The History of Alexander of Macedonia

The History of Alexander of Macedonia

A truly rare jewel of illumination: an Armenian manuscript from the mountains of Cilicia about the life of Alexander the Great

  1. Stories of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) were a means of exploring the exotic and foreign for these isolated mountain dwellers

  2. Biblical motifs were often adapted to imbue the pagan Alexander with all the trappings of a great Christian paladin

  3. Armenian scriptoria had both unique characteristics as well as a distinct awareness and imitation of the Byzantine style

The History of Alexander of Macedonia

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
The History of Alexander of Macedonia

Medieval Armenians were famous as brave and skilled mounted knights and their kingdom in the mountains of Anatolia was a bastion of Christendom in the East. Their artistic tradition displays both unique characteristics as well as a distinct awareness and imitation of the Byzantine style. Alexander the Great was a popular chivalric figure among these brave warriors and stories of his conquests were a means of exploring the exotic and foreign for these isolated mountain dwellers.

The History of Alexander of Macedonia

This Armenian manuscript was likely made in Cilicia sometime in the second half of the 14th century. Stories of Alexander the Great were a popular subject for Armenian literature and a means of exploring the exotic and foreign for these isolated mountain dwellers. As indicated by various notes in the text, it is the work of a single hand – Deacon Nerses. This was not all that unusual in Eastern Christianity, which did not tend to specialize between scribe and miniaturist. Simple red frames surround the miniatures, which are somewhat detached from the text, and thus are equipped with helpful captions. Visual motifs and prototypes are often recycled for different scenes in order to meet the demands of such a richly-illustrated commission with so many scenes. This is particularly true with regard to battles scenes or depictions of the army on horseback. Biblical motifs were often adapted as well, e.g. a Nativity of Christ adapted into a Birth of Alexander, Christ among the Doctors becomes Alexander among the Wise. This also served to imbue the pagan Alexander with all the trappings of a great Christian paladin. Nonetheless, the miniatures are a testimony to the scriptoria of Armenia, which display both unique characteristics as well as a distinct awareness and imitation of the Byzantine style. A bright color palette that contrasted luminous oranges and red with cool blues and greens is present throughout, and the figures have powerful gestures and expressive facial expressions. This is truly a rare gem of illumination!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Codice armeno miniato del XIV secolo
La Storia di Alessandro il Macedone
Geschichte von Alexander von Macedonien

Available facsimile editions:
The History of Alexander of Macedonia  – ms. 424 – Biblioteca di San Lazzaro degli Armeni (Venice, Italy)
Aldo Ausilio Editore - Bottega d’Erasmo – Padua, 2003
Facsimile Editions

#1 La Storia di Alessandro il Macedone: Codice Armeno Miniato del XIV Secolo

Publisher: Aldo Ausilio Editore - Bottega d’Erasmo – Padua, 2003
Commentary: 1 volume by Giusto Traina, Carlo Franco, Dickran Kouymjian, Cecilia Veronese Arslan
Language: Italian
1 volume: This facsimile is not complete. Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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