The Alexandra of Lykophron

ISBN : 9780198863342

Lykophron; Simon Hornblower
256 Pages
129 x 196 mm
Pub date
Apr 2022
Oxford World's Classics
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  • Alexandra relates the fortunes of the heroes of the Trojan War in the prophetic words of the Trojan princess Kassandra
  • A nuanced translation by an eminent classical scholar
  • Introduction looking at myth, language, religion, history of the text, dating, and authorship
  • Extensive explantory notes and select bibliography

'In requital for one man's sin, all Greece/ shall mourn the empty tombs of ten thousand of its children'.

These lines from a powerful but neglected Greek poem, Lykophron's Alexandra, were admiringly imitated by Virgil.
Priam's beautiful daughter, prophetic Kassandra, foresees her rape in Athena's temple by the hateful Greek Ajax at Troy's fall, and warns of disastrous returns (nostoi) for all the Greek 'heroes'. But Troy will rise again as Rome, founded by Trojan refugees. The Alexandra (also known as Kassandra) narrates Mediterranean foundation myths as failed Greek nostoi, and culminates in 'prophecies-after-the-event' of Roman rule over land and sea. This pseudonymous poem, a generic mix but closest to tragedy, is an ingeniously constructed masterpiece. It is ascribed to a third-century BCE tragedian, but was probably written c.190, when Rome had defeated Carthaginian Hannibal and was poised to humble the Seleukid king Antiochos III. The Alexandra anticipates, by over two millennia, modern Trojan War novels which adopt bitterly disillusioned female perspectives.


Preface and Acknowledgments
Note on the text and translation
Select Bibliography
Synopsis of the Poem
Explanatory notes

About the author: 

Simon Hornblower
, Professor of Classics and Ancient History, University of Oxford
Simon Hornblower held teaching and research posts at Oxford and UCL until retirement in 2016. He is a Fellow of the British Academy. His books include a large-scale scholarly edition, with commentary, of Lykophron's Alexandra (2015), and a monograph, Lykophron's Alexandra, Rome, and the Hellenistic World (2018); both Oxford University Press. His most recent book is a co-authored edition of and commentary on Livy Book 22.

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