Alexander's physical appearence

Discuss the culture of Alexander's world and his image in art

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Vergina Sun
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Post by Vergina Sun »

athenas owl wrote:II saw that History Channel bio and thought the sideburns were a nice touch. There was a lot of that one that bothered me, though...sensationalizing aspects. Though that goes with the territory.
Yes, I suppose the History Channel did glorify him with heroic details, but he does deserve some glory, doesn't he? There was a nice blend of facts and myths (maybe too many myths?), but for the most part, I thought it was accurate. Even if there were some odd aspects, at least the casting for Alexander was brilliant. :)
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Post by athenas owl »

Vergina Sun wrote:
athenas owl wrote:II saw that History Channel bio and thought the sideburns were a nice touch. There was a lot of that one that bothered me, though...sensationalizing aspects. Though that goes with the territory.
Yes, I suppose the History Channel did glorify him with heroic details, but he does deserve some glory, doesn't he? There was a nice blend of facts and myths (maybe too many myths?), but for the most part, I thought it was accurate. Even if there were some odd aspects, at least the casting for Alexander was brilliant. :)
Oh I don't even take issue with the glorification thing, which I don't think it was. I can't remember specific details, but I do remember cringing while watching it. There were some great "talking heads" in it, but Peter Woodward was all about the lurid, Curtius would have been proud. But the sideburns on the actor were a nice touch, I agree.

I did have to look it to be sure it was the same one and I found this in a review at IMDB, a review that gave it 9 out of 10 stars..though judging by the mistake, a major one, I have to wonder if they even saw the same film I did, literally.

.
This documentary was released at about the same time as the ill-fated Alexander movie starring Brad Pitt. Using the phrase "The True Story.." may be a veiled reference to the apparently much less true story told in the feature film.
That made my morning in the humour department. Which, in my coffee deprived brain makes me long for a panel TV show, like the political ones on CNN (where they would yell at each other)... Lane Fox and Peter Green going at it over the table. "You sir, are an ignorant ass! and this is why..."
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athenas owl wrote:That made my morning in the humour department. Which, in my coffee deprived brain makes me long for a panel TV show, like the political ones on CNN (where they would yell at each other)... Lane Fox and Peter Green going at it over the table. "You sir, are an ignorant ass! and this is why..."
:lol: Oh yes. I would certainly watch a show with Alexander historians arguing like that.

Staying on topic now, I definitely agree that the vivid battle descriptions in the documentary would make Curtius proud. And the sideburns were the icing on the cake. What did you think of Colin Farrell's hair (which kept growing and growing...)in "Alexander"? Anything like the real Alexander?
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Post by athenas owl »

Vergina Sun wrote:
athenas owl wrote:That made my morning in the humour department. Which, in my coffee deprived brain makes me long for a panel TV show, like the political ones on CNN (where they would yell at each other)... Lane Fox and Peter Green going at it over the table. "You sir, are an ignorant ass! and this is why..."
:lol: Oh yes. I would certainly watch a show with Alexander historians arguing like that.

Staying on topic now, I definitely agree that the vivid battle descriptions in the documentary would make Curtius proud. And the sideburns were the icing on the cake. What did you think of Colin Farrell's hair (which kept growing and growing...)in "Alexander"? Anything like the real Alexander?
Well I wasn't saying he was like Curtius like it was a good thing...though I don't discount everything Curtius says, just try to filter it through his specific era and reason for writing it.

The hair in the film (not starring Brad Pitt :lol: ), I took it symbolically, the further away he got from home, the more " alien" his appearance. By the time he got to India, with the stress of the campaigns, he looked pretty bad. I didn't overthink the hair, it didn't bother me. It was a movie.

As I have said before, I take the figures from the Alexander sarcohpagus for colouring. It's closer in age than any of the Roman copies (a few decades at the most and if it was Abdalonymous who commissioned it, or even Mazaeus, they knew him personally and would remember what he looked like).

Maybe some of the coins that were near comtemprary and the Elephant medallion with him on one side (actually from his lifetime). I do think the boy had a big conk..er nose though if that an ideal of beauty then perhaps even that was exaggerated?. And was darker haired than some want to believe. The "idealised images" emerged so quickly after his death, I think his original appearance is lost to us forever...unless he is found and a reconstruction is done on the skull ( Venice? bows to Taphoi). We might all be in for a big suprise.

Then again the possibility that the Stag Hunt Mosaic at Pella is a representation of Alexander, though the Lion Hunt With Craterus is assumed to Alexander, and here again there is a consistent image of him stocky and not so tall.

The Alexander Mosaic reminds me of a young Al Pacino...not that that is a bad thing.
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Post by marcus »

Vergina Sun wrote:What did you think of Colin Farrell's hair (which kept growing and growing...)in "Alexander"? Anything like the real Alexander?
How do we know? :?

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Post by Vergina Sun »

marcus wrote:How do we know? :?
No, I don't think anyone knows what his hair really looked like, but was it based on any particular statue or bust of Alexander the Great?
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Post by Semiramis »

As someone else suggested, in the Stone movie, the further away Alexander goes from Macedonia the more "orientalized" he seems to get. The hair, together with the eye-liner and Persian/ Central Asian clothes and jewelery certainly suggest something like that. Add this to the observation that Hephaistion and Ptolemy head in the same "exotic" direction while Parmenion, Cassander, Cleitus etc always look just as Macedonian as ever. Nicely complements the Macedonia vs Asia arguments that Alexander has with these three characters. Perhaps I've overthought this one! :)

Oh and... I don't mind if Alexander is played by a blonde or a dark haired actor. We don't know for sure what he looked like and there are a lot more important things to focus in a performance than hair colour . I just couldn't understand the critics obsessing the Farrell's hair in the movie. Although, on a purely aesthetic level, I think Colin Farrell is a very attractive man with dark hair. The blonde didn't do it for met... :lol:
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Semiramis wrote:We don't know for sure what he looked like and there are a lot more important things to focus in a performance than hair colour . I just couldn't understand the critics obsessing the Farrell's hair in the movie. Although, on a purely aesthetic level, I think Colin Farrell is a very attractive man with dark hair. The blonde didn't do it for met... :lol:
Oddly enough, I couldn't agree more. There is more to a man (Alexander the Great or Colin Farrell) than just his appearance. It's just another aspect we could all sit and debate about. And I don't know - I kind of liked Colin better as a blonde. Just my opinion though :lol:
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note about lysippus copy to Athenais owl

Post by jan »

:D Sorry for getting back to this so late, but I had read that Alexander only trusted his sculptor to be Lysippus, and so that is why I believe that it is probably the one he would have accepted if the Roman copy is even close to the original.

The one thing that I am learning in studying all the various histories by different authors is that each author tends to paraphrase his own interpretations, omitting and adding whenever he chooses, so it could be the same with sculptors as well. Only the Japanese are really great copiers, and I don't know if the Romans were or not.

Actually, I like all the variations in many different versions, some flattering, so not so flattering.

Again, I find that in everyday appearances, we all change from time to time according to our moods and disposition, so it would have been the same for ATG. Those who loved him would paint him gloriously and those who hate him would have painted him notoriously ugly. So what the heck? Who can say?
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Post by Theseus »

Happily there are a lot of busts and statues left of Alexander and most have a likeness to one another. I know Lysippos was his sculptur of choice so he probably depicted Alexander pretty closely to what he really looked like. If you have time to compare the pictures online of all the existing statues of Alexander they do look similar for the most part. Some have him being built bigger and others skinnier. As Plutarch/Arrian describe him as fair skinned and light colored hair. Back then light brown could have been considered light. Yes it doesn't really matter what he looked like, but I'm glad there are things left behind for us to see what he may have looked like. A little less mysterious. :D
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Post by Alita »

The Issus Battle mosaic from Pompeii is thought to be the most faithful representation of Alexander. It shows the young commander with fair skin, light-brown, sunstreaked hair, a large, straight nose, a curling, angry lip and jutting chin. He is thought to have had large, deep-set eyes as well, although in the mosaic the size of the eyes is a little on the unrealistic side.
Last edited by Alita on Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Alita »

Vergina Sun wrote:
There's a History channel documentary on Alexander where the guy who plays Alexander looks eerily like the figure in the Pompeii Mosaic. I was highly impressed with the casting! Anyone else thought so?
Yes! I saw the History Channel's documentary, "The True Story of Alexander the Great". I was extremely impressed with it, and have to say it was one of the best Alexander the Great documentaries I've seen so far. The actor who played Alexander, Michael Cardelle, did resemble the Pompeii Mosaic Alexander. Finally, an Alexander actor who isn't blond! :D
I've just ordered it online. Can't wait to see it. :D

And yes, when Greeks say "xanthos" or "xanthe" (fair, m. and f.), we mean light-haired; this could be anything from blonde to brown. Usually we distinguish the colour by the colour of the eyebrows. If the eyebrows are light or thin, then even if the hair is brown, we will say "xanthos" (fair). Only if the eyebrows or the hair are black will we say "melaxrinos/e" (dark, brunette).

Btw, Semiramis, great name. You're not Assyrian by any chance are you?
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Post by Semiramis »

Alita wrote: I've just ordered it online. Can't wait to see it. Very Happy
Be sure to let us know what you think of it. :)
Alita wrote: And yes, when Greeks say "xanthos" or "xanthe" (fair, m. and f.), we mean light-haired; this could be anything from blonde to brown. Usually we distinguish the colour by the colour of the eyebrows. If the eyebrows are light or thin, then even if the hair is brown, we will say "xanthos" (fair). Only if the eyebrows or the hair are black will we say "melaxrinos/e" (dark, brunette).
Thanks for confirming that. I'd heard that before too...
Alita wrote: Btw, Semiramis, great name. You're not Assyrian by any chance are you?
Thanks for the compliment. :) No, not Assyrian. Maybe I ended up choosing this name (in a hurry) because Babylon has been on my mind a lot lately.;)
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Post by Theseus »

I've just ordered it online. Can't wait to see it. :D

And yes, when Greeks say "xanthos" or "xanthe" (fair, m. and f.), we mean light-haired; this could be anything from blonde to brown. Usually we distinguish the colour by the colour of the eyebrows. If the eyebrows are light or thin, then even if the hair is brown, we will say "xanthos" (fair). Only if the eyebrows or the hair are black will we say "melaxrinos/e" (dark, brunette).

Btw, Semiramis, great name. You're not Assyrian by any chance are you?[/quote]

Great information regarding what Greeks mean by xanthos or xanthe. I thought the mosaic was done well after Alexander's death? Does anyone know when that mosaic was done? I have a sterling silver pendant with the picture of Alexander and Bucephalus from that mosaic. I get so many compliments on it. It's one of my most treasured items. I was lucky enough to get it from a store in Greece. I love that mosaic wether it is accurate to what Alexander looked like or not.
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Post by Vergina Sun »

Theseus wrote:Great information regarding what Greeks mean by xanthos or xanthe. I thought the mosaic was done well after Alexander's death? Does anyone know when that mosaic was done? I have a sterling silver pendant with the picture of Alexander and Bucephalus from that mosaic. I get so many compliments on it. It's one of my most treasured items. I was lucky enough to get it from a store in Greece. I love that mosaic wether it is accurate to what Alexander looked like or not.
The mosaic is one of my favorite pieces of art too. The mosiac was made c. 200 BC, which is after Alexander's death. It's the only color picture we have of him that dates somewhat close to his life, so some may argue it's more accurate.

If I go to Greece, I'll keep my eyes open for Alexander the Great-related pendants too. I've always wanted one to show off. :D
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