The talk will be held in German.
Action Portrait and Image of the Ruler. The Heroization of the Deed in the Portraits of Alexander the Great
The paper treats a specific ancient form of visual representation of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), who was remembered as a model instance of the ancient ruler until long after the Roman empire, though his image was remodeled again and again. The theme is ‘action portraits’ of Alexander, which showed him not static but in action, accomplishing certain actions or deeds. The action may relate to a further figure who appears in the image, for example in battle, or even as one part of a multi-figured action-group or -scene (so-called narrative action portraits). However, it is an essential characteristic of such portraits that they show historical figures as they accomplish an action, and so they concretize qualities as achievements – whereas static portraits primarily referred to qualities.
The paper, which shall present for discussion the research project pursued at the Morphomata Center of Advanced Studies, will give an overview of the action portraits of Alexander. One thesis is that, through the selection of themes in the images, through visual formulae, and through the media of visual communication, in action portraits it was above all heroic deeds that were communicated; these were ascribed to Alexander in a similar way to how they were ascribed to mythological heroes. In this they played an essential part in communicating the hero-like extraordinariness of the ruler and, to that extent, complemented the static ruler-portraits. Also to be investigated is whether Alexander’s action portraits should be understood as exemplary representations, how they changed and in what specific ways did they set the ruler in relation to his history and to heroes of myth.
Respondenz: Peter Franz Mittag (Cologne)