Banquet scenes are often described in Plutarch’s Lives. In the Life of Alexander, Plutarch defines
the exemplary profile of the Macedonian king in his relations with others – his companions
and friends and his defeated enemies. The social institution of symposium, so deeply rooted
in the Greek tradition, is used as an instrument to highlight certain aspects of Alexander’s
“Greekness”, either to contrast them with the customs of the barbarians, or, alternatively, to
confirm that the conqueror fully adopted barbarian ways.
In spite of the fact that Alexander behaves immoderately at banquets, Plutarch neither criticizes
him openly nor censures him; the behaviour should not be taken as belonging to Alexander’s
ἦθος, but to the changes that he introduces in the Greek tradition itself.