Islamic Legends Concerning Alexander the Great
Taken from Two Medieval Arabic Manuscripts in Madrid
English translation and introductory study of a previously unedited Hispano-Arabic legend of Alexander the Great.
Islamic Legends Concerning Alexander the Great is a critical edition with English translation and introductory study of Qissat Dhulqarnayn, a previously unedited Hispano-Arabic legend of Alexander the Great found in two manuscripts in Madrid. While the work that has come down through the literature is preserved in this Hispano-Arabic text, the legend no doubt has an Eastern Arabic origin dating back to the eighth or ninth century, C. E. The primary transmitters cited in the manuscripts are Ka'b al-Ahbar, Ibn 'Abbas, Muqatil b. Sulayman, and the lesser known 'Abd al-Malik al-Mashuni and 'Abd al-Malik b. Zayd. The content of this work, stemming from the Arabic genre of the stories of the prophets, relates several of the episodes found universally in Alexander romances such as Alexander's confrontation with Darius, King of Persia, and his wild adventures in the Indian hinterlands. Additionally, the text offers many episodes that have been developed and introduced into Alexander's story from Arab-Islamic oral literature of Arabia and Mesopotamia, as well as perhaps North Africa. Such are his expeditions to the peoples of the rising and setting sun, his construction of the barrier of Gog and Magog, as well as his many conversations with lost tribes descending from the children of Noah, each of whom he manages to aid in their eternal fight against their enemies, be these birds of prey, serpents, or neighboring barbarians.