Folk Narrative Techniques in the Alexander Romance

in Mnemosyne
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A structurally-oriented analysis of the Alexander Romance demonstrates that the work is not a mere random conglomeration drawn from various sources. The author is attempting to create a work possessing unity and cohesion and to this end he employs basic motifs associated with the hero, such as the motif of world-conqueror, of the φρενήρης (‘intelligent’) and the link with Heracles and Dionysus, which run through the totality of the work and ensure its cohesion. An additional interesting technique employed by the author is that of the redeployment of a motif. For example, the archetypal folk hero figure of Nektanebo, who is presented in the introduction of the Romance as Alexander’s father, is characterized by three features: magic, disguise and deception. These elements are used in a variety of ways in the description of the adventures of Alexander. In addition the triadic schema and antithesis are also employed. Considering that such figures are characteristic of folk tales as well, one acquires an idea of how skillfully the author has reworked his material, in order to create, by means of ‘popular’ tools, his own folk hero.

Folk Narrative Techniques in the Alexander Romance

in Mnemosyne



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On the author see Merkelbach 197788-92. The work has previously erroneously been attributed on the grounds of a Byzantine ms. to Kallisthenes a contemporary of Alexander and for this reason the author is sometimes referred to as Pseudo-Kallisthenes. On the composition date of the Alexander Romance see also Stoneman 1991 8-17.


Zacher 1867; Rhode 1960197-8; Nöldeke 1890; Ausfeld 1907; Pfister 1946 29-60.


Kroll 19191713-20; Deimann 1914; Merkelbach 1977; van Thiel 1983 xiii-xxix; Stoneman 1991 8-17. For an overview of these theories see Koulakiotis 2006 190-4.


Cf. Stoneman 1994119.


See van Thiel 1983xxix-xxxii; Stoneman 1991 8-17; Stoneman 2009.


Bounoure and Serret 1992xiv-xxiii; Centanni 1988 xvi-xxv; Jouanno 2002 29-34; Koulakiotis 2006 194-6.


Baynham 19954.


Konstan 1998; Franco 199950-4; Karla 2009 26-7.


See Merkelbach 197740; Pfister 1964 60-4; Payne 1991 169; Jouanno 2002 198; Koulakiotis 2006 214-7 with bibliography on this issue.


On this motif see Kroll 19191711-2; Pfister 1964 66-8; Stoneman 1994 123-4; Jouanno 2002 206-8.


Baynham 19959in particular n. 39.


Perry 1966; Stoneman 1992110-1; Jasnow 1997 100-3; Lloyd 1982 46-50. There were many narratives involving Nektanebo. See on this matter Konstantakos 2009 114-22 with bibliography.


Papathomas 2000. Cf. Trumpf 2006 who tries to show that the papyrus fragment (Pap. Berl. 21266) comes not from the historiographical tradition but from the Romance. This assumption is perhaps more appropriate to the usus scribendi of the author who sometimes changes the historiographical tradition in order to create his narrative technique.


On this passage see Koulakiotis 2006210. On the affinity of Alexander and Hermes see Koulakiotis 2006 227-32.


Merkelbach 197789; Bounoure and Serret 1992 252; Baynham 1995 10-2.


See for example Olrik 1992.


On this issue see Merkelbach 197750; Jouanno 2002 193-4.

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