Herakles and Alexander the Great
Herakles on drachm of
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great of Macedon, like his father and earlier dynasty members, claimed heritage from Herakles (indeed, it was reputedly this lineage that finally got his great-grandfather a passport from the fringes of the Greek world to the prestigious Olympic Games). Through his life and deeds the great conqueror tried to present himself as the historical Herakles hero. This is readily reflected his coinage, where both silver and bronze issues feature him prominently - according to some, with the actual features of Alexander himself. Through Alexander's myth, as spread during the Roman times through his biographies by Plutarch and Pseudo-Callisthenes, Herakles' exploits indirecty entered the medieval European literary and moral heritage, as a kind of "manual" on chivalry and courtly behavior for young nobility. Over time, four different literary traditions of this tale have developed, one of which was formed in medieval Serbia, and was generally known as the "Serbian Alexander". It represented (along with the Tale of Troy) one of the finest examples of secular literature, and from there, in turn, it migrated further east to Russia. Here, closing the full circle and getting back to coinage - one finds somewhat unexpected, if crude, renditions of Alexander and Herakles himself on certain early Russian feudal issues.
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