Was Alexander the Great blonde?

Alexander the Great

In the Netflix docu-drama, Alexander: Making of a God, Buck Braithwaite (Alexander) is given short blonde hair.

We do not know with any certainty what colour hair Alexander had. In the House of the Faun mosaic it is dark brown with light streaks. The mosaic is said to be based on a Greek original.

House of the Faun mosaic
House of the Faun mosaic

That may be so but in it Alexander looks very Roman. If his head can be Romanised maybe his hair can be too.

What about the Pella lion mosaic? The artist here seems to have produced an image that prioritises symbolism over reality: note how both Alexander and Craterus have the same brown hair as the lion.

Alexander the Great
The Pella lion mosaic.

In my view, Netflix have followed the lead of both the Faun and Pella artists. In Western culture, blonde is regarded as a beautiful (hair) colour. It is the hair colour of the good guys. Alexander is a hero in this docu-drama therefore he is blonde.

What about the length of Buck Braithwaite’s hair? It does not reflect Alexander’s famously leonine hair. Quite the opposite.

Making of a God is a series for people who know nothing about Alexander. Everything in and about it, therefore, is designed to make them watch: if the truth, so far as we know it, does not conform to this, it gets dropped. I think Netflix dropped Alexander’s leonine hair because they thought more people would watch the series if their Alexander confirmed to a more generic C21st heroic image.

That creates a discordancy for us who know about his life because the only time Alexander had short hair was not when he was a prince, not when he entered Babylon, and not when he found Darius but rather after Hephaestion died and the Macedonian king followed the Homeric (and Persian, it seems) tradition of cutting his hair in mourning.

Taken from Alexander the Great Facebook page.

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This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor

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