Alexander cuts the Gordian knot. A.M. 3671. card

Alexander cuts the Gordian knot. A.M. 3671.

WAG 7717

Currently not on display


This is one of a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. When Alexander the Great marched through the city of Gordium, he was shown the chariot of the city's ancient founder, Gordius. The chariot was tied to a pole with an intricate knot with hidden ends. According to myth, this knot was to be untied by the future conqueror of Asia. Rather than finding the ends of the knot and untangling the rope, it is said that Alexander simply cut through it with his sword. To 'cut the Gordian knot' is now a phrase that means to find a bold, simple solution to a convoluted problem.