Alexandra by Lycophron-A Review


Alexandra by Lycophron-A Review

Alexandra by Lycophron-A Review

Alexandra by Lycophron-A Review

“Alexandra” by Lycophron (“Alexandra,” often referred to as “Alexandriad,”) is a Greek poem that belongs to the genre of Hellenistic poetry. It was written by Lycophron, a poet from Chalcis in the 3rd century BCE. The poem is known for its complex structure, intricate language, and its focus on mythological themes.


“Alexandra” is a dramatic monologue delivered by the mythological figure Cassandra, a prophetess cursed to never be believed. The poem is composed of 1,415 lines and is divided into four books. Each book consists of stanzas known as “stichoi,” each containing lines of varying lengths. The structure can be quite challenging to follow due to its fragmented and non-linear nature, which reflects the confused and disjointed thoughts of Cassandra.


The central theme of “Alexandra” revolves around prophecy, fate, and the inevitability of Troy’s downfall. Cassandra, the speaker, prophesies a series of events leading up to the Trojan War, the fall of Troy, and the fates of various characters. The poem is full of allusions to Greek mythology, featuring many figures from the Trojan War and other mythological tales.

Language and Style:

Lycophron’s language is highly elaborate and characterized by intricate wordplay, metaphors, and obscure references. The poem is considered one of the most difficult works of Greek literature due to its extensive use of rare vocabulary, obscure references, and complex syntax. This complexity can make it challenging for modern readers to decipher the poem’s meaning without a deep knowledge of Greek mythology and language.

Narrative Technique:

The narrative technique in “Alexandra” is unique and distinctive. Cassandra speaks in the first person, recounting her prophetic visions and the doomed fate of Troy. However, her speech is highly disjointed and often fragmented, reflecting her cursed state of never being believed. This technique adds to the eerie and foreboding atmosphere of the poem.

Historical and Cultural Significance:

“Alexandra” is one of the few surviving examples of Hellenistic poetry. It showcases the intellectual and artistic tendencies of the Hellenistic period, characterized by a fascination with complex wordplay, literary puzzles, and erudite references. The poem’s themes and content also provide insights into the ancient Greek perception of fate, divination, and the role of women in myth and society.

Reception and Interpretation:

“Alexandra” has garnered mixed reactions throughout history. Some scholars admire its intricate wordplay and the challenge it presents to readers, while others find its complexity overwhelming. Due to its fragmented nature, the poem has been subject to a wide range of interpretations, focusing on Cassandra’s tragic fate, the inevitability of prophecy, and the depiction of women in ancient literature.

In conclusion, “Alexandra” by Lycophron is a highly complex and enigmatic work of Hellenistic poetry. It offers a glimpse into the intellectual and artistic tendencies of its time, while also presenting a challenging puzzle for readers due to its intricate language, fragmented structure, and mythological references. The poem’s focus on prophecy, fate, and the tragic downfall of Troy provides insights into ancient Greek cultural and mythological perspectives. 0 0 0.

Alexandra by Lycophron-A Review

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N.B. The article ‘—‘ originally belongs to the book entitled ‘The Reviews of Epic Literature Around the World Vol-II‘ by Menonim Menonimus.

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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.


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