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closed Alexander the Great and the East

The show

The great exhibition is dedicated to the extraordinary figure of Alexander (356 - 323 BC), the Macedonian hero who in just over ten years, accompanied by his faithful companions, became king of Asia and Europe. As a man and as a philosopher, a pupil of the great Aristotle, he loved both continents, promoting, after the conquest, peace and the union of the peoples subject to him. The exhibition is divided into 2 spaces: the Monumental atrium located on the ground floor and the Salone della Meridiana on the second floor, with thematic references in the three historic gardens. About 170 works from every corner of the world are exhibited: from ancient Persia to Gandhara. To these marvels of the past are added the numerous finds from the permanent collection of the MANN, the only museum in which three portraits of the Macedonian are kept and among these the most precious, the Mosaic of the battle of Issus, where you can admire the hero riding Bucephalus, while he attacks Darius on the high chariot. This work, currently under restoration, is replaced by the reproduction placed on the carpet in the Meridiana hall, in the area where the environment of the house of the Faun is reconstructed. On display, one is greeted by the representations of the Macedonian strategist on busts, including the herm-bust from the Louvre Museum, copy from an original by Lysippus. You then enter the secret rooms where the fate of the king of the world is announced by a prophetess with a magical shield to her mother Olympias and her father Philip II.

We are greeted by an enigmatic winged genius (preserved in the Louvre), a Cabiro who offers the famous Armonia necklace to the future bride. The peristyle and main hall of the famous Villa of Fannius Synistor in Boscoreale, one of the greatest enigmas in the history of art, are entirely reconstructed and explained for the first time. In the Meridiana hall, the introduction is completed by further and rare artifacts, which tell the story of Macedonians and Persians, including the extraordinary Vase of the Persians, dating back to the second half of the fourth century. BC, where the eternal conflict is represented, sung by Homer and then by Herodotus, between Europe and Asia, between Greece and Persia. The exhibition continues with Alexander's journeys of conquest and discovery, and with the story of the triumphal battles of annexation. In these spaces the group of marble equestrian statues is recomposed, coming from the sanctuary of Giunone Sospita in Lanuvio, conserved in part in the British Museum, in part in Lanuvio. A fundamental testimony for the reconstruction of the famous donary of Alexander, created by Lisippo and intended to celebrate the twenty-five companions who died at the battle of Granico. The admiration of Alexander by the Egyptian priests and his subsequent deification is instead remembered by the Egyptian stele from the temple of Isis in Pompeii which contains hieroglyphic references to Macedonian exploits.

Also exhibited are finds that recall the most faithful collaborators of Alexander the Great. Like Seleucus, bodyguard always at Alexander's side in battle, depicted in a bronze bust from the Villa dei Papyri. During his long journey to the East (334-323 BC) Alexander founded many cities, universally admired for the grandeur of the scheme and the refined urban planning technique. These include Alexandria in Egypt, Alexandria Eschate, formerly Leninabad, Bucephala in Pakistan. A few centuries later, in the Indo-Greek kingdoms an unprecedented and lasting fusion of uses, customs and religions was reached. One example among many on display: the statue of Buddha, coming from Pakistan and dating back to the II-III century. AD, dressed in a robe and with a composed smile that some believe borrowed from the divine Apollo. The extent of the phenomenon of reciprocal influences lasted several centuries, and laid the foundations for a solid relationship between Rome and the East. The traces can be found in the classic figures of Heracles with a club, of a kneeling Atlas, of winged Erotes and of Ionic capitals carved in stone. The great ancient civilizations of the East, in turn, were incorporated and assimilated by the Greco-Latin civilization. In Pompeii in the last century a small and splendid statuette of an Indian ivory divinity was found. Asia was fertilized by the Hellenistic culture.

Alexander fell under the spell of the East, married the Uzbek Roxane and set up his capital in Babylon. In Europe his memory was even more vivid. Pompey, Caesar, Augustus were inspired by him, they imitated him, they copied his ways and his solutions, they took possession of the monuments and statues dedicated to him. We see him in splendid groups of statues, depicted as Achilles who died in the arms of Ajax or as the Homeric hero himself, representative of Europe, who is moved before the dying Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons and an allegory of conquered Persia. The colossal objects and wonders were also his legacy to the West and among these two splendid examples on display are illustrated with incomparable objects: the Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria. The exhibition "Alexander the Great and the Orient" is organized from the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, directed by Paolo Giulierini, in collaboration with Electa. Curators are Filippo Coarelli and Eugenio Lo Sardo. Promoted by the Italian Ministry of Culture, with the support of the Campania Region, the Colosseum Archaeological Park and Intesa Sanpaolo, the exhibition benefits from the collaboration of the Museum of Civilizations of Rome and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport.


Timetable and tickets


Piazza Museo n.18/19
80135 Naples


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