The Author of the Alexander Romance


  • Richard Stoneman


This paper, which is based on a portion of the introduction of the author’s edition of Il Romanzo di Alessandro (Mondadori: Fondazione Valla 2007), surveys the generic components of the Alexander Romance in an attempt to arrive at a definition of the work. The argument builds on Merkelbach’s categorisation of elements and uses Fusillo’s insight into the novel as an ‘encyclopaedic genre’ to propose that ‘historical novel’ is not, as Hägg contended, a misnomer for the work. The main components I discuss are: ‘life’; praxeis; chreiai; Cynic elements, including choliambic poetry and utopian perspectives; and the Egyptian aspects of the narrative. A concluding jeu d’esprit offers a characterisation of the putative author, his antecedents and his process of composition.

Richard Stoneman was for 25 years editor for classics at Croom Helm and then Routledge. In 1997 he was appointed an Honorary Fellow in the department of classics, University of Exeter. After retiring from publishing in 2006 he has been pursuing his researches on the Alexander legends and teaching a course on the subject at Exeter. His Penguin translation of the Alexander Romance was published in 1991, and a volume of translated Legends of Alexander the Great appeared from Everyman in 1994. Also in 1994 he co-edited Greek Fiction with John Morgan. His edition of the Greek recensions of the Alexander Romance was published (volume I) by the Fondazione Valla in 2007 – volumes II and III will follow over the next few years – and his Alexander the Great: A Life in Legend appeared from Yale University Press in spring 2008. He is the author of a number of other books on Greek history and travel, and is writing a book on oracles.