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social sciences

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Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.E.)  
page: 1  2  

Because his reign was brief, it is difficult to determine whether Alexander is best regarded as an enlightened conqueror open to different cultures (as enthusiasts have painted him), or as an anti-democratic, overambitious, and vain warrior (as his detractors suggest). If he did show some very dramatic failings and excesses, such as his setting fire to the palace of Persepolis, they were due to his abuse of drink and he expressed much regret for them.

The homosexual aspect of Alexander's life was so public that it could not be obfuscated, even at times of extreme . Alexander was a model for other homosexual or bisexual soldier-kings, such as Julius Caesar, Hadrian, and Frederick the Great. His devotion to his lover serves as a counterpoint to the sexual follies and frenzies of other homosexual historical figures such as Nero or Elagabalus.

Sponsor Message.

The story of Alexander the Great has appealed to liberated gay men and lesbians, as evidenced by the phenomenal success of the historical fiction based on his life and exploits by lesbian author Mary Renault and gay male author Roger Peyrefitte.

Louis Godbout

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social sciences >> Overview:  Alexandria

Located on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, Alexandria has, by virtue of its decadent sensibility and the tributes of numerous writers, achieved a reputation for tolerance, but recently it has turned away from Europe and towards Mecca.

social sciences >> Caesar, Julius

One of the most powerful men of the ancient world, Julius Caesar was frequently reminded, sometimes derisively, of his youthful sexual affair with the king of Bithynia.

social sciences >> Elagabalus

The brief reign of the third-century Roman Emperor Elagabalus was legendary for its sexual excesses and he became emblematic of the debauched, sexually perverse ruler.

social sciences >> Frederick the Great

The homosexuality of Frederick the Great of Prussia was an open secret during his reign, yet some historians have attempted to deny it or to diminish its significance.

social sciences >> Hadrian

The love of the second-century Roman emperor Hadrian for the beautiful youth Antinous was exceptional not because the lovers were male, but because of its intensity.

literature >> Peyrefitte, Roger

As one of the most famous homosexuals in France in the latter half of the twentieth century, novelist Roger Peyrefitte helped shape the public perception of homosexuals in the days before gay liberation.

social sciences >> Philip II, King of Macedon

Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, achieved the hegemony of all of Greece before being killed by a young favorite.

literature >> Plutarch

No ancient is more instructive about pederasty than the Greek biographer and essayist Plutarch.

literature >> Renault, Mary

After five novels which included suggested lesbianism, Mary Renault turned to open male homosexuality in the last nine, which included The Charioteer and eight celebrated historical novels set in ancient Greece.


Arrian. History of Alexander and Indica. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976.

Curtius Rufus, Quintus. History of Alexander. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1946.

Peyrefitte, Roger. Alexandre le Grand. Paris : Albin Michel, 1981.

_____. Les conquêtes d'Alexandre. Paris : Albin Michel, 1979.

_____. La jeunesse d'Alexandre. Paris : Albin Michel, 1977.

Plutarch. The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans. New York: Modern Library, 1957.

Renault, Mary. Fire from Heaven. New York: Pantheon Books, 1969.

_____. Funeral Games. London: J. Murray, 1981.

_____. The Nature of Alexander. London : Allen Lane, 1975.

_____. The Persian Boy. New York : Pantheon Books, 1972.


    Citation Information
    Author: Godbout, Louis  
    Entry Title: Alexander the Great  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated November 24, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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