Stolen legacy 1: theft in Alexandria

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

Abstract

The present contribution, the first panel of a diptych, discusses a claim put forward by George G.M. James, in his book Stolen Legacy (1954). According to James, the Macedonian king Alexander III in association with the philosopher Aristotle plundered the Royal Library at Alexandria – a crucial episode in what Afrocentric thinkers consider the theft of African philosophy by the Greeks. The article presents and analyses the evidence for the founding of Alexandria, for Aristotle’s whereabouts during Alexander’s conquest of the Persian empire, and for the establishment of the Alexandrian library. James’ contention turns out to be unsupported by any evidence. In addition, it is at odds with the results of historical research into events of the late fourth and early third century BCE relevant to the matter at hand. The alleged theft must have taken place in a city not yet founded, by a philosopher with an alibi, and in an institution that would not be established until at least a quarter of a century after the death of the Macedonian conqueror. Afrocentric responses to such criticisms will be discussed in a sequel to this contribution, published elsewhere in this issue of Lampas.
Translated title of the contributionStolen legacy 1: theft in Alexandria
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)123-140
Number of pages18
JournalLampas
Volume50
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017

Cite this

Flinterman, J.J. / Gestolen erfenis 1: diefstal in Alexandrië.

In: Lampas, Vol. 50, No. 2, 2017, p. 123-140.

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

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Gestolen erfenis 1: diefstal in Alexandrië. / Flinterman, J.J.

In: Lampas, Vol. 50, No. 2, 2017, p. 123-140.

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

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AB - The present contribution, the first panel of a diptych, discusses a claim put forward by George G.M. James, in his book Stolen Legacy (1954). According to James, the Macedonian king Alexander III in association with the philosopher Aristotle plundered the Royal Library at Alexandria – a crucial episode in what Afrocentric thinkers consider the theft of African philosophy by the Greeks. The article presents and analyses the evidence for the founding of Alexandria, for Aristotle’s whereabouts during Alexander’s conquest of the Persian empire, and for the establishment of the Alexandrian library. James’ contention turns out to be unsupported by any evidence. In addition, it is at odds with the results of historical research into events of the late fourth and early third century BCE relevant to the matter at hand. The alleged theft must have taken place in a city not yet founded, by a philosopher with an alibi, and in an institution that would not be established until at least a quarter of a century after the death of the Macedonian conqueror. Afrocentric responses to such criticisms will be discussed in a sequel to this contribution, published elsewhere in this issue of Lampas.

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