Alexander the Great

HIST 5373 / Under Construction

Alexander mosaic

The Battle of the Issus. Alexander is on the far left, Darius is right of center.  Mosaic from Pompeii, 1st century CE


This seminar will examine the life and career of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE). With particular emphasis on interpreting the ancient sources, we will cover his early years, his ascension to the throne of Macedonia, and his remarkable campaign that toppled the Persian Empire and took Alexander as far as India. But we will also examine Alexander's darker side, including his genocidal campaigns in the east, his relationship with conquered peoples and his own Macedonians, his belief in his own divinity, and his unsavory personal life. Finally, we will look at the legend of Alexander the Great that arose after his death and seeped into many different cultures and regions.


Paper 1: An analysis of one of the fragmentary historians contained in Robinson's History of Alexander the Great.

Paper 2: An analysis of Plutarch's Life of Alexander compared with his Life of Julius Caesar.

Paper 3: A comparative review of Bosworth's Conquest and Empire and Hammond's King, Commander, and Statesman.

Grading Breakdown:
Paper 1: 10%
Paper 2: 30%
Paper 3: 60%

Reading Materials 

Information on Transliterating Greek text 

Required Texts:
Bosworth, A. B. Conquest and Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great. ISBN 9780521406796
Duff, Timothy, ed. Plutarch: The Age of Alexander. ISBN 9780140449358
Hammond, N. G. L. Alexander the Great: King, Commander, and Statesman. ISBN 9781853990687
Robinson, C. A. The History of Alexander the Great. Translation of the Extant Historians. ISBN 0890055556
Romm, James, ed. The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander. ISBN 9780375423468
Stoneman, Richard. The Greek Alexander Romance. ISBN 9780140445602
Yardley, John, trans. Justin: Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, Volume I. ISBN 0198149085
Yardley, John, trans. Quintus Curtius Rufus: The History of Alexander. ISBN 9780140444124

Texts on Reserve in Mullins: 
Bosworth, A. B. Alexander and the East: The Tragedy of a Triumph. 1996
Bosworth, A. B. Conquest and Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great. 1988.
Cartledge, Paul. Alexander the Great : the hunt for a new past. 2004 
Engels, Donald. Alexander the Great and the logistics of the Macedonian army. 1978
Green, Peter. Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.; a historical biography. 1971 
Hammond, N. G. L. Alexander the Great: King, Commander, and Statesman. 1980.
Heckel, Waldemar. Who's who in the age of Alexander the Great. 2004 
Heckel, Waldemar and Lawrence Tritle. Alexander the Great: A New History. 2009
O’Brien, John. Alexander the Great : the invisible enemy. 1992. 
Ogden, Daniel. Alexander the Great: Myth, Genesis, and Sexuality. 2011.
Stoneman, Richard. Alexander the Great: A Life in Legend. 2008
Tarn, W. W. Alexander the Great. 2 volumes - volume 1 is a short biography, volume 2 detailed studies on various problems.

Online translations of Alexander Sources
Diodorus Siculus Book 17: Chapters 1-16 Chapters 17-39 Chapters 40-63 Chapters 64-83 Chapters 84-103 Chapters 104-118

Other Online Resources:
The Oxford Classical Dictionary (Off campus link) - Standard one-volume reference for the ancient world.
Cambridge Ancient History Volume 6 - The chapters on Alexander the Great are basically an abridged version of Bosworth's Conquest and Empire, but there is much relevant background information on Greeks, Macedonians, and Persians here.
Bibliographic Resources for Ancient Historians - a collection of various databases and reference works.


Academic Integrity: As a core part of its mission, the University of Arkansas provides students with the opportunity to further their educational goals through programs of study and research in an environment that promotes freedom of inquiry and academic responsibility. Accomplishing this mission is  only possible when intellectual honesty and individual integrity prevail.

Each University of Arkansas student is required to be familiar with and abide by the University’s ‘Academic Integrity Policy’ which may be found at Students with questions about how these policies apply to a particular course or assignment should immediately contact their instructor.

Equal Access: University of Arkansas Academic Policy Series 1520.10 requires that students with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodations to ensure their equal access to course content. If you have a documented disability and require accommodations, please contact me privately at the beginning of the semester to make arrangements for necessary classroom adjustments. Please note, you must first verify your eligibility for these through the Center for Educational Access (contact 479-575-3104 or visit for more information on registration procedures). 

Inclement Weather: If the University stops running the Razorback Bus System because of snow or bad weather, there will be no class. Otherwise, class is on! 

Miscellaneous: Please turn off and put away all cell phones and any other non-course related items and finish any food you might be eating before coming into class. Drinks are acceptable. Please remain seated during class - if you need to use the lavatory, do so before or after class. 

Weekly Topics and Links to Reading Assignments

January 16: Introduction: Persia, the Greeks, and the Macedonians

January 23: The Sources for Alexander the Great

January 30: Philip and Alexander

February 6: The Invasion of Asia Minor

February 13: The Battle of the Issus and the Conquest of Egypt

February 27: Gaugamela and Persepolis

March 6: The New King

March 13: The War in Afghanistan and India

Spring Break!

March 27: Journey Home

April 3: Alexander's Future Plans and the Unity of Mankind

April 10: The Death of Alexander

April 17: Alexander's Divinity

April 24: Alexander's Sex Life & Other Vices

May 1: Alexander through the Ages