Itinerarium Alexandri, testo, apparato critico, introduzione, traduzione e commento a cura di Raffaella Tabacco, Firenze 2000.
Angelo Mai discovered the text of the Itinerarium Alexandri at the beginning of the XIXth century in an early Medieval manuscript kept at the Ambrosian Library in Milan. Mai published the editio princeps of this work in 1817. In the XVIIIth century, Muratori had published a very defective transcription of a few paragraphs from the Itinerarium, taken from an unspecified manuscript. The text, by an unknown author, is a summary biography of Alexander, from his birth to his death in Babylon, giving special attention to his Persian campaign. The work was written in 340 AD, and is dedicated to the emperor Constantius II, who was at that time fighting against the Persians. The text is meant as a guide, a good omen and a tutoring for Constatius’s campaign. The title does not do full justice to the content of the work. The author chose it out of modesty, as he himself states in the long proem (paragraph 3: Itinerarium ... pro breuiario superscripsi castigans operis eius etiam nomine facultatem). It is not a travel guide but a breuiarium, reworking and summarising the Anabasis of Alexander by the Greek historian Arrian, even if it does not mention explicitly its main source. In the proem, the author states that he based his narration on the most trustworthy authors. Arrian is certainly one of them, but the Itinerarium is occasionally following other less historically accurate sources, which allow the author to stray in the direction of the vulgata and the tradition of the Alexander Romance.
Some episodes in the Itinerarium are clearly related to similar ones in the Res gestae Alexandri Macedonis by Julius Valerius, which is in its turn a Latin translation of the Greek Alexander Romance and is transmitted in the same Ambrosian manuscript as the Itinerarium. Some scholars have suggested that Julius Valerius may be the author of the Itinerarium as well, but this thesis does not rest on solid grounds. Most scholars, including the author of the text you are reading, think that the Latin translation of the Greek Alexander Romance is among the sources of the Itinerarium. Lately, Jean-Pierre Callu (2010) has suggested reversing the direction of the literary debt, arguing that it was Julius Valerius who imitated the Itinerarium.
The final section of the work is missing because of physical damage suffered by the Ambrosian manuscript. The ending must have included the last events in the life of Alexander and (according to the proem, paragraph 1: itinerarium principum eodem opere gloriosorum, Alexandri scilicet Magni Traianique) the compendium of the other great victorious campaign that could be compared to Alexander’s, the Roman campaign conducted by Trajan. The narrative may have been based on the History of the War against the Parthians by Arrian.
The language of the Itinerarium is of special interest as a testimony of the character of late-antique Latin. Its interpretation is however often difficult. Sentences are long and convoluted, employing frequent participial constructions and several passages are corrupt in the manuscript. [R. Tabacco; tr. di L. Battezzato]