12th century map by the Muslim scholar Al-Idrisi (South up).
The story of Dhul-Qarnayn as described in the Qur'an follows very closely some passages of the Alexander Romance. "Yajooj" and "Majooj" (Gog and Magog) appear in Arabic script on the bottom-left edge of the Eurasian landmass, enclosed within dark mountains, at a location corresponding roughly to Mongolia. This is a reference to the story of Dhul-Qarnayn in the Qur'an.
Alexander became a 'divine man' and as with other divine men of Antiquity, the closer we look at the sources, the less we find. I therefore pose this question: what, if anything, do we know of Alexander?
The question, of course, is directed at the primary sources, mainly documentary and also archaeological.
The usual answer for Alexander is that this is good enough, but I am less sure.
Livius addresses this question here: Essays on Alexander the Great
and here: The good sources
All these authors lived more than three centuries after the events they described, but they used older, nearly contemporary sources, that are now lost.
That is the argument used by theologians for religion, rather than historians to produce good history.
The book of Deeds of Alexander is now lost, but underlies much of what was written later.
I suggest that we do not know nearly as much about Alexander as we like to think and that the Alexander Romance
is confused with history.
My concern goes deeper than that, for the concept of Alexander as divine becomes interwoven into the beliefs and actions of important people and major events in the last century of the past era and the first century of the common era., as we begin to see with Alexander Helios
, the eldest son of Cleopatra VII.
The history for Classical Antiquity has more holes that a Swiss cheese and is about as rotten as one would expect after 2000 years of corruption.