Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions

Synopsis

"Frank Holt probably knows more than anyone alive about the mysterious Greek kingdoms in Bactria and on the frontiers of India that were one of the odder legacies of Alexander's Eastern conquests. The literary evidence is sparse, the coins remain ambiguous, the topography defeats all but the toughest. Holt's forays into this world are those of a clever and persistent detective: he loves cracking problems, and the tougher they are, the better. This time--very properly beginning by invoking the name of Sherlock Holmes--he has given us what Conan Doyle would probably have called 'The Adventure of the Elephant Medallions.' Debate has raged over the scene these portray ever since the first was discovered. A cavalryman with a lance confronts an opponent on an elephant. Who are they? What is the occasion? Guesses have ranged from Alexander to the Greco-Bactrian monarch Eucratides, from Porus at the Jhelum to Darius at Gaugamela. Using his numismatic and historical skills like a Holmesian magnifying-glass, Holt takes us through the theories, deftly explodes the fallacies, and comes up with a (for me) entirely cogent and satisfying solution. He has also, somewhere along the way, acquired a really marvelous prose style. Not only is the problem in itself a page-turner; Holt also throws in, by way of introduction, the best short impressionistic account of Alexander's career I have ever read. This is high scholarship at its most exciting."--Peter Green, author of "Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B. C.: A Historical Biography

"[This book] brings to a wider audience one of the few contemporary pieces of evidence for the image and ideology of Alexander the Great. While relatively well known to expertsin the field, the 'elephant medallions' of the title are far less well understood, and have thus played a smaller part, in popular accounts of Alexander than they

probably should. Holt's book offers a well thought out int

Additional information

Contributors:
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Berkeley, CA
Publication year:
  • 2003