Alexander in popular culture
Thursday, 21 March 2013 from 6:30 PM to 8:15 PM (AEDT)
About the talk:
The exploits of Alexander the Great fascinated and inspired the ancients, but his popularity as a major historical figure has not dimmed in the modern world. Identified in either a positive or negative light, as a god or a demon, Alexander was to appear in the Bible, The Qu’ran, various Persian and Zooastrian textss and in Dante’s masterpiece The Inferno. He has appeared in modern historical fiction novels including trilogies by Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Roger Peyrefitte and most famously Mary Renault’s Fire From Heaven series. Culturally sweeping borders, Alexander is known in Indian films, Arabic literature and lent his name to an airport in Macedonia. For a decade the Greeks had his portrait on the 100 drachma coin as a symbol of Greek national identity.
His legacy in Afghanistan in particular has intrigued outsiders – Rudyard Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King” features Alexander’s shadow in Afghanistan during one foreign intervention, while Steve Pressfield’s 2006 novel The Afghan Campaign feature’s Alexander’s soldiers on the eve of a more recent but no-less bloody foreign incursion.
Alexander himself has also been portrayed on television (by William Shatner), in film (by Richard Burton and Colin Farrell), in a play by Terrance Rattigan, on a board game, in a song by the heavy metal band Iron Maiden, and in the computer games ‘Age of Empires’ and ‘Rise of Nations’. But which Alexander is it? In 1950s Hollywood films he is often presented as a precursor to the coming of Jesus, while in Oliver Stone’s 2004 film Alexander he is an apologist for contemporary US Middle Eastern foreign policy.
Why do we keep on returning to Alexander? How does each generation look at him? And how much do we try to project ourselves onto the Alexander the Great story? This illustrated talk will look at Alexander as we have seen him in modern popular culture.
About the speaker:
Dr Craig Barker graduated with a PhD in Classical Archaeology from the University of Sydney in 2005, researching transport amphorae from the ‘Tombs of the Kings’ at Paphos in Cyprus. He has worked as a tutor and a lecturer for the Department, and is currently Manager of Education and Public Programs for Sydney University Museums, which includes the collections of the Nicholson and Macleay Museums. This work has seen him take a keen interest in public archaeology and the promotion of archaeological work to the wider community.
He has worked extensively on fieldwork in Australia, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, and is co-director of the University of Sydney’s excavations of the site of the Hellenistic-Roman theatre of Paphos along with Richard Green and Smadar Gabrieli. His interests include the eastern Mediterranean wine trade, theatre architecture, Hellenistic funerary practices, archaeological education and the portrayal of archaeology in popular culture.
Date: 21 March 2013
Time: 6.30pm cheese and wine, 7.00pm lecture begins
Please note that the exhibition will not be open during the evening.