Creative anachronism II

In recent days at work I have been very busy occupied with scanning Alexandrine tetradrachms, the heavy silver coins issued in the states that Alexander the Great left behind him. We are cataloguing these, but the scanning is being done fast and ahead of time because of the need of another, very exciting but also secretive, project that we’re involved in for images of a large number of similar coins. Since they all carry Alex’s head right on the obverse and Zeus seated left on the reverse, they were the best candidate, and we do have an awful lot.

Alexander’s successes, despite his youth and junior status in his family, have caused a lot of people to wonder just what it was that he had going for him, and I’m honoured to be able to say that I think, having scanned all these coins, I begin to understand. Check this out:

CM.G.16-R, tetradrachm of Alexander the Great from Macedonia, obverse, copyright Fitzwilliam Museum

Now come on. That’s not just an Emperor; that’s the King! Look at that and tell me you don’t see Elvis. That lip-curl tells us all we need to know: Alexander the Great was in fact clearly the being known as Elvis Aaron Presley, masquerading.

Now you might think me mad, but I’m not the first person to suggest that Elvis became a time-travelling agent of historical meddlement. No indeed. Robert Rankin’s been suggesting this for years. I’m just finally providing the evidence here…

P. S. Note the piercing at the left. Note how it is, relative to the head, about the size of a sprout. Makes you think, doesn’t it…

Edit: subsequently cataloguing these things (this is Fitzwilliam Museum, CM.G.12-R, since you ask) has made it clear that despite what I originally assumed, the head is not supposed to be Alexander, or at least it didn’t start that way; it’s supposed to be Heracles, but people have argued that variations in the design are intended to make a Heracles out of Alexander’s genuine features. I think this one doesn’t look so unlike the famous mosaic of him fighting Darius, but the problem is that since that’s first-century B. C., it was probably modelled on the coins… I don’t really mind if it’s not Alexander, anyway. So Elvis was actually Hercules: how does that weaken my case exactly, you know?

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11 responses to “Creative anachronism II

  1. I believe you may have finally snapped…

  2. I’m lecturing on the Hellenistic Kingdoms this afternoon; I’m tempted to bring this up.

  3. As long as you credit the image to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, that would be fine :-)

  4. Ok, I don’t get the sprout bit… local joke?

    The hole just makes me think that if it were strung on a necklace ‘ole Alexander would be looking down by shirt…

  5. Ole Alex? Young Alex, that lad on the coin is not long out of his teens, and you know what they’re like.

    The sprout thing, you’d rather have to have read the earliest Robert Rankin books to get. I suspect that he is probably only a British phenomenon. I’ve no idea whether his humour would appeal anywhere else, in fact.

  6. JJ —

    I don’t know how to do alt-text. Would including a copyright notice in the post be OK?

  7. Yay for time-travelling Elvis! If you read Steve Martin’s play ‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile,’ he turns up in Paris in 1900 as well!

    I can just imagine this dude singin’ ‘Blue Suede Sandals.’

  8. And what does Martin Allen think of all this? I think the coins and medals dept needs a restorative trip to the pub…

  9. Prof. Muhlberger, saving me trying to explain how to edit image tags in HTML, yes, a notice on the post would be fine. Thankyou.

    And gesta, Dr Allen is as yet unaware of the storm breaking behind him. I haven’t yet mustered the courage to try and explain the blogosphere. However, you are entirely right that the Dept. should spend more time in the pub. If not all of us, at least some. Perhaps a token representative. I nominate me! (That was easy.)

  10. Interesting observation. It’s a little-known fact that Alexander the Great was a good singer & a skilled musician. Elvis, in a memoir, has been called “great”. And he is also called the ‘King’… Alexander was also “great” and a king. There is a bust of Alexander that is a dead ringer for Elvis. Both men started on their paths to glory at the age of 20, both were very close to their mothers and both have become the gold standard in their respective fields: Alexander for warfare, and Elvis for music. Finally, it’s amazing that both are listed in the world’s top 5 most expensive funerals of all time.

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