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Histories of Alexander the Great

Quintus Curtius Rufus, probably of the 1st century, was an author of Historiae Alexandri Magni, "Histories of Alexander the Great", or more fully Historiarum Alexandri Magni Macedonis Libri Qui Supersunt, "All the Books That Survive of the Histories of Alexander the Great of Macedon." Much of the book is missing. Apart from his name on the manuscripts, nothing else certain is known of the author.
Curtius' work is uniquely isolated. No other ancient work refers to it, or as far as is known, to him, suggesting, that the booc was censored by the Senate and Emperor. The provinces of the ex-Macedonian Empire were difficult to govern, on the point of rebellion. The work of Curtius, Pratt conjectures, was not politically appropriate because it would have encouraged independence.
The earliest opportune moment to publish the book was the year 167, when the campaign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius against the Parthian Empire had failed, and the returning troops were in bad morale and infected with the Antonine Plague. The emperor attempted to build national pride among the former Macedonian states. The manuscript, by this time damaged and partly destroyed, was finally published, accounting for the previous lack of references to it. As the emperors probably had surmised, it was immediately popular.
Most credible identity of the author is Quintus Curtius Rufus, a member of the Curtii Rufi branch of the Curtii family, one of the original nobility of Rome.
He could have written the Histories in the year or two before his consulship. Tacitus says that he was on the staff of the Quaestor of Africa during that time, which would have given him the opportunity to use the Library of Alexandria.
Detail from BL Burn 169, f. 111
76 Media in collectionpage 1 of 1

Birth of Alexander the Great from BL Royal 20 C III, f. 15

Miniature of Olympias giving birth to Alexander the Great, with two eagles on the roof of the palace (foretelling Alexander's two empires in Europe and Asia). The temple of Diana at Ephesus burns in the backgro... more

Alexander consults his astrologers from BL Burn 169, f. 69

Miniature of Alexander the Great consulting his astrologers about an eclipse of the sun after the battle of Arbela and illuminated initial 'A'(lexandre) in Vasco da Lucena's French translation of Rufus's Histor... more

Vasca da Lucena offering the book to Charles the Bold from BL Royal 17 F I, f. 14

Miniature of Vasca da Lucena offering the book to Charles the Bold, with a full foliate border including hybrid grotesques. Image taken from f. 14 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Ale... more

Man riding a grotesque from BL Royal 17 F I, f. 14

Detail of a marginal miniature of a man riding a grotesque bird, from the right-hand margin of the folio. Image taken from f. 14 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Archer from BL Royal 17 F I, f. 14

Detail of an archer among foliage and strawberries, from the lower margin of the folio. Image taken from f. 14 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Vasca da Lucena offering the book to Charles the Bold from BL Royal 17 F I, f. 14

Detail of a miniature of Vasca da Lucena offering the book to Charles the Bold. Image taken from f. 14 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Alexander addressing his troops from BL Royal 17 F I, f. 198

Miniature of Alexander addressing his troops. Image taken from f. 198 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Birth of Alexander the Great from BL Royal 20 C III, f. 15

Detail of a miniature of Olympias giving birth to Alexander the Great, with two eagles on the roof of the palace (foretelling Alexander's two empires in Europe and Asia). The temple of Diana at Ephesus burns in... more

Siege from BL Burn 169, f. 21v

Miniature of a siege. Image taken from f. 21v of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Jousting from BL Burn 169, f. 84

Miniature of jousting. Image taken from f. 84 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Battle from BL Burn 169, f. 50

Miniature of a battle, and decorated initial and border. Image taken from f. 50 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Writt... more

Battle from BL Burn 169, f. 111

Miniature of battle, with soldiers being pushed off of a cliff. Image taken from f. 111 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni... more

Queen from BL Burn 169, f. 14

Miniature of a queen in bed with a dragon, the king looking on from a window. Image taken from f. 14 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Al... more

Presentation of the volume from BL Burn 169, f. 11

Miniature of the presentation of the volume, with border with heraldic decoration. Image taken from f. 11 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Histor... more

Detail from BL Burn 169, f. 84

Detail of initial and lower border. Image taken from f. 84 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Detail from BL Burn 169, f. 14

Detail of miniature. Image taken from f. 14 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Detail from BL Burn 169, f. 111

Detail of miniature. Image taken from f. 111 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Detail from BL Burn 169, f. 21v

Miniature of cannons firing at a besieged city in flames. Image taken from f. 21v of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Wri... more

Detail from BL Burn 169, f. 50

Detail of initial and lower border. Image taken from f. 50 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Detail from BL Burn 169, f. 11

Detail of heraldic decoration. Image taken from f. 11 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Presentation of the volume from BL Burn 169, f. 11

Detail of the miniature. Image taken from f. 11 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Detail from BL Burn 169, f. 50

Detail of miniature. Image taken from f. 50 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Detail from BL Burn 169, f. 84

Detail of miniature. Image taken from f. 84 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Surrender of Arbela from BL Royal 17 F I, f. 96

Miniature of the surrender of Arbela, with a full border including hybrid grotesques and a foliate initial 'S'(e), at the beginning of book 4. Image taken from f. 96 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe de... more

Roxane being brought before Alexander from BL Royal 17 F I, f. 178v

Detail of a miniature of Roxane being brought before Alexander. Image taken from f. 178v of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Death of Alexander of Epirus from BL Royal 17 F I, f. 120

Miniature of the death of Alexander of Epirus, with a decorated initial 'A' and a full foliate border containing hybrid grotesques. Image taken from f. 120 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du ... more

Illuminated initial from BL Burn 169, f. 42

Illuminated initial. Image taken from f. 42 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Illuminated initial from BL Burn 169, f. 176

Illuminated initial. Image taken from f. 176 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Alexander the Great from BL Burn 169, f. 25

Miniature of Alexander the Great encounters Diogenes in his barrel in Vasco da Lucena's French translation of Rufus's Historia Alexandri magni, executed mainly in grisaille. Image taken from f. 25 of History of... more

Text page from BL Royal 17 F I, f. 178

Text page. Image taken from f. 178 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Alexander and his army from BL Royal 20 C III, f. 183

Miniature of the enthroned Alexander giving orders to his generals. Image taken from f. 183 of Historia Alexandri Magni. Written in French.

Sacrifices to the sun from BL Royal 20 C III, f. 214v

Miniature of Alexander directing sacrifices to the sun. Image taken from f. 214v of Historia Alexandri Magni. Written in French.

Cleander and others beheaded from BL Royal 20 C III, f. 238

Miniature of Cleander and others beheaded Image taken from f. 238 of Historia Alexandri Magni. Written in French.

Alexander attends funeral from BL Royal 20 C III, f. 129

Miniature of Alexander attending the funeral of those killed fighting Darius. Image taken from f. 129 of Historia Alexandri Magni. Written in French.

Death of Alexander Lyncestes from BL Royal 20 C III, f. 156

Miniature of the death of Alexander Lyncestes. Image taken from f. 156 of Historia Alexandri Magni. Written in French.

Darius' letter being delivered from BL Royal 20 C III, f. 63

Miniature of Darius' letter being delivered. Image taken from f. 63 of Historia Alexandri Magni. Written in French.

Charles the Bold and Vasco da Lucena from BL Royal 20 C III, f. 12

Frontispiece with miniature of Vasco da Lucena presenting his translation to Charles the Bold. Image taken from f. 12 of Historia Alexandri Magni. Written in French.

Surrender of Celaenae from BL Royal 20 C III, f. 42

Miniature of the surrender of Celaenae. Image taken from f. 42 of Historia Alexandri Magni. Written in French.

Handguns from BL Burn 169, f. 127

Miniature of handguns in use at a siege. Image taken from f. 127 of History of Alexander the Great (Les faize d'Alexandre) (index De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni; Historia Alexandri Magni). Written in French.

Death of Meleager from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 218v

Detail of a miniature of the death of Meleager. Image taken from f. 218v of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Alexander from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 101v

Detail of a miniature of Alexander and his army crossing a frozen river. Image taken from f. 101v of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Charles the Bold from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 11

Detail of a miniature of Charles the Bold receiving the book from the translator, Vasco de Lucena, at the beginning of the prologue. Image taken from f. 11 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du ... more

Man and stork from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 112

Detail of a male figure standing next to a stork, from the margins of the folio. Image taken from f. 112 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Grotesque from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 112

Detail of a female grotesque, from the margins of the folio. Image taken from f. 112 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Royal arms from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 219

Detail of a miniature of royal arms. Image taken from f. 219 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Charles the Bold from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 11

Miniature of Charles the Bold receiving the book from the translator, Vasco de Lucena, and a foliate initial 'T'(res), with a full border containing a man with a cross-bow and an added shield bearing the Tudor ... more

Death of Alexander from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 112

Detail of a miniature of the death of Alexander king of Epirus during a battle, at the beginning of book 5. Image taken from f. 112 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Writte... more

Death of Alexander from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 112

Miniature of the death of Alexander king of Epirus during a battle, and a foliate initial 'A'(lexandre), with a full border, including grotesque hybrids, at the beginning of book 5. Image taken from f. 112 of H... more

Royal arms from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 219

Miniature of royal arms, with inscriptions. Image taken from f. 219 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Alexander from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 101v

Miniature of Alexander and his army crossing a frozen river. Image taken from f. 101v of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Death of Meleager from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 218v

Miniature of the death of Meleager. Image taken from f. 218v of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Destruction of Thebes from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 24v

Miniature of the destruction of Thebes. Image taken from f. 24v of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Death of Alexander Lyncestes from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 135

Miniature of the death of Alexander Lyncestes, and an illuminated initial 'L'(es capitaines), with a full border, at the beginning of book 6. Image taken from f. 135 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe de... more

Death of Callisthenes from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 172

Miniature of the death of Callisthenes, and an illuminated initial 'A'(lexandre), with a full border, at the beginning of book 7. Image taken from f. 172 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du gr... more

Death of Meleager and Tudor rose from BL Royal 15 D IV, ff. 218v-219

Miniature of the death of Meleager, with a partial border; and a miniature of a Tudor rose and pomegranates, between two lions surmounted by a fleur-de-lis and a crown, with the autograph inscriptions of Margar... more

Battle of Issus from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 50

Miniature of the battle of Issus with a full border containing a women playing the cithara and a man singing. Image taken from f. 50 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Writt... more

Passage of Oxus from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 145

Miniature of Alexander the Great and his army passing the river of Oxus, with a full border. Image taken from f. 145 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Death of Alexander from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 112

Miniature of the death of Alexander king of Epirus during a battle, and a foliate initial 'A'(lexandre), with a full border, including grotesque hybrids, at the beginning of book 5. Image taken from f. 112 of H... more

Border from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 38

Detail of a man doing a handstand amongst the foliage in the lower border of the folio. Image taken from f. 38 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Miniature from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 38

Detail of a miniature in grisaille of an army camped outside a city. Image taken from f. 38 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Miniature from BL Royal 15 D IV, f. 38

Miniature in grisaille of an army camped outside a city. Image taken from f. 38 of Historia Alexandri (Quinte Curse Ruffe des faiz du grant Alexandre). Written in French.

Quinta Etas Mundi - Nuremberg Chronicle (p. 224)

Collection of natural science, astronomy and ancient technology images from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 1r MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 2v MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 21v MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 43v MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 51v MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 67v MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 88v MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 101v MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 119r MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 127v MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 164v MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 188v MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 196v MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.

The Romance of Alexander 218r MS. Bodl. 264

Collection of medieval manuscript pages from various sources selected by BibliOdyssey.