The main texts under consideration in this article are two French-language Alexander romances written in the second half of the twelfth century, discussed in relation to the Latin historical, romance, and naturalist traditions that form the backbone of the medieval tradition of Alexander the Great in medieval Europe, and in particular in relation to the literary tradition that starts with Pseudo-Callisthenes’s Greek Romance of Alexander. The aim is to show how Alexander was used not simply as an icon of secular or military power but also as an important figure for understanding the relationship between the imagination, technological invention, and discovery of new knowledge, which necessarily entails questions of prestige and power. Alexander’s ingenuity, which manifests both as verbal trickery and in the invention of new machines, is shown to be fundamental for a certain model of knowledge-acquisition that sees natural truths as hidden and in need of tools to be extracted. This ingenuity is shown, also, to be closely connected to the inventions of writers of romance, and the article suggests the specific importance of the Alexander material in the history of medieval romance literature.

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