Laura Conroy recently defended her PhD thesis on “The Influence of Achaemenid Royal Ideology and Court Practice on Alexander the Great” with great success.
Laura’s thesis is the first systematic investigation of the question of Achaemenid influence on Alexander the Great. Through the comparison of the traditional Greco-Roman literary tradition with contemporary Persian and Near-Eastern sources, in particular cuneiform inscriptions, she sought to better understand the nature of, and reasons for, Alexander’s gradual shift towards Persian culture. To this end, parallels between Alexander’s behaviours and key elements of Achaemenid royal ideology – including the emulation of earlier Kings, divine bestowal of kingship, emphasis on truth and the Lie, relationships with nature, the centrality of reward and punishment to court culture, and attempts at integration and unity through marriage and banqueting – were explored. In addition to adopting a fundamentally original approach, her research offers innovative insights into the Near-Eastern background of specific episodes of the Alexander story, in particular the voyage on the Indus river, the ‘mirroring’ of Achaemenid genealogy by Alexander, and the punishment of Bessus. Her research contributes to our understanding of Alexander’s performative kingship and the ways by which he augmented power gained through conquest of Persia and the Near East.