the most prestigious artists of his generation, such as Apelles, Lysippos, and Leochares.

    Thus, the organizers of this dossier invite researchers who wish to contribute with articles on Alexander's image in ancient art, the artistic production during the Hellenistic period and, in general, its bonds with Classical Tradition. 

     

     

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