“The encounter of Alexander the Great with the Indian Brahmans or Oxydorkai/Oxydracae forms an important episode of the Alexander Romance1 as well as featuring in all the extant Alexander historians.2 The purpose of this paper is to consider how far the various accounts reflect genuine knowledge of India in the sources in which they are based,3 and to what extent the episode in the Alexander Romane diverges thes orm adds to and to what purpose. A future paper will consider the development of the episode in later works, Geneva Papyrus inv. 271 and Palladius De gentibus Indiae et Bragmanibus, as well as the Collatio Alexandri et Dindimi.
The episode in the Romance brings out explicitly several of the main themes of the work, including Alexander’s desire for immortality and world dominion, as well as his submission to the divine order. His claim in his reply to the Brahmans that he goes on conquering because ‘the master of my soul’ will not allow him to stop encapsulates the moral r conundrum nnr that the authors of the Romance works on Alexander were trying to encompass: how could the great hero, the world conqueror, also and simultaneously be a sage with a line to God, and a mortal subject to death like anyone else? What were the limits of his power? …”