Images of Alexander

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The Persistence of the Image of Alexander the Great in Sculpture and Art Alexander the Great left behind a legacy that gave his name nothing short of its deserved praise. Even after his death, the attributes and accolades of Alexander continued to creep into folklore, sculpture, and architecture, with many leaders using the likenesses of him to further their own gains and legitimize their power. Some minted their images onto coins that bore his name, while Ptolemy even went so far as to steal Alexander's body in order to strengthen his claims to power. In the second century AD, as the Roman empire extended into northern Africa and Asia, much as Alexander's had done, the trend continued. Examining the sculptures of Alexander with Lance and the Statue of Emperor Trajan in the Sackler Museum, one can surmise the legitimacy to rule Trajan claimed by incorporating the Hellenistic attributes of Alexander, while still retaining the traditional Roman ideal of leadership in the piece's greater framework.

The bronze statuette of Alexander the Great, sculpted sometime between the first and second centuries CE, is a Roman copy of the Greek original, and thus sculpted after Lysippos. Alexander is portrayed looking left with his usual attributes. Particular to this statuette are his sunken eyes, possessing a piercing and powerful gaze, and his hair, perhaps his most distinctive feature, falling over his face in the typical anastole. With his right foot ahead of his left, Alexander is depicted stepping forward in the contrapposto stance. Though not shown in this statuette, Alexander appears to have been holding a lance in his hand, proudly raising it high to the heavens. This particular statue depicts Alexander as a warrior, as it is in the contrapposto stance often shown to portray action, in addition to his possession of...