Ruhm, Ide(ologi)e, Macht

Robert Rossens Deutungen Alexanders des Großen


  • Nils Steffensen Europa-Universität Flensburg



Alexander the Great, Robert Rossen, Cold War, Hellenism, HUAC


The first Hollywood film adaptation of Alexander the Great is Robert Rossen’s 1956 movie. Classicists have primarily been concerned with errors of historicity, Alexander’s assumed tragic traits, and rather associative conclusions concerning the movie’s political implications.

This paper raises the question of Rossen’s depiction of Alexander's motives and aims. His assessment of the king is surprisingly complicated. Therefore, for the first time, Rossen's interview comments on Alexander are analysed comprehensively and systematically. Furthermore, it is shown that neglected sources are central to the plot. Finally, the film is interpreted against the backdrop of Rossen’s oeuvre.

It can be demonstrated that Rossen’s issue is the problem of ideology. He seeks a redefinition of glory. Military success is only an excuse for the pursuit of mere power. For Rossen, however, the true fame is nothing but the benefit of the people. It took a long time for Alexander to realize that his rule was inane, and to reshape his policy. This interpretation is due to fundamental convictions reflected in Rossen’s oeuvre as well as to his personal experiences in politics. It is a plea for de-ideologization in times of the Cold War.