Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The profound relationship between Alexander the Great and British political discourse has been documented in the nineteenth century (for example, Vasunia 2007 and Hagerman 2009). Yet, beyond articles covering the historiography of the Scottish Enlightenment (Briant 2005) or case studies of his particularly negative repute in post-Restoration literature (Brauer 1980 and Wild 2004), little research has been conducted into the eighteenth-century Alexander. Focussing on the period between the Restoration and the Napoleonic Wars, this thesis explores how Alexander was used in discourse on martial achievement, heroic virtue, conquest and empire in British political thought. Concomitantly, it will discuss how various discourses, writers and imitators effected the conception of Alexander.
The first chapter introduces a range of political appropriations of Alexander that emerged during the Restoration. The second chapter focuses on the discourse on civic virtue in English writing from the 1690s to the 1760s, to understand why Alexander’s character and achievements were criticised. The third chapter assess the deployment of Alexander in historical writing as a vexed and protean model for thinking through the ideologies of empire, from the 1690s until the 1790s. The fourth chapter investigates the British reaction to Napoleon Bonaparte, and particularly his invasion of Egypt. A final concluding chapter provides some reflections on the repute of Alexander in the nineteenth century. The evidence used in this thesis includes acts of Alexander imitatio by British and non-British figures, a range of different types of comparatio in drama and poetry, and works of history.
Date of Award2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorLindsay Allen (Supervisor) & Jon Wilson (Supervisor)

Cite this