Alexander the Great and Don Quixote

The epic literature captivated Alexander the Great, who in turn became a legend. The chivalric literature captivated Don Quixote, who also looked to the ancients as a knight, to imitate them, and as a humanist, to extract lessons from their deeds and sayings. In Don Quixote the role played by Alexander, the most cited old character in the novel, as a model to imitate is fundamental to understanding Don Quixote.

There is, therefore, a deep affinity between Alexander and Don Quixote, since for both of them literature is life, there being no clear frontier between fiction and reality for them. Both live intensely the epic: they look at the heroes as models of behavior and turn their lives into an imitatio of such characters. In history Alexander succeeded in his conquests; In the novel Don Quixote failed as a gentleman.

Alexander deeply respected the memory of the ancient poets, imitated concrete actions of the heroes, infected his soldiers with the suggestion of the mythological, and suffered from a certain grandiose delusions, facilitated by the beliefs of the time. All these characteristics to a greater or lesser extent are found in Don Quixote. Alexander’s love for the epic was well known, a quality that also echoes Don Quixote. The neighbor priest of the hidalgo, who stars in the episode of the scrutiny of the library, mentions the chest that Alexander the Great found in the booty obtained after his victory in Iso against Darius, king of the Persians, in 333 BC. C., where he kept his copy of the Iliad. Thus, by preserving the fire Palmerín of England, the priest remembers the general’s appreciation of the works of Homer.

The inspiration in Greco-Roman antiquity is an essential part of humanism, and Don Quixote participates in it, to which he adds his passion for the novels of chivalry. What is distinctive in him and condition of his madness is the desire for literal mimesis, and the voluntarismode identify and even overcome any epic character.
The knight aspires to surpass all the well-known exploits, also those of Alexander, that integrated the group of the nine of the Fame; epic imaginary that is present from the first chapter, and impregnates even his perception of his horse Rocinante. Sancho, his faithful squire, has captured the worries of his master and in the last chapter of the first part states that Don Quixote, whom he assumed dead, surpasses «all the Alexanders»



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