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Old January 13th, 2018, 11:35 AM   #1

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Alexander the Great and his perception among Slavs

So, we all know the controversy about Alexander the Great that is going on between Greece and FYROM. And while that is an interesting and a controversial subject, I won't be talking about it here. Instead I am going to talk about Alexander and the perception of Alexander among other Slavs and Albanians.

So, in the 14th century a Serbian translation of the romance of Alexander appeared in both Glagollitic and Cyrillic. It was popular, similar to the Roman de Troie that was also popular in the Balkans, and it possibly influenced the Serbian epic poetry where the wife of Emperor Dušan is Roksanda, a name quite similar to Roxana. Anyway, many Slavic authors liked to include Alexander in the list of Slavs or connected to Slavs. Most famous example is from Ivan Gundulić's epic Osman where Alexander is called Lesandar Srbljanin (Lesander the Serb). We find a similar name in Mate Alberti's works: Aleksandar Sarbljanin. Hanibal Lucić in his poem titled Anibal Lucić Hvaranin u pohvalu grada Dubrovnika (Hanibal Lucić from Hvar in praise of the city of Dubrovnik) calls Alexander like this: Aležandar, ki bi od Srblji kralj. Basically calling Alexander a Serbian king. Others, like Jerolim Kavanjin calls Alexander a Slavic king, although this source is not quite strong. Other authors like Dinko Ranjina and Dominiko Zlatarić also shared this view.

The other story is the story of the so-called donation of Alexander. The earliest extant reference to this story dates from the 13th century Poland, though it is possible that it originated among South Slavs. The story goes that Alexander was impressed by the Slavs in his service and gave them a territorial grant, as Andrija Kačić-Miošić describes it: from the Latin Sea to Baltic Ice. It was Vinko Pribojević who, in 1532, who called attention to this story, though in its original version the lands of the South Slavs were excluded from the donation, likely because Pribojević got it from Western Slavic sources. The story of the donation was accepted by other authors such as Matija Antun Reljković and Franjo Glavinić, while there were others, like Juraj Križanić, who rejected the donation story as a fairy tale and that ancient Illyrians were not Slavs.

So, an interesting thing I noticed.
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Old January 13th, 2018, 03:00 PM   #2

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Didn't know Alexander was "popular" among Slavs that early. Kind of makes sense, especially the donation epic, if we consider the logic of that time and limited knowledge about the migration period. As late as the early 19th century many people believed South Slavs were descendants of Illyrians and thus natives since pre-Roman times (basically time immemorrial in their eyes, right?).

I asume he was not contemporary enough to turn him into a "sleeping hero/king in the mountain" type figure in folk legends like Kraljević Marko or Kralj Matjaž?
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Old January 13th, 2018, 10:55 PM   #3

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Actually, in Macedonia, Alexander the Great was one of the most popular folk heroes, along with Marko Kraljević. However, unlike Marko, who was "omnipresent" and originated from epic poetry, memory of Alexander came from the books about him, so those who wished to describe Alexander would have to refer to the daskali (teachers) who had those books.

Last edited by Maki; January 13th, 2018 at 11:00 PM.
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