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Mon, Mar. 22nd, 2010, 09:40 pm
kizzikat: Essay on Hephaestion

I don’t know if anyone will be interested but I’ve written a very long, and doubtless boring, essay on Alexander & Hephaestion’s early years. 


1.                  Age(1) http://kizzikat.livejournal.com/15767.html#cutid1

2.                  Mieza http://kizzikat.livejournal.com/16317.html#cutid1

3.                  The Pages http://kizzikat.livejournal.com/16640.html#cutid1

4.                  The Older Pages http://kizzikat.livejournal.com/17258.html#cutid1

5.                  Age (2) http://kizzikat.livejournal.com/17813.html#cutid1

6.                  Erastes/eromenos (1) http://kizzikat.livejournal.com/18109.html#cutid1

7.                  Erastes/eromenos (2) http://kizzikat.livejournal.com/18197.html#cutid1

8.                  Amyntas http://kizzikat.livejournal.com/18546.html#cutid1

9.                  Alexander of Epirus http://kizzikat.livejournal.com/18884.html#cutid1

10.              The women of Alexander’s family (1) http://kizzikat.livejournal.com/19169.html#cutid1

11.              The women of Alexander’s family (2) http://kizzikat.livejournal.com/19375.html#cutid1

12.              Ages of Alexander’s associates http://kizzikat.livejournal.com/19543.html#cutid1


Tue, Mar. 23rd, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC)
apollinaris: Quintus Curtius Rufus

"The only reference we have for Hephaestion’s age, apart from Arrian calling him a young man at his death, is from Curtius..." which exemplifies the problem of learning about the life of Alexander (including, of course, Hephaestion).

This Rufus is writing ca 60 CE. We do not have his sources. These two facts alone make him unreliable.

But more than that, Rufus is part of a wider context of politics and philosophy for the period and in that, I don't see him as a historian. In short, this is part of the mythology and faith of those times, not history.

Tue, Mar. 23rd, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC)

By that token, is there ever such a thing as history?

Tue, Mar. 23rd, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)

The nature of history is another discussion, I think. If you wish me to define my terms, then I mean history as the study of the human past (rather than cultural heritage).

Tue, Mar. 23rd, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)

But all writers are influenced by 'the wider context of politics and philosophy for the period'. That is the purpose of source criticism: to analyse the texts within those contexts and to try to understand why they are saying what they are saying - obviously, a massively imprecise science. But to throw it all out as fundamentally 'unreliable' is pointlessly reductive, imo.

Tue, Mar. 23rd, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)

Thank you for expanding on your point. My description of Rufus as unreliable applies to him as a source for the 4th century and Alexander. What he was saying is important, though in a different context, in my opinion.

Tue, Mar. 23rd, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)

Fair enough. I would certainly agree, to a point. However, to my mind there is a difference in disputing the validity of cultural/political attitudes (such as the erastes/eromenos template kizzikat treats in her essay, or Curtius' portrayal of plots), and in doubting the statement of basic facts such as age. That doesn't make it a certainty - given that no other sources address it, and that, as you point out, we do not have the ultimate source for Curtius' information - but it doesn't mean we should dismiss it entirely.

Edited at 2010-03-23 04:00 pm (UTC)

Tue, Mar. 23rd, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
kizzikat: Re: Quintus Curtius Rufus

Curtius certainly is unreliable, given to exaggeration and romanticism, but given the limited sources we have on Alexander, surely we should hold on to everything we have - just examine it carefully? As proskynesis says, isn't that the purpose of the study of history, to try to ascertain what is and what isn't true?

Surely though, we can trust Curtius on such a generalised statement. He is not specific about Hephaestion's exact age, but he does not state either that he was an old man or a boy. True, he might wish to romanticise Alexander and Hephaestion's relationship, but if that was his point, he could have been much more explicit. I don't see that there is any reason to doubt that Hephaestion was a young man, about the same age as Alexander.

BTW, I only saw your other post the other day and I will try and reply tonight.

Tue, Mar. 23rd, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)
apollinaris: Re: Quintus Curtius Rufus

Well, perhaps I should apologise for posting as I did, for it was provocative and I am unprepared to follow through in a detailed manner.

I regard Historiae Alexandri Magni as part of a movement of the first two centuries concerned with the deification of Alexander and therefore I would not accept any detail at face value.

One of the reasons I am ill-prepared is that I do not know yet of any possible relationship between Quintus Curtius Rufus and Gaius Musonius Rufus and if so, what that may mean. A possible connection with Apollonius of Tyana is interesting to me in this regard.

Examine carefully, yes and also within context, which is how it becomes really interesting (and difficult) I find.

Tue, Mar. 23rd, 2010 07:58 pm (UTC)
kizzikat: Re: Quintus Curtius Rufus

I'm afraid you've gone beyond me here. I don't know anything about Gaius Musonius Rufus or Apollonius of Tyana (Tyre?).

Tue, Mar. 23rd, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC)
apollinaris: Re: Quintus Curtius Rufus

Some starting points:
"The Suda states that there are "speeches about philosophy bearing his name," and mentions letters to Apollonius of Tyana. The letters that survive are certainly not authentic. It is unknown whether Musonius wrote anything for publication. His philosophical opinions were collected by two of his students. One collection of Discourses, by a certain Lucius, form the basis of the 21 lengthy extracts preserved by Stobaeus. A second collection was compiled by one Pollio; it has been lost, but some fragments survive in quotations by later writers."

"Apollonius of Tyana... was a Greek Neopythagorean philosopher from the town of Tyana in the Roman province of Cappadocia in Asia Minor...compared to Jesus of Nazareth by pagans in the fourth century and by various popular writers in modern times."


On Musonius Rufus: A Brief Essay (1999) Richard Carrier http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/musonius.html
"Since this man deserves far more publicity than he has ever gotten in the modern age, I have written this short essay. He exemplifies the sort of man who should have been venerated and made the founder of a world religion, but was not, yet he was the moral superior in my opinion to Jesus--not perfect, but admirable within the context of his own day."

MUSONIUS RUFUS AND THE NEW TESTAMENT by PW Van Der Horst - 1974 http://www.jstor.org/pss/1560226

These touch the surface and even so, perhaps one can see that any connection between one Rufus and the other would provide an interesting context for a history of Alexander.

The cognomen Rufus crops up in some interesting places. My approach in trying to understand how beliefs develop over centuries includes looking closely at the genealogy of the bearers, because such transmission requires, I think, an institution to carry it and a dynasty can be such.