Fred S. Naiden
Soldier, Priest, and God
A Life of Alexander the Great
Oxford University Press 2018
New Books in BiographyNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Military HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network February 8, 2019 Mark Klobas
The Macedonian king Alexander III is best remembered today for his many martial accomplishments and the empire he built from them. Yet as Fred S. Naiden details in Soldier, Priest, and God: A Life of Alexander the Great (Oxford University Press, 2018), this ignores what for his subjects were his even more important responsibilities as a religious figure. Alexander’s religious practices were a vital part of his legitimacy as a ruler of his people, and were interwoven into his daily activities. As his armies advanced into southwestern Asia, Alexander insinuated himself into the religions of the lands he conquered, which aided the acceptance of his rule. This became increasingly difficult the further east he marched, however, as the religious systems he encountered there often contained obligations often at variance from the traditions which he had accepted. As Naiden describes, Alexander’s increasing disregard for the religions he encountered contributed to the difficulties he faced with his later campaigns, fueling both local resistance and rebellions by his own men.