1st Edition

Masculine Ideals and Alexander the Great An Exemplary Man in the Roman and Medieval World

By Jaakkojuhani Peltonen Copyright 2024
    284 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    From premodern societies onward, humans have constructed and produced images of ideal masculinity to define the roles available for boys to grow into and images for adult men to imitate. The figure of Alexander the Great has fascinated people both within and outside academia. As a historical character, military commander, cultural figure and representative of the male gender, Alexander’s popularity is beyond dispute. Almost from the moment of his death, Alexander’s deeds have had a paradigmatic aspect: for over 2300 years, he has been represented as a paragon of manhood – an example to be followed by other men – and through his myth, people have negotiated assumptions about masculinity.

    This work breaks new ground by considering the ancient and medieval reception of Alexander the Great from a gender studies perspective. It explores the masculine ideals of the Greco-Roman and medieval pasts through the figure of Alexander the Great, analysing the gendered views of masculinities in those periods and relating them to the ways in which Alexander’s masculinity was presented. It does this by investigating Alexander’s appearance and its relation to definitions of masculinity, the way his childhood and adulthood are presented, his martial performance and skill, proper and improper sexual behaviour, and finally through his emotions and mental attributes.

    Masculine Ideals and Alexander the Great will appeal to students and scholars alike, as well as to those more generally interested in the portrayal of masculinity and gender, particularly in relation to Alexander the Great and his image throughout history.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license

    1. Introduction

    2. The Visage and Stature of an Idealized Young Male

    3. A Mature Boy, Heroic Youngster and an Unbalanced Young Man

    4. Manliness in Warfare

    5. Proper Male Sexuality

    6. Masculine Emotion Display and State Of Mind

    7. The Ideal of Masculine Dominance and Self-Control

    8. Epilogue


    Jaakkojuhani Peltonen is a postdoctoral researcher at Tampere University. A significant part of the research work for the present book was done while a visiting researcher at King’s College, London (2018–2020). His expertise includes the use of history, Alexander the Great, ideas of masculinity and the ideology of war in ancient Rome. His previous book in English, Alexander the Great in the Roman Empire. 150 BC to AD 600, was published by Routledge in 2019. He is an author and editor of several publications on Alexander the Great, the legitimisation of war and the use of history from a long-term perspective.

    Peltonen’s Masculine Ideas and Alexander the Great takes a fresh look at the ways in which multiple historical figures and cultures have defined masculinity through their reception of the famous Macedonian Conqueror. Arguably such receptions have been instrumental to Western conceptualisations of masculinity, as it has been constructed and understood, with repercussions still substantially affecting our societies today. The emphasis in this work is upon ancient, late antique and medieval constructions of masculinity in relation to Alexander and the book will likely be of especial interest to students and specialists of those eras in particular. It should likewise interest any who study Alexander the Great in any capacity. The scholarship is thorough and detailed; the arguments are well-founded. I am therefore very pleased to endorse this book wholeheartedly and I likewise strongly encourage colleagues and others to consider reading it and using it in their classes or for their own research.

    K.R. Moore, Teesside University