A name for any of a number of fictional biographies
of Alexander the Great
. The first we have are written in Syriac
, and date to the early first century B.C., while the stories continue well into the Middle Ages
in what seems to be an unbroken
, multi-lingual tradition
. The most famous were written by Leo Archipresbyter
in the 10th century of this era.
Most have several features in common. The Hebrew manuscript
(now in the British Museum
, if I remember correctly), begins with Alexander's taming of his horse
(ox-head), depicting the horse flaring, stamping in his stables on the bones of his dead handlers. Alexander spits
on his hand and slaps the beast
on the thigh
, immediately taming it.
Another is the now-famous story of Alexander's birth. The exiled pharaoh Nectanebo II (old fat-face) comes to the Macedonian court, and tells Olympia that she will soon give birth to a god. Then, in the deep of night, he comes to her in his incarnation as the divine Horus, Amun Ra, and impregnates her, thereby setting up both Alexander's claim to the thone of Egypt and the fulfillment of the King Arthur-like return of the pharaohs to save the Egyptian people.
Many other wacky and zany adventures ensue. A brief translation from Leo's translation of the Romance of Pseudo-Callisthenes:
Then we came to the red sea(as everyone likes to point out in the footnotes, probably the Persian Gulf). There was a tall mountain there, and when we climbed it it was as if we were in the heavens.
I decided with my friends to build a device that I might truly ascend to the heavens and see if that was indeed what we were seeing.I prepared a device where I might sit and caught gryphons and bound these with chains and placed poles before them, on the tips of which I hung their food, and thus began to climb into the sky. Divine grace however overshadowed them, and after ten days threw me far to the earth from my planned route into a field, though I sustained no wounds.