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What makes Alexander Great? His story has captured the imagination of authors, artists, philosophers, and politicians across more than two millennia. He has provided a point of convergence for religious and spiritual thinkers, he has been co-opted as a champion for gender and sexual openness, he represents a paradigm for would-be charismatic dictators (and their opponents), he gives us scientific imperialism and justification for conquistadorial dreaming, and he exemplifies the risks of cultural appropriation. To understand why Alexander resonates so widely across so many different fields of study, interest groups, and media, is an exercise in reception. This Alexander who has captured the imagination is triumphantly equivocal and it is in the plurality of traditions through which this complexity is expressed that his enduring “greatness” lies. The imaginary quality of Alexander is unsurprising because more profoundly than for any comparable individual from classical antiquity, his history is a product of reception from the start: every encounter with Alexander the Great is part of a conversation that depends substantially on accounts and narrative evidence from long after his death, and at the least at one remove from the historians who first and contemporaneously chronicled his life and achievements.

Article

Alexander John Graham and Stephen Mitchell

Byzantium, a famous city on the European side of the south end of the *Bosporus (1), between the Golden Horn and the *Propontis. The Greek city occupied only the eastern tip of the promontory, in the area now covered by the Byzantine and Ottoman palaces of Constantinople/Istanbul. The evidence of cults and institutions confirms the claim of the Megarians (see megara) to be the main founders, but groups from the Peloponnese and central Greece probably also participated in the original colony, which is to be dated 668 (Hdt. 4. 144) or 659 bce (Euseb. Chron.). Little material earlier than the late 7th cent. has yet emerged from excavations. Except during the *Ionian Revolt the city was under Persian control from *Darius I's Scythian expedition until 478. In the Athenian empire (see delian league) it paid fifteen talents' tribute or more, deriving its wealth from tuna fishing and from tolls levied on passing ships. The city also had an extensive territory not only in European *Thrace but also in *Bithynia and Mysia in Asia.

Article

Lawrence H. Schiffman

The Cairo geniza was a storeroom for no longer usable holy books in the synagogue of Fustat, Old Cairo, where for centuries, old Jewish manuscripts, mostly in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Judeo- Arabic, including also secular documents and communal records, were deposited. In the 19th century, European scholars became aware of this collection and manuscripts were removed to a variety of libraries in Europe and the United States. This material provides those studying the ancient world and ancient Jewish texts in particular with an amazing treasure of documents, throwing light on the history of the biblical text and its interpretation, the Hebrew language, Greek and Syriac versions of the Bible, Second Temple and Rabbinic literature, Jewish liturgy and the later history—political, economic, and religious—of the Jews in the Mediterranean basin. This material has totally reshaped our understanding of these fields. In the area of Bible, these texts illustrate the manner in which the vocalization and cantillation symbols were developed. Hebrew versions of some important Second Temple literature, later found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, had earlier been discovered in the geniza. Many previously unknown Midrashim and rabbinic exegetical materials have become known only from this collection. This material has provided an entirely new corpus of liturgical poetry.

Article

Chosroes II was one of the most important Sasanian rulers of Late Antiquity. After having prevailed with the help of Emperor Maurice in a civil war against the usurper Bahrām Čōbin, in 591 ce, the king attacked the Roman Empire after the fall of Maurice in 602. By 622, the Persians had conquered Syria and Egypt, but after the failure of the siege of Constantinople in 626, Chosroes, whose empire was attacked in the east by the Turks, was overthrown by dissatisfied aristocrats in 628. After his death, civil wars broke out that decisively weakened the Sasanian Empire in the wake of the Islamic conquests.Chosroes II “the Victorious” (M[iddle] P[ersian] Husrōy Abarwēz)—whose name occurs under the following spellings: Husraw, Khusro, Kisrā, and Khosroes—was the last great king of kings (šāhān šāh) of the Sasanian Empire and, together with the Roman emperor Heraclius and the Prophet Muhammad, one of the towering figures in the turbulent transitional period from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages. He was the grandson of Chosroes I Anōširvān (MP Husraw Anušuwān), with whom he often merged into a single figure in the traditions of the East. Born around .

Article

J. H. D. Scourfield

(5th–6th cents. ce), poet from *Coptus in Egypt. All that survives complete is an *ekphrasis on the statues decorating the baths of Zeuxippus in *Constantinople, which in diction and metrical practice shows clear traces of the influence of *Nonnus, and two epigrams. He was, however, a prolific author; lost works include an epic on Anastasius I's Isaurian victory in 497, versified histories (patria) of *Thessalonica, Nacle, *Miletus, *Tralles, *Aphrodisias, and *Constantinople (Suda, entry under the name), and a poem on the pupils of *Proclus (Lydus, Mag. 3. 26). He may have written the fragmentary poems in P. Vienna 29788 A–C.

Article

Heliodorus was the author of the Aethiopica, the latest and longest Greek novel to survive from antiquity. In his work, Heliodorus claims to be a Phoenician from Emesa, but there are good reasons against treating this as an authoritative autobiographical statement. The Aethiopica tells the adventures of Charicleia, the white daughter of the black queen and king of Ethiopia. Her mother abandons her, and she is brought up by foster-fathers in Ethiopia and Delphi. There she falls in love with the young Greek Theagenes, with whom she travels via Egypt to Ethiopia. They are almost sacrificed to the local gods, but Charicleia’s parents eventually recognise her. The protagonists become priests and marry. The novel is a narratologically ambitious work that draws on the structure of the Odyssey (in mediis rebus beginning, embedded heterodiegetic narratives) and takes these devices to a whole new level. A wide range of topics play important roles in the Aethiopica, such as religion, multiculturalism, identity, and epistemology.

Article

John Weisweiler

The just distribution of social goods was fiercely debated in the ancient Mediterranean and the ideologies of egalitarianism and inegalitarianism developed in Rome and Athens shaped Euro-American political thought from the Enlightenment onward. By contrast, the study of actual income and wealth distributions in ancient societies is a more recent development. Only in the early 21st century have scholars begun to make systematic attempts to quantify levels of inequality in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. Since we lack the documentary sources on which the study of inequality in contemporary economies is based, most of these reconstructions rely on a combination of modelling and the interpretation of isolated figures found in literary texts. This fragmentary evidence suggests that in the best-attested regions of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East inequality was considerable. In particular, the formation of large territorial states—most notably the empires of Babylon, Persia, and Rome—facilitated the concentration of wealth into fewer hands. But it is unclear whether inequality increased over time. At least, there is no unambiguous evidence that wealth and income were more unequally distributed in late antiquity than in earlier periods of Roman history.

Article

Dina Boero and Charles Kuper

Symeon the Stylite the Younger (521–592 ce), a pillar-saint or “stylite,” practised his mode of Christian asceticism for more than sixty years on a mountain southwest of Antioch. Symeon’s lifetime, spanning most of the 6th century, coincides with a drastic time of transition in the history of Antioch, which began with the devastating earthquake of 526 ce and includes events such as the sack of Antioch in 540 ce and the Plague of Justinian in the following years. Symeon also happens to be one of the best-documented holy men from this period. The remains of his monastery have been preserved and studied extensively. A number of pilgrimage objects, most notably clay tokens, have also received much scholarly attention. The extant literary evidence is also vast, though understudied in comparison. It includes homilies, letters, and short hymns penned by the saint himself, as well as two hagiographies composed by members of his monastic community shortly after his death. Symeon, therefore, is a critical figure for understanding many issues relevant to the study of the Eastern Roman Empire during this period: political, social, and theological history; the development of cult sites and pilgrimage; the literary self-representation of a stylite and his community; and the construction of monumental architecture and water management in remote locations in Syria, among many others.

Article

His date is not quite certain, but 4th century ce (rather than three centuries earlier) seems likeliest. He is a source for much of the Arabian information in Stephanus of Byzantium, in whose treatise on ethnics he is praised highly.