The influence of Achaemenid royal ideology and court practice on Alexander the Great

  • Laura Maree Conroy

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


Although the majority of recent scholarship on Alexander the Great agrees that he adopted Achaemenid practice, the nature and extent of this influence is disputed. This thesis therefore offers an original, comprehensive evaluation of the influence of Achaemenid royal ideology and court practice on Alexander. Through the comparison of the traditional Greco-Roman literary tradition with contemporary Persian and Near-Eastern sources (in particular cuneiform inscriptions), this study seeks 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 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—are explored. This thesis also demonstrates how Alexander fits into a wider narrative of Persian decadence and degeneration stereotypical of the Greek literary tradition. Ultimately, this thesis concludes that Alexander consciously and actively adopted elements of Achaemenid royal ideology and court practice to augment power gained through conquest of Persia and the Near East. This does not mean that he sought to be an Achaemenid King in his own right; rather, he recognised the centrality of this ideology to local populations accepting his authority and the legitimacy of his rule.
Date of Award1 Jul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorThomas Harrison (Supervisor)


  • Alexander the Great
  • Achaemenid
  • Ideology
  • Court practice
  • Hellenistic
  • Macedonian

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 11th December 2025

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