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The Beacon at Alexandria Summary
Gillian Bradshaw

Everything you need to understand or teach The Beacon at Alexandria by Gillian Bradshaw.

  • The Beacon at Alexandria Summary & Study Guide

The Beacon at Alexandria Summary

The Beacon at Alexandria is rich in its thematic import for the contemporary reader. Bradshaw presents the extraordinarily complex Hellenistic world in carefully researched detail and reveals surprising parallels with modern society. One of the striking similarities is the multiracial character of society. The protagonist, Charis, is born at Ephesus but leaves home for Alexandria, the intellectual center of the time. Interested in studying medicine, she becomes apprenticed to a prominent Jewish physician. Bradshaw uses her experiences to explore the coexistence of the Jewish and Christian communities. Later in the novel, Charis journeys to Thrace, where she encounters the Visigoths, whose barbaric reputation among the Romans turns out to be somewhat exaggerated.

Religious factionalism is another important social concern in The Beacon at Alexandria. Charis becomes involved in the politics of the Christian church.

She becomes the personal physician of the aging Archbishop Athanasios, whose eventual...

(read more from the Short Guide)

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