Authors Name: 
Benjamin Hamer
University: 
Durham University
Category: 
Classical Studies & Archaeology
Highly commended

Why did Alexander matter, in the nineteenth century? Discuss with reference to two or more case-studies.

This essay sought to look at Alexander the Great's place in British India in the nineteenth century, focussing on two individuals: Josiah Harlan and Mountstuart Elphinstone. Harlan negotiated the space between being an all-American hero and a 'second Alexander' – while the intelligencia in America saw Alexander as the very antithesis of the American ideal. Fighting at the frontier of British India and into Afghanistan, he shows how Alexander deeply mattered to individuals, and not just those seeking to forge an Empire for their country. Elphinstone, equally, was pushed by a different set of pressures as he saw the expansion of British power and commerce in India, and the explosion of Imperial ideologies. This essay examines original archival research and journals, particularly of Elphinstone, and seeks to look, through two contrasting individuals, into the heart of why Alexander mattered to Victorians on the frontiers of Empire.