Who was (reputed to be) Alexander The Great's real father?

Who was (reputed to be) Alexander The Great's real father?

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Macedonian rumor had it that Alexander was not the son of Philip II. This rumor was based on the main ground that Philip II had several official wives a fact which infuriated Olympias, Alexander's mother. Another cause is that Philip II's many sons wanted to inherit the title of King of Macedonia. He was also rumored not to look like his father.

In a classical way forward, Alexander or his admirers later spread the rumor that indeed with such victories, his real father had to be someone with a magic or divine profile. The real father identity was then rumored to be an exiled Pharaoh of Egypt who had indeed found refuge and protection by Philip II in Macedonia. This pharaoh is represented in middle-ages paintings as a half dragon. What was his name and how did he come to be believed to have magical powers?

Sources: Plutarch / Alexander. E.g., describing the feud at Philip's wedding:

At the wedding of Cleopatra, whom Philip fell in love with and married, she being much too young for him, her uncle Attalus in his drink desired the Macedonians would implore the gods to give them a lawful successor to the kingdom by his niece. This so irritated Alexander, that throwing one of the cups at his head, "You villain," said he, "what, am I then a bastard?"

Note: I am not considering the question of whether such a Pharaoh existed. Of interest is the story itself. Interesting enough that it inspired artists and philosophers. (Source: Peter Sloterdijk in 'Die schrecklichen Kinder der Neuzeit' - not translated in english yet.)

The source of this line of rumors seems to be the Alexander romance

The Romance of Alexander is any of several collections of legends concerning the mythical exploits of Alexander the Great. The earliest version is in the Greek language, dating to the 3rd century.

The Pharoah discussed as the possible deadbeat dad would be Nectanebo:

The Persians occupied Memphis and then seized the rest of Egypt, incorporating the country into the Achaemenid Empire. Nectanebo fled south and preserved his power for some time; his subsequent fate is unknown.

Of course everyone wanted to claim a piece of the credit and lay claim to the real parenthood of Alexander:

Soon after Alexander the Great's godhood was confirmed by the Libyan Sibyl of Zeus Ammon at the Siwa Oasis, a rumor was begun that Nectanebo II, following defeat in his last battle, did not travel to Nubia but instead to the court of Philip II of Macedon in the guise of an Egyptian magician.

Since the other contender was Zeus himself:

Plutarch offered a variety of interpretations of these dreams: that Olympias was pregnant before her marriage, indicated by the sealing of her womb; or that Alexander's father was Zeus.

And of course this exiled Pharaoh Nectanebo of course must have been a great magician to seduce Olympias:

while Philip was away on campaign, Nectanebo convinced Philip's wife Olympias that Amun was to come to her and that they would father a son. Nectanebo, disguising himself as Amun, slept with Olympias and from his issue came Alexander.

Of course, having controversy about your linage never hurts when you want to rule the world:

Such legends may have emerged when Alexander was king, and possibly at his own instigation, to show that he was superhuman and destined for greatness from conception.

No Average Artists: Who Was Deemed Good Enough to Create Sculptures of Alexander the Great?

If Alexander the Great was alive now, he would probably be the most often photographed leader in the world. However, in his time, photography didn't exist. During the 4th century BC, a remarkable ruler like Alexander wanted to be commemorated with amazing sculptures that presented him as perfect being, more like a god than a man. To achieve this task, he needed the best artists.

A sculptor woke up in the morning and checked the lines of the statue in the morning light. If he was happy with the result, he could finally start the journey to offer his piece of art to the ruler, if not, the work had to continue until the artist felt that the ruler would be satisfied. The more powerful the ruler, the more sophisticated the monuments in his name had to be. Alexander the Great followed generations of rulers who wanted to be depicted in the best way.


Ancient era Edit

Recent radiocarbon dating of seashell fragments and lead contamination show human activity at the location during the period of the Old Kingdom (27th–21st centuries BC) and again in the period 1000–800 BC, followed by the absence of activity thereafter. [11] From ancient sources it is known there existed a trading post at this location during the time of Rameses the Great for trade with Crete, but it had long been lost by the time of Alexander's arrival. [9] A small Egyptian fishing village named Rhakotis (Egyptian: rꜥ-qdy.t, 'That which is built up') existed since the 13th century BC in the vicinity and eventually grew into the Egyptian quarter of the city. [9] Just east of Alexandria (where Abu Qir Bay is now), there was in ancient times marshland and several islands. As early as the 7th century BC, there existed important port cities of Canopus and Heracleion. The latter was recently rediscovered under water.

Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in April 331 BC as Ἀλεξάνδρεια (Alexandreia). Passing through Egypt, Alexander wanted to build a large Greek city on Egypt's coast that would bear his name. He chose the site of Alexandria, envisioning the building of a causeway to the nearby island of Pharos that would generate two great natural harbours. [9] Alexandria was intended to supersede the older Greek colony of Naucratis as a Hellenistic centre in Egypt, and to be the link between Greece and the rich Nile valley. A few months after the foundation, Alexander left Egypt and never returned to the city during his life.

After Alexander's departure, his viceroy Cleomenes continued the expansion. The architect Dinocrates of Rhodes designed the city, using a Hippodamian grid plan. Following Alexander's death in 323 BC, his general Ptolemy Lagides took possession of Egypt and brought Alexander's body to Egypt with him. [12] Ptolemy at first ruled from the old Egyptian capital of Memphis. In 322/321 BC he had Cleomenes executed. Finally, in 305 BC, Ptolemy declared himself Pharaoh as Ptolemy I Soter ("Savior") and moved his capital to Alexandria.

Although Cleomenes was mainly in charge of overseeing Alexandria's early development, the Heptastadion and the mainland quarters seem to have been primarily Ptolemaic work. Inheriting the trade of ruined Tyre and becoming the centre of the new commerce between Europe and the Arabian and Indian East, the city grew in less than a generation to be larger than Carthage. In a century, Alexandria had become the largest city in the world and, for some centuries more, was second only to Rome. It became Egypt's main Greek city, with Greek people from diverse backgrounds. [13]

Alexandria was not only a centre of Hellenism, but was also home to the largest urban Jewish community in the world. The Septuagint, a Greek version of the Tanakh, was produced there. The early Ptolemies kept it in order and fostered the development of its museum into the leading Hellenistic centre of learning (Library of Alexandria), but were careful to maintain the distinction of its population's three largest ethnicities: Greek, Jewish, and Egyptian. [14] By the time of Augustus, the city walls encompassed an area of 5.34 km 2 , and the total population during the Roman principate was around 500,000–600,000, which would wax and wane in the course of the next four centuries under Roman rule. [15]

According to Philo of Alexandria, in the year 38 of the Common era, disturbances erupted between Jews and Greek citizens of Alexandria during a visit paid by King Agrippa I to Alexandria, principally over the respect paid by the Herodian nation to the Roman emperor, and which quickly escalated to open affronts and violence between the two ethnic groups and the desecration of Alexandrian synagogues. This event has been called the Alexandrian pogroms. The violence was quelled after Caligula intervened and had the Roman governor, Flaccus, removed from the city. [16]

In AD 115, large parts of Alexandria were destroyed during the Kitos War, which gave Hadrian and his architect, Decriannus, an opportunity to rebuild it. In 215, the emperor Caracalla visited the city and, because of some insulting satires that the inhabitants had directed at him, abruptly commanded his troops to put to death all youths capable of bearing arms. On 21 July 365, Alexandria was devastated by a tsunami (365 Crete earthquake), [17] an event annually commemorated years later as a "day of horror". [18]

Islamic era Edit

In 619, Alexandria fell to the Sassanid Persians. Although the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius recovered it in 629, in 641 the Arabs under the general 'Amr ibn al-'As invaded it during the Muslim conquest of Egypt, after a siege that lasted 14 months. The first Arab governor of Egypt recorded to have visited Alexandria was Utba ibn Abi Sufyan, who strengthened the Arab presence and built a governor's palace in the city in 664–665. [19] [20]

After the Battle of Ridaniya in 1517, the city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and remained under Ottoman rule until 1798. Alexandria lost much of its former importance to the Egyptian port city of Rosetta during the 9th to 18th centuries, and only regained its former prominence with the construction of the Mahmoudiyah Canal in 1807.

Alexandria figured prominently in the military operations of Napoleon's expedition to Egypt in 1798. French troops stormed the city on 2 July 1798, and it remained in their hands until the arrival of a British expedition in 1801. The British won a considerable victory over the French at the Battle of Alexandria on 21 March 1801, following which they besieged the city, which fell to them on 2 September 1801. Muhammad Ali, the Ottoman governor of Egypt, began rebuilding and redevelopment around 1810, and by 1850, Alexandria had returned to something akin to its former glory. [21] Egypt turned to Europe in their effort to modernize the country. Greeks, followed by other Europeans and others, began moving to the city. In the early 20th century, the city became a home for novelists and poets. [10]

In July 1882, the city came under bombardment from British naval forces and was occupied. [22]

In July 1954, the city was a target of an Israeli bombing campaign that later became known as the Lavon Affair. On 26 October 1954, Alexandria's Mansheya Square was the site of a failed assassination attempt on Gamal Abdel Nasser. [23]

Europeans began leaving Alexandria following the 1956 Suez Crisis that led to an outburst of Arab nationalism. The nationalization of property by Nasser, which reached its highest point in 1961, drove out nearly all the rest. [10]

Ibn Battuta in Alexandria Edit

In reference to Alexandria, Egypt, Ibn Battuta speaks of great saints that resided here. One of them being Imam Borhan Oddin El Aaraj. He was said to have the power of working miracles. He told Ibn Battuta that he should go find his three brothers, Farid Oddin, who lived in India, Rokn Oddin Ibn Zakarya, who lived in Sindia, and Borhan Oddin, who lived in China. Battuta then made it his purpose to find these people and give them his compliments. Sheikh Yakut was another great man. He was the disciple of Sheikh Abu Abbas El Mursi, who was the disciple of Abu El Hasan El Shadali, who is known to be a servant of God. Abu Abbas was the author of the Hizb El Bahr and was famous for piety and miracles. Abu Abd Allah El Murshidi was a great interpreting saint that lived secluded in the Minyat of Ibn Murshed. He lived alone but was visited daily by emirs, viziers, and crowds that wished to eat with him. The Sultan of Egypt (El Malik El Nasir) visited him, as well. Ibn Battuta left Alexandria with the intent of visiting him. [24]

Ibn Battuta also visited the Pharos lighthouse on 2 occasions in 1326 he found it to be partly in ruins and in 1349 it had deteriorated further, making entrance to the edifice impossible. [25]

Timeline Edit

The most important battles and sieges of Alexandria include:

    , Julius Caesar's civil war , final war of the Roman Republic , Byzantine-Persian Wars , Rashidun conquest of Byzantine Egypt (1365), a crusade led by Peter de Lusignan of Cyprus which resulted in the defeat of the Mamluks and the sack of the city. , Napoleonic Wars , Napoleonic Wars , Napoleonic Wars (1882), followed by the British occupation of Egypt

Greek Alexandria was divided into three regions:

Two main streets, lined with colonnades and said to have been each about 60 meters (200 ft) wide, intersected in the centre of the city, close to the point where the Sema (or Soma) of Alexander (his Mausoleum) rose. This point is very near the present mosque of Nebi Daniel and the line of the great East–West "Canopic" street, only slightly diverged from that of the modern Boulevard de Rosette (now Sharia Fouad). Traces of its pavement and canal have been found near the Rosetta Gate, but remnants of streets and canals were exposed in 1899 by German excavators outside the east fortifications, which lie well within the area of the ancient city.

Alexandria consisted originally of little more than the island of Pharos, which was joined to the mainland by a 1,260-metre-long (4,130 ft) mole and called the Heptastadion ("seven stadia"—a stadium was a Greek unit of length measuring approximately 180 metres or 590 feet). The end of this abutted on the land at the head of the present Grand Square, where the "Moon Gate" rose. All that now lies between that point and the modern "Ras al-Tin" quarter is built on the silt which gradually widened and obliterated this mole. The Ras al-Tin quarter represents all that is left of the island of Pharos, the site of the actual lighthouse having been weathered away by the sea. On the east of the mole was the Great Harbour, now an open bay on the west lay the port of Eunostos, with its inner basin Kibotos, now vastly enlarged to form the modern harbour.

In Strabo's time, (latter half of the 1st century BC) the principal buildings were as follows, enumerated as they were to be seen from a ship entering the Great Harbour.

  1. The Royal Palaces, filling the northeast angle of the town and occupying the promontory of Lochias, which shut in the Great Harbour on the east. Lochias (the modern Pharillon) has almost entirely disappeared into the sea, together with the palaces, the "Private Port," and the island of Antirrhodus. There has been a land subsidence here, as throughout the northeast coast of Africa.
  2. The Great Theater, on the modern Hospital Hill near the Ramleh station. This was used by Julius Caesar as a fortress, where he withstood a siege from the city mob after he took Egypt after the battle of Pharsalus [citation needed] [clarification needed]
  3. The Poseidon, or Temple of the Sea God, close to the theater
  4. The Timonium built by Marc Antony
  5. The Emporium (Exchange)
  6. The Apostases (Magazines)
  7. The Navalia (Docks), lying west of the Timonium, along the seafront as far as the mole
  8. Behind the Emporium rose the Great Caesareum, by which stood the two great obelisks, which become known as "Cleopatra's Needles," and were transported to New York City and London. This temple became, in time, the Patriarchal Church, though some ancient remains of the temple have been discovered. The actual Caesareum, the parts not eroded by the waves, lies under the houses lining the new seawall.
  9. The Gymnasium and the Palaestra are both inland, near the Boulevard de Rosette in the eastern half of the town sites unknown.
  10. The Temple of Saturn alexandria west.
  11. The Mausolea of Alexander (Soma) and the Ptolemies in one ring-fence, near the point of intersection of the two main streets.
  12. The Musaeum with its famous Library and theater in the same region site unknown.
  13. The Serapeum of Alexandria, the most famous of all Alexandrian temples. Strabo tells us that this stood in the west of the city and recent discoveries go far as to place it near "Pompey's Pillar," which was an independent monument erected to commemorate Diocletian's siege of the city.

The names of a few other public buildings on the mainland are known, but there is little information as to their actual position. None, however, are as famous as the building that stood on the eastern point of Pharos island. There, The Great Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, reputed to be 138 metres (453 feet) high, was situated. The first Ptolemy began the project, and the second Ptolemy (Ptolemy II Philadelphus) completed it, at a total cost of 800 talents. It took 12 years to complete and served as a prototype for all later lighthouses in the world. The light was produced by a furnace at the top and the tower was built mostly with solid blocks of limestone. The Pharos lighthouse was destroyed by an earthquake in the 14th century, making it the second longest surviving ancient wonder, after the Great Pyramid of Giza. A temple of Hephaestus also stood on Pharos at the head of the mole.

In the 1st century, the population of Alexandria contained over 180,000 adult male citizens, [26] according to a census dated from 32 CE, in addition to a large number of freedmen, women, children and slaves. Estimates of the total population range from 216,000 [27] to 500,000 [28] making it one of the largest cities ever built before the Industrial Revolution and the largest pre-industrial city that was not an imperial capital. [ citation needed ]

English Versions

The Alexander cycle was no less popular in Great Britain. The letter from Alexander to Aristotle and his correspondence with Dindimus are found in Early English versions dating from the 11th century. These are printed by O. Cockayne in his Narratiunculae Anglice conscriptae (1861). The Monk ( De Cas. ill. vir. ) in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales prefaces his account of Alexander with the statement that his story is so common That every wight that hath discrecioun Hath herd somewhat or all of his fortune.

There are two considerable fragments of an English alliterative romance on the subject written in the west midland dialect, and dating from the second half of the 14th century. The first, The Gestes of the Worthy King and Emperor Alisaunder of Macedoine (ed. W. W. Skeat, E.E.T.S., 1877, with William of Palerme) contains an account of the wars of Philip, of Nectanebus and of the education of Alexander. A second fragment (ed. Skeat, E.E.T.S., 1878) contains Alexander's visit to the Gymnosophists and his correspondence with Dindimus. Another alliterative poem in the northern dialect, of 15th-century origin, is based on the Historia de proeliis, and was edited by Skeat for the E.E.T.S. (1886) as The Wars of Alexander. Earlier than any of these is the rhyming Lyfe of Alisaunder (c. 1330) which is printed in H. Weber's Metrical Romances (vol. i., 1810). It is written in unusually picturesque and vigorous language, and is based on the Roman de toute chevalerie, a French compilation made about 1250 by a certain Eustace or Thomas of Kent. Fragments of another rhyming poem (pr. c. 1550) are preserved in the British Museum. The Scots Buik of the most noble and vailyzeand Conqueror Alexander the Great, printed by Alexander Arbuthnot (d. 1585) about 1580, reprinted in 1831 for the Bannatyne Club, is not really a life. It contains three episodes of the cycle, the "Forray of Gadderis" (not taken from the Fuerre de Gadres but from the Assaut de Tyr in the Romans d'Alixandre), " The Avowes of Alexander," and "The Great Battel of Effesoun," taken from the Viceux du paon. Many passages in John Barbour's Bruce are almost identical with this book, and it is suggested by G. Neilson ( John Barbour, Poet and Translator, London, 1900) that Barbour was the author, although the colophon states that it was written in 1438. Bruce at Bannockburn makes the same oration as Alexander at "Effesoun." A Buke of the Conqueror Alexander the Great by Sir Gilbert Hay (fl. 1456) is in MS. at Taymouth Castle.

Bibliography. - The best sketch of the Alexander romance literature is by Paul Meyer, Alexandre le grand dans la littrature francaise au moyen age (2 vols., Paris, 1886). The first volume contains some French texts, and the second a detailed discussion of the various versions from the pseudo-Callisthenes downwards. See also J. Zacher, Pseudo-Callisthenes, Forschungen zur. . Alexandersage (Halle, 1867), and for Oriental versions, T. NOldeke, "Beitrage zur Geschichte des Alexanderromans" ( Denkschriften der ksl. Akad. d. Wissenschaften, Phil.-hist. Klasse, vol.38: Vienna, 1890). For early printed versions see Brunet, Manuel du libraire, s.v. " Alexandre." The text of the pseudo-Callisthenes was edited by C. W. Muller from three MSS. in the Bibl. Nat. and printed in the Arrian of the Coll. Didot (Paris, 1846), and by H. Meusel (Leipzig, 1871) from a Leiden MS. A. Mai edited Julius Valerius (Milan, 1817) and the Itinerarium Alexandri (Class. Auct. vol. vii. Milan, 18 35) J. Zacher, the Epitome (Halle, 1867) and Alex. iter ad Paradisum (Regensburg, 1859) the Oxford MS. of the Epitome was edited by G. Cilli (Strassburg, 1905) G. Landgraf, Die "Vita Alexandri". .. des Archpresbyter Leo (Historia de proeliis ), (Erlangen, 1885) Alexander's letter to Aristotle and his correspondence with Dindimus are included in the Teubner edition of Julius Valerius (ed. B. Kiibler, Leipzig, 1888). A newly discovered anonymous Epitome was edited by O. Wagner (Leipzig, 1900).

The fragment by Alberic was edited by P. Heyse (Berlin, 1856) Lamprecht's German text by H. Weismann (Frankfort, 1850) and by C. Kinzel (Halle, 1884) the Alexandreis of Gaultier de Lille, by F. A. W. Miildener (Leipzig, 1863) an Icelandic prose version ( c. 1250) of the same, Alexanders Saga, by C. R. Unger (Christiania, 1848) Li Romans d'Alixandre, by H. Michelant (Stuttgart, 1846) the Ethiopic version by E. A. T. Wallis Budge (1896, 2 vols., with English translation) the Syriac text of pseudo-Callisthenes by Budge (Cambridge, 1889) cp. K. F. Weymann, Die dthiopische and arabische Ubersetzungen des Pseudo-Kallisthenes (Kirchhain, 1901).

Besides the English editions quoted in the text, the alliterative English poems were partially edited by J. Stevenson for the Roxburghe Club (1849). There is a great deal of information on the various texts in H. L. Wood's Catalogue of Romances in the British Museum (1883, vol. i. pp. 94 et seq.). See also A. Hermann, Untersuchungen fiber das Scottische Alexanderbuch (1893) and Unters. fiber das med. Gedicht, The Wars of Alexander (Berlin, 1889). Among other works see E. Rohde, Der griechische Roman (2nd ed. Leipzig, 1900) B. Meissner, Alexander u. Gilgamos (Leipzig, 1894) F. Kampers, "Alex. d. Grosse and die Idee des Weltimperiums in Prophetie and Sage" (in H. Granert's Studien, &c., Freiburg, 1901) Adolf Ausfeld, Der griechische Alexanderroman (Leipzig, 1907), edited after the author's death by W. Kroll Wilhelm Hertz, "Aristoteles in den Alex. Dichtungen d. Mittelalters" ( Kgl. Acad. d. Wissenschaften, Munich, 1891) H. Becker, Die Brahmanen in d. Alex. Sage (Konigsberg, 1889). (M. BR.)

The Discovery of The Tombs of Alexander the Great’s Father and Son in Vergina

On a rainy morning of November 8, 1977 Greek Archaeologist Manolis Andronikos, discovered in Vergina, a sleepy Greek Village, the tomb of Alexander the Great’s father, King Philip II of Macedon and Alexander’s son, Alexander IV! This historically important discovery shook the archaeological community and the world at large.

Vergina Village

Vergina village is located close to Veria city, about 100 miles away from the secret burial grounds of Amphipolis.

Archeologists have been looking to complete the story of Macedon since 1850s.

By the end of the decade, Emperor Napoleon III of France had ordered excavations in the burial mounds around the area to search for Aegae. By 1922, the area became inhabited as a modern village of Vergina, and was already on the radar by 1937 when remains of an ancient palace were dug out. World War II stopped the work, and people forgot about it for a little while.

However, in 1977 Manolis Andronikos, led a dig around a large mound (called the Great Tumulus), under the supervision of English classicist Nic Hammond. This eventful dig uncovered a site of unopened Royal Tombs hidden under the 110m by 13m structure. Historians concur that the structure was built by Antigonos Gonatas to protect desecration of Royal Tombs when Galati raided the area and looted cemeteries. The finds from the burial are remarkably well–preserved.

Granted a “World Heritage Site” status by UNESCO, the discoveries began an exciting phase in the debate regarding the identification.

Opinions remained divided regarding the cremated remains inside the golden caskets.

Some said it is Phillip II (father of Alexander) and one of his wives. The casket contained specially shaped graves to fit a leg with broken shin-bone –consistent with the fact that the king had injured his right leg during the Ardian war (345 BC). Others argued it is Philip III Arrhidaeus (Alexander’s half-brother) who became the king after Alexander’s death and his wife Eurydice.

Finally, the most detailed and extensive study ever conducted on the remains have settled the decades-old argument, confirming the bones indeed belong to the Macedonian King Philip II.

Eventually, the debate was settled for good by Theodore Antikas, who led the Art-Anthropological team of researchers in Vergina. He studied the bone fragments and concluded there were several wounds, including maxillary and frontal sinusitis from a face wound. Wax reconstruction of the skull confirmed trauma from an arrow wound matching the history of Phillip II, who was blinded by a similar wound. The other skeleton was confirmed as that of a Scythian warrior princess.

The man was one-eye blind, had a damaged foot and yet he married seven times? Take that, Larry King!

Wall painting depicting the Rape of Persephone.

There were three tombs discovered.

The first one was already looted, with few human remains and a stunning wall painting depicting the Rape of Persephone, left behind.

Tomb II and Tomb III were undisturbed.

The second tomb hosted a nearly intact male skeleton, complete with 350 bones and fragments. It was estimated to be roughly 35-55 years old, consistent with Philip’s age at the time of assassination (46). The antechamber contained cremated remains of a female.

Alexander the Great himself stood once in front of this tomb, saying the last goodbye to his father, Philip.

Even after so many centuries, the power of these so important personalities make any visitor remain silent in front of this tomb, showing respect and admire for them.

The large tomb has a façade which mimics a Doric temple with carved metopes, frieze and hunting scenes painted on it (with a group of seven men shown chasing a deer, a lion and a boar). One of them sports a beard, believed to be Phillip himself.One of the young men in the painting is assumed to be Alexander. The paintings, supposedly the work of artists Nikomachos and Philoxenes are the last surviving examples of ancient Greek painting.

The golden larnax – the urn with the Royal ashes – were preserved in the chambers for nearly two thousand years.

Weapons, assortment of bathing equipments and symposium decorated with gold, ivory and glass were all found within. The smaller chamber also had a similar collection and décor, most likely belonging to one of his wives – Meda of Odessa, Cleopetra Eurydice or daughter of Scythian king Ateas, defeated by Philip II.

In the antechamber of Philip’s tomb another gold larnax was discovered with a royal diadem inside a marble sarcophagus, together with a wooden mortuary couch with similar decoration to Philip’s.

The larnax must have contained the ashes of one of his wives, Meda or Cleopatra or the daughter of Scythian king Ateas, whom Philip II defeated .

Mismatched length in the greaves linked in this antechamber indicates a fracture and muscle atrophy in left leg. Besides being one of the earliest recorded proof of a ‘disabled royal’ it also questions the identity of the woman. But there is no historical information about who this woman was nor that Philip II had a Scythian princess as a wife-concubine. Cleopatra, Philip’s youngest wife, was assassinated immediately (by Olympias) after her husband. No Scythian princess is recorded as a wife either. It makes you wonder whether it was Audata, who was trained in martial arts and a skilled warrior.

Additionally, an elaborate ceremonial shield, an iron helmet, gold and iron cuirass, and a silver gilded crown were found in the excavations. Couple of small ivory portrait heads found, are believed to represent Philip II and Alexander.

Portrait heads of Alexander the Great and Philip II

Additionally, an elaborate ceremonial shield, an iron helmet, gold and iron cuirass, and a silver gilded crown were found in the excavations. Couple of small ivory portrait heads found, are believed to represent Philip II and Alexander.

Golden diadem

According to archaeologists this golden diadem, that belonged to one of the wives of Philip, is the most beautiful diadem ever found, with intricate details like a tiny bee on the top leaf. I wouldn’t notice it if the guide didn’t mention it.

King Philip II

King Philip II was a ruler from fourth century BC whose efforts to reform the army of Macedonia and planned the invasion of Persia served as the foundation for the achievements of his son, Alexander the Great.

Classical portrait of Philip II of Macedonia (left – Glyptotek Collection of classical and modern art –Copenhagen, left- portrait reconstruction by the University of Manchester)

A great warrior, Philip II assumed his throne around 359 BC and single-handedly united the army of Macedonia, laying the foundation for the great triumphs of his son, Alexander with the invasion of Persia. His expansion tactic, where he professed friendship with neighboring regions of Thessaly, Illyria, Balkan states and Thermaic Gulf until he attacked and conquered them – makes him the earliest proponents of ‘divide and rule’ formula.

King Philip II survived and ruled over Macedonia until 336 BC, when he was killed by Pausanias of Orestis.

Philips death

The guide informed us about the irony of Philips death. Philip had paraded statues of the twelve gods extravagantly fashioned with the most magnificent workmanship, , embellished with precious stones and metal. Along with these a thirteenth was carried in procession, a statue fit for a god, one of Philip in person,he implied he was the next God. It was a sin and Macedonians were expecting that Gods would revenge. So it happened.

While the king was entering unprotected into the town’s theater (highlighting his approachability to the Greek diplomats present), at some distance from his guards, as an indication to everyone that he had no need of the protection, he was killed by Pausanias of Orestis, one of his seven bodyguards.

Another story goes that Philip, the King who once ruled over one of the largest kingdoms in history of mankind, supposedly fell to the jealousy of his wife Olympias. A polygamist, Phillip’s marriage to Cleopatra Eurydice threatened Olympias and the succession of her son Alexander to the throne. She apparently was the mind behind Philip’s assassination by the head of his bodyguards, Pausanias of Orestis.

King Philip II had at least seven known wives. That means six mother-in-laws too! I think that is the real reason of his death.

The burial of Alexander IV

Symposium utensils from the tomb of Alexander IV

The third tomb is believed to contain the cremated ashes of Alexander IV

Cassander was supposed to be the regent until Alexander IV was old enough to rule, but to assume full control he had the 12-year old Alexander IV and his mother Roxana poisoned in 310 BC.

At its centre lies the silver urn that held the cremated bones of the young prince, surrounded by exquisite ivory reliefs decorating the bier.

Next is the Heroön, a building which was intended for the cult of the dead kings. The foundations and the cist grave survive. This is a particularly important grave because it contained a wall painting of the rape of Persephone by Pluto. It was found desecrated.

The Heroon (over-ground building monumental sanctuary for a hero)

The Diadochi That Failed To Establish A Dynasty

A rendering of a Macedonian phalanx in formation post-military reform, via helenic-art.com

Starting with Perdiccas, the empire’s first regent, and Antipater, its second one, there is a long series of Diadochi who did not manage to establish their own dynasty and secure the lastingness of their bloodline.

As we saw, Perdiccas was assassinated in 321 BCE. Antipater however, died of old age in 319 BCE. Paradoxically he did not appoint his son, Cassander, as his successor but Polyperchon, an officer who took Macedon under his control and kept fighting for the dominance of the area until the early 3 rd century.

Alexander the Great’s son Alexander IV died in 309 BC at the age of 14 assassinated by Cassander. However, until his death, Alexander IV was considered the legitimate successor of Alexander, although he never exerted any real power.

Philip III Arrhidaeus was the brother of Alexander the Great. However, he suffered from severe mental health issues that never allowed him to rule. Philip was initially destined to be a co-ruler of Alexander IV. He married Eurydice, a daughter of Cynane who was a daughter of Philip II, Alexander the Great’s father. Eurydice was extremely ambitious and sought to expand Philip’s power. However, in 317 BCE Philip and Eurydice found themselves in a war against the mother of Alexander the Great, Olympias. Olympias captured them, murdered Philip, and forced Eurydice to commit suicide.


Hercules (obverse) and lion (reverse), coin issued under Cassander, 317-306 BCE, British Museum

Cassander, Antipater’s son, was notorious for murdering Alexander’s wife, Roxana, and only successor, Alexander IV, as well as his illegitimate son Heracles. He also ordered the death of Olympias, Alexander’s mother.

Cassander married Alexander’s sister Thessalonica to strengthen his royal claim as he fought mainly for Greece and the kingdom of Macedonia. Eventually, he became the king of Macedonia from 305 until 297 BCE when he died of dropsy. His children Philip, Alexander, and Antipater proved incapable heirs and did not manage to maintain the kingdom of their father which soon passed to the hands of the Antigonids.

Cassander founded important cities like Thessalonica and Cassandreia. He also rebuilt Thebes, which had been razed to the ground by Alexander.


Alexander (obverse) and Athena (reverse), Silver tetradrachm issued under Lysimachus, 305-281BCE, the British Museum

Lysimachus was a very good friend of Philip II, Alexander’s father. He later became a bodyguard of Alexander during his campaign against the Achaemenid Empire. He founded the city of Lysimachia.

After Alexander’s death, Lysimachus ruled Thrace. In the aftermath of the battle of Ipsos, he expanded his territory which now included Thrace, the north part of Asia Minor, Lydia, Ionia, and Phrygia.

Towards the end of his life, his third wife, Arsinoe II who wanted to secure the succession of her own son on the throne forced Lysimachus to kill his first-born son, Agathocles. This murder caused Lysimachus’ subjects to revolt. Seleucus took advantage of the situation invaded and killed Lysimachus at the battle of Kouropedium in 281 BC.

Coin with Seleucus I, ca 304-294 BCE, Metropolitan Museum of Art Coin with Ptolemy I, issued under Ptolemy II, 277-6 BCE, British Museum Horned head of Pan, issued under Antigonus II Gonatas, ca. 274/1-260/55 BCE, via Heritage Auctions Kingdoms of the successors of Alexander: after the Battle of Ipsus, Library of Congress

The age of the diadochi of Alexander the Great was one of the bloodiest pages of Greek history. A series of ambitious generals attempted to secure parts of Alexander’s empire leading to the creation of the Kingdoms that shaped the Hellenistic World. This was a period of intrigue, treachery, and blood.

Tomb of Alexander the Great already found, archaeologist claims, but findings have been blocked by ‘diplomatic intervention’

The final resting place of the Macedonian king, Alexander the Great, has been one of the biggest mysteries of antiquity, but is it one that has already been solved? Archaeologist Liana Souvaltzi claims she discovered the real tomb of Alexander 20 years ago in Egypt and has been blocked by the Greek and Egyptian governments ever since.

Alexander III of Macedon , also known as Alexander the Great , was born in Pella in 356 BC and was mentored by Aristotle until the age of 16. He became king of the kingdom of Macedon, a state in northern ancient Greece, and emperor of the PanHellenic alliance against the Persian Empire he was also crowned Pharaoh of Egypt. By the age of 30, he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to Egypt and into present-day Pakistan. He is considered one of history's most successful commanders and became the measure against which military leaders would later compare themselves.

Relief depicting Alexander the Great and his army in battle. Source: BigStockPhoto

Alexander died a mysterious death at the age of 32 in Babylon in 323 BC. He had been holding a memorial feast to honour the death of a close personal friend when he was seized with intense pain and collapsed. He was taken to his bedchamber where, after days of agony, he fell into a coma and died. Scholars still debate his cause of death , with theories ranging from malaria to alcohol poisoning or being intentionally poisoned by a rival. But by far the greatest mystery, was what happened to his body after death.

Many ancient writers have recorded valuable information about the life (and death) of Alexander the Great, including ancient historians Plutarch, Kourtios, Diodorus and Arianos. According to Herodotus, Strabo and Stobaeus, the tradition in Babylon at the time of Alexander’s death, was for the dead to be buried in a casing of honey or wax, leading to speculation that the body of Alexander the Great may have undergone the same rites.

Historians have recorded that Alexander’s Generals were fighting for two years over whom would take his body and what would be done with it. Some wanted his body to be buried in Macedonia, but Ptolemy, who was very close to Alexander, wanted it to be buried in Egypt (he had been, after all, the previous pharaoh of Egypt).

During these two years, it was said that Alexander’s body was embalmed and a golden chariot was built to transfer his body. Two years later, the march from Babylon at the sanctuary of Amun began, which was in accordance with Alexander’s own wishes. The chariot was followed by military guards and soldiers who opened the path for the great procession. However, according to Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus (1 st century BC), when on the border between Syria and Egypt, the procession was met by Ptolemy, who "stole" the body and transferred it to Alexandria.

Artist’s depiction of Alexander the Great’s funeral procession. Image source .

While the actual location of Alexander’s final resting place remained a mystery for over two millennia, we do know that several important figures visited Alexander’s tomb. According to historical records, Alexander’s illustrious visitors included Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Octavian, Caligula, Hadrian, Severus, Caracalla and a host of other luminaries. In 199 AD, Alexander’s tomb was sealed up by Roman Emperor, Septimius Severus, in Alexandria. Later on in 215 AD some items from his tomb were apparently relocated. And then in 1491 AD, we can find reference to authors such as Leo the African and Al-Masudi visiting Alexandria and gazing upon the remarkable tomb of Alexander the Great. There is, therefore, substantial references to the tomb of Alexander being located in Egypt. Indeed, Alexander had strong connections with Egypt – he had been crowned Pharaoh in Memphis, after he defeated the Persian Emperor Darius and liberated Egypt from the Persian army.

Unearthing the Tomb of Alexander the Great

Liana Souvaltzi, Greek archaeologist and member of the Egyptian Expeditionary Society of London, who has specialized in the history of Alexander the Great, supported the hypothesis that General Ptolemy fulfilled Alexander’s wish for his body to be buried in the well-known temple of the supreme Egyptian god Amun Ra, in the Oasis of Siwa . Alexander believed that he was the son of Zeus (Zeus-Amun = Amun Ra), a theory that was later ‘confirmed’ to him by the Oracle of Amun at Siwa.

The Oracle of Amun at Siwa was of great importance in the ancient world, especially for the Greeks who believed that from the Oracle of Amun at Siwa, the art of prophesizing reached the first Oracle of Greece, the Oracle of Dodoni. According to Alexander’s court historians, a verification from this Oracle was given to Alexander that he was the son of Zeus, and at the same time the legitimate Pharaoh of Egypt. However, according to Greek historian Plutarch (46 – 120 AD), the prophet of the Oracle tried to talk in Greek, and his words were misheard as referring to Alexander as the son of God – something that was misused for political reasons. In any case, Alexander’s visit to the Oracle of Amun at Siwa had a great impact upon him and it is for this reason that Ms Souvaltzi proposed that the Oasis of Siwa may have been chosen as the location of his tomb.

Famous Oracle and Temple of Amun at the Siwa Oasis. Visited by Alexander the Great. Image source .

In 1984, Ms Souvaltzi applied to the Egyptian authorities for permission to excavate the area of the Siwa Oasis, located between the Qattara Depression and the Egyptian Sand Sea in the Libyan Desert, nearly 50 km east of the Libyan border, and 560 km from Cairo. In 1989, five years after the application had been submitted, permission was granted and excavations began.

After only one week of excavations, Ms Souvaltzi and the archaeological team made a spectacular discovery – they found an entranceway, guarded by lion statues, to what appeared to be a very large and important monument. Over the next several years, the excavations revealed that the monument was a magnificent 525 square meter Hellenistic royal tomb.

A diagram of the tomb made by architect Praxiteli Xalepa

In addition to the lions in the entranceway, the archaeological team unearthed numerous lion heads throughout the underground structure – a reflection of the important status of the owner, as well as Greek-style decorations, Greek inscriptions, and a carved relief with the symbol of Amun Ra, all of which pointed to the tomb belonging to Alexander the Great. One of the inscriptions, which Ms Souvaltzi believes was written by Ptolemy, refers to the elaborate transportation of the body to that tomb, though there is no reference to any names.

One of the lions discovered inside the tomb.

The Symbol of Amon Ra found in the excavations

In 1995, an international announcement was made about the discovery, and just as we see now with the tomb in Amphipolis, there was great excitement throughout the world, and particularly in Greece, that finally the tomb of Alexander the Great had been found. By this stage, archaeologists had excavated as far as the final burial chamber, but had not yet entered it.

Photo of the archaeological team released at the time of the international announcement on the 29 th of January, 1995

While there was great excitement, the announcement also caused huge political disturbances. The breakup of Yugoslavia had only recently taken place and heated debates had ensued after a federal unit of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia tried to name itself the ‘Republic of Macedonia’, when ‘Macedonia’ had been the name of the northern part of Greece for thousands of years. They were tense times and the Greek Government was concerned with the heightened nationalism spurred on by the discovery of the tomb believed to belong to Alexander the Great, a Macedonian.

As a result, the Greek Government called a stop to the excavations through direct ‘diplomatic intervention’. The then Prime Minister, Costas Simitis, sent an advisor of the Greek Embassy to ask the Egyptian government to withdraw Ms Souvaltzi’s permission to excavate and to prevent any further excavations of the tomb.

The Egyptian government immediately informed Ms Souvaltzi about this intervention, telling her that it was the first time that something like this had happened, where they had been requested to pull the plug on the excavations of such an important monument. They told her that if she wanted to continue, she would need to resolve it with the Greek government. Ms Souvaltzi contacted Mr Pagalos, a Minister in the Greek Government, who explained to her that the discovery of Alexander’s tomb would increase nationalism in Greece, which was not desired at that time. When the new Greek government replaced the old one, she tried again to move the blockage and reinstate the excavations permit. However, every effort was blocked at the highest levels.

In a recent interview on a Greek TV channel, Leana Souvaltzi mentioned that while in Egypt, an Israeli ambassador visited the tomb in the Oasis, accompanied by a team of scientists. The ambassador admitted to her that it was a very big discovery but that it would change the political situation in Egypt and disrupt the balances between a number of other countries. The ambassador told her that, while she had the courage to fight for the truth, sometimes when you expose the truth, you pay for it.

3D reconstructions of what the tomb would have once looked like

Twenty years after her incredible discovery, Ms Souvaltzi still fights for the permission to continue her excavations. She has devoted her life and invested her personal money into this project and expressed deep concern regarding the preservation of the monument, which would have since suffered extensive erosion.

Today, the magnificent tomb believed to belong to Alexander the Great sits in the Oasis of Siwa guarded by the Egyptian authorities. No one goes in and, for the time being, no one has permission to enter the final chamber, which could solve, once and for all, one of the greatest mysteries of the ancient world.

Featured Image: The corridor leading to the tomb in Oasis Siwa. All other Images are sourced from the official site of Leana Souvaltzi.

Wars of Alexander the Great: Battle of the Granicus

Of the four great battles Alexander fought in the course of his brilliant military career, the Battle of the Granicus, fought in May 334 BC, was the first–and the one in which he came closest to failure and death. The Granicus is also worthy of note because it is one of the earliest battles on record that was decided largely by cavalry strength, though coordinated with infantry support. Although some of the tactical details of the fighting are reasonably clear, to this day one of the more puzzling aspects is Alexander’s strategy of opening the battle with a feint attack. Unfortunately, the three major ancient literary sources–Arrian, Diodorus and Plutarch–give very little real detail of the battle, focusing rather on Alexander’s heroic struggle. Nevertheless, by carefully reviewing those literary sources, a highly probable picture of the battle emerges.

After the death of his father, King Philip II, in 336 BC, Alexander III won the allegiance of the army and ascended to the throne of Macedon at age 20, only to find himself at the head of a rebellious kingdom. The sudden death of his father had encouraged the barbarians to the north and west–and several Greek cities to the south–to revolt against Macedonian rule. Within two years, Alexander had suppressed all internal opposition, crushed the barbarian revolts in decisive campaigns and subdued the Greek insurrection. Once he had consolidated his power at home, Alexander enthusiastically took on the project his father had planned but never carried out–an invasion of the Persian empire.

For well over a century, the Persians’ increasing interference in Greek mainland affairs, their oppression of Greek coastal cities in western Asia Minor and their repeated invasions of Greece had filled the Greeks with fear and loathing. In the spring of 334 BC, Alexander led a combined Macedonian, Greek and Balkan (historically referred to as Macedonian) army of 32,000 infantry and 5,100 cavalry on a 20-day march from Macedon to the Hellespont (today called the Dardanelles). Alexander knew that agents sent by King Darius III of Persia had had much to do with inciting the Greeks against him. To his personal desire for revenge, he now harnessed to his cause the Greeks’ grievances over Persian injustices done to them, past and present.

Prior to Alexander’s Hellespont crossing, the Persian satraps (provincial governors) and others in the Persian high command assembled their forces of about 10,000 cavalry and 5,000 infantry near the town of Zelea in western Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). A council of war–to which Memnon, a high-ranking Greek mercenary in Persian service, was admitted–was held to discuss strategy. Knowing that the Macedonian army would be a formidable adversary, Memnon advised the Persians to burn crops, farms and villages in the country through which Alexander would have to pass, thereby depriving him of provisions, while the Persian army withdrew eastward and avoided battle. The satraps, however, distrusted Memnon because he was a Greek, and they were reluctant to see their territories destroyed. Consequently, they rejected his sound advice and decided to stay to defend their provinces.

The Persian nobles believed themselves superior to the barbaric invaders and counted on a full array of western satraps, a numerically superior cavalry (which for generations was reputed to be the finest in existence), a formidable contingent of Greek mercenary infantry and a sound plan to stop the invasion at the onset. They seem to have had two major objectives. First, they would strategically force Alexander toward a carefully chosen position before he could move farther inland if he did not move toward that position, he would leave his rear unprotected and possibly lose his logistical support and lines of communication with the Hellespont. Second, the Persians hoped to find a strong defensive position that would not only compel Alexander to attack but also minimize his more than 2-to-1 advantage in infantry, while capitalizing on their 2-to-1 advantage in cavalry.

In keeping with their plan, the Persians advanced from Zelea to the nearby Granicus River (today called the Kocabas Cay). The 60- to 90-foot-wide river, with its varying depth, strong current and steep, irregular bank, would pose a significant obstacle to Alexander’s cavalry and would make it difficult for his phalanxes to hold formation. The Persians established a strong defensive position on the eastern bank and placed all their cavalry in the front line, creating as wide a front as possible–approximately 7,500 feet, or 1.4 miles. There, they confidently awaited the Macedonian army’s arrival.

Diodorus is the only ancient author who provides even a partial Persian order of battle: Memnon of Rhodes, with a cavalry unit of unknown size and nationality, held the extreme left of the Persian forward line. To his right was Arsamenes, also with cavalry of unknown size and nationality then Arsites, with Paphlagonian cavalry of unknown size and Spithridates, with Hyrcanian cavalry of unknown size. The extreme right of the Persian forward line was held by 1,000 Median cavalry and 2,000 cavalry of unknown nationality, both under the command of Rheomithres, and by 2,000 Bactrian cavalry. The center was held by cavalry units of unknown size and nationality, probably under the joint command of Mithridates and Rhoesaces, and no doubt others not mentioned in ancient texts. Greek mercenaries, under Omares, made up the mass of the infantry and were placed at the rear of the cavalry on higher ground.

Some military historians have interpreted the Persian battle array as a tactical blunder. They argue that, by placing the cavalry so close to the steep riverbank, the Persians deprived it of the opportunity to charge and the infantry, in the rear of the cavalry, became mere observers of a struggle in which they could offer little assistance. One of the greatest of Alexander’s modern biographers, Sir William Tarn, disagreed, however, stating that ‘the Persian leaders had in fact a very gallant plan they meant if possible to strangle the war at birth by killing Alexander.’

In ancient times, the commander’s personal leadership and presence in the forefront of battle were so important that his sudden loss, especially at the beginning of the combat, would have a demoralizing effect, possibly causing his army to panic and flee soon after his death. Thus, it seems likely that, by placing their cavalrymen in the front, the Persian leaders intended to meet Alexander’s cavalry charge with their numerically–and, they believed, qualitatively–superior cavalry and simply overwhelm his horsemen.

While the Macedonian army was completing its crossing into Asia Minor, Alexander, accompanied by a portion of his royal guards, sailed ahead, steering south to visit the ruins of the nearby ancient city of Troy. There, he ceremoniously made sacrifices to the gods in honor of the legendary Greek heroes who had fallen nearly 1,000 years earlier in the Trojan War–Greece’s first known invasion of Asia.

Upon rejoining his main army, Alexander received intelligence that the Persian forces were some 50 miles to the northeast. He realized that his first objective could no longer be to move south to liberate the Greek cities under Persian control, since that would leave a substantial enemy force in his rear. Instead, he marched northeastward along the shore of the Hellespont and the Propontis (the present-day Sea of Marmara) with just more than 18,000 of his finest troops (13,000 infantry and 5,100 cavalry), ready to challenge the Persians to a pitched battle.

In midafternoon on the third day of marching, Alexander was not far from the Granicus when his scouts reported that the Persian army was drawn up on the east bank of the river. As the Macedonian army marched toward the river through open country, Alexander placed his heavy infantry in the center in two tandem columns, heavy cavalry on each flank and the baggage train in the rear he then advanced in semideployment behind a heavy screen of light cavalry and infantry.

When Macedonian General Parmenion, Alexander’s second-in-command, could see the enemy’s line, he studied their forces on the far bank, as well as the topography, and advised caution. He disagreed with Alexander about the battle plan, pointing out the difficulties in the river crossing and warning that an immediate attack invited disaster. Alexander, however, rejected Parmenion’s advice, perhaps wanting to capitalize on the Persians’ error in tactical deployment, and decided to deploy his army to attack at once.

In the center of his line, Alexander placed his six Foot Companion battalions of heavy infantry (historically referred to as phalanxes), arranged in the following order from left to right: Meleager’s phalanx with 1,500 infantrymen the phalanx of Philip, son of Amyntas, with 1,500 infantrymen the phalanx of Amyntas, son of Andromenes, with 1,500 infantrymen Craterus’ phalanx, with 1,500 infantrymen the phalanx of Coenus, son of Polemocrates, with 1,500 infantrymen and the phalanx of Perdiccas, son of Orontes, with 1,500 infantrymen. On the left of the phalanxes stood 150 Thracian Odrysian light cavalry under Agathon and 600 Greek allied heavy cavalry under Philip, son of Menelaus. On the extreme left of Alexander’s line were 1,800 Thessalian heavy cavalry under Calas, joined by Parmenion, who probably stationed himself at the head of the Pharsalian squadron. On the right of the phalanxes stood, in succession: 3,000 shield bearers divided into three phalanxes of 1,000 heavy infantrymen each, all under Nicanor, son of Parmenion a combined light mounted force of 600 Prodromoi cavalry and 150 Paeonian cavalry, commanded by Amyntas, son of Arrhabaeus one squadron of 200 Companion heavy cavalry under Socrates, whose turn it was to take the lead that day 1,600 Companion heavy cavalry (with Alexander stationed at the head of the royal squadron), under Philotas, son of Parmenion 500 Agrianian light-javelin men, under Attalus and, finally, 500 Cretan light archers, under Clearchus.

For the purpose of command, the army was divided into two wings. The right, commanded by Alexander, consisted of the three right Foot Companion phalanxes and everything to their right while Parmenion commanded the three left Foot Companion phalanxes and everything to their left.

As the Battle of the Granicus began, the Persian leaders, in keeping with their plan to kill Alexander, focused on the Macedonian commander in chief’s movements. The glitter of his magnificent armor, the white plumes on helmet and his entourage made him a conspicuous target. When the Persians observed Alexander at the head of the Companion cavalry on the right flank, they concluded that his intention was to attack their left. As a result, the Persians transferred some of their cavalry regiments from their center and left center and massed them on and above the riverbank opposite Alexander to meet what they expected would be his main assault.

Once the final Persian and Macedonian battle arrays were complete, the two armies paused a moment and faced each other in silence. Then Alexander opened the battle by sending forward an advance force under the command of Amyntas. Three contingents of cavalry–the combined Prodromoi and Paeonian force, along with Socrates’ Companion squadron–totaling 950 horsemen, and one phalanx of infantry (1,000 soldiers) made a feint attack on the Persians’ extreme left flank, with Socrates’ squadron leading the way.

Arrian, a 2nd-century Greek historian whose account of the battle is the most comprehensive and reliable, described the hard-fought cavalry action that ensued in the river and on its bank: ‘At the point where the vanguard under Amyntas and Socrates touched the bank, the Persians shot volleys on them from above, some hurling their javelins into the river from their commanding position on the bank, others going down to the stream on the more level ground. There was a great shoving by the cavalry, as some were trying to get out of the river, others to stop them, great showers of Persian javelins, much thrusting of Macedonian spears. But the Macedonians, much outnumbered, came off badly in the first onslaught they were defending themselves from the river on ground that was not firm and was beneath the enemy’s while the Persians had the advantage of the bank in particular, the flower of the Persian cavalry was posted here, and Memnon’s sons and Memnon himself ventured their lives with them. The first Macedonians who came to grips with the Persians were cut down, despite their valor.’

Although the relatively weak Macedonian advance force met with predictably intense resistance and suffered heavy losses, it succeeded in drawing the Persian left-flank cavalry out of their formations. Once that was achieved, Alexander, with trumpets blaring his commands, launched his main assault, leading his famous Companion cavalry, the elite of the army, forward toward the now-disorganized Persian cavalry. With Alexander at the head of the royal squadron, the six other Companion cavalry squadrons crossed the river and fought their way up its eastern bank, as the Persians hurled their javelins down upon them.

Arrian described the fighting at that point: ‘Though the fighting was on horseback, it was more like an infantry battle, horse entangled with horse, man with man in the struggle, the Macedonians trying to push the Persians once and for all from the bank and force them on to the level ground, the Persians trying to bar their landing and thrust them back again into the river.’ Meanwhile, the remainder of Alexander’s right wing–the Agrianian javelin men, Cretan archers, two phalanxes of shield bearers and three right phalanxes of Foot Companions–also advanced, with trumpets and battle cries resounding as they entered the river.

When the Persian leaders recognized Alexander, they rode to engage him in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle. The battle became a series of heroic duels between individuals rather than a fight between cavalry units. During the struggle, Alexander’s long Macedonian cavalry lance, or sarissa, was splintered, and he called upon Aretas, one of his Companions, to provide him with another. Aretas’ own weapon had suffered the same misfortune, so Alexander continued fighting bravely with the aftpoint (sauroter). He had no sooner received another sarissa from the Companion Demaratus than the Persian cavalry commander Mithridates appeared at the head of a squadron. Alexander rode forward and struck the Persian leader in the face with his sarissa, killing him instantly.

Rhoesaces, another Persian nobleman, rode up and with his scimitar sliced off part of Alexander’s helmet, causing a minor wound. Then Alexander drove his sarissa through Rhoesaces’ breastplate and into his chest, bringing him to the ground. A third Persian leader, Spithridates, was close behind Alexander and raised his scimitar to strike, but Cleitus, commander of the royal squadron to whom the king’s safety was entrusted, anticipated the blow and severed the Persian’s sword arm, saving Alexander’s life.

Although the Persians maintained a vigorous resistance throughout the bitter struggle, they failed to withstand the charge of the Companion cavalry and were continually pushed back. Arrian wrote, ‘The Persians were now being roughly handled from all quarters they and their horses were struck in the face with lances [sarissas], they were being pushed back by the [Companion] cavalry, and were suffering heavily from the light troops, who had intermingled with the cavalry.’ With the Companion cavalry’s fierce onslaught opening the way, the remainder of Alexander’s right wing crossed the Granicus. They slowly but steadily drove the Persians farther back, gaining the level ground above the steep riverbank.

Meanwhile, Parmenion’s left wing had also advanced and secured a footing. According to Diodorus, the Thessalian cavalry ‘won a great reputation for valor because of the skillful handling of their squadrons and their unmatched fighting quality.’ Although there are no details about the role of Parmenion’s left wing in the battle, its advance was probably delayed until Alexander’s attack was well underway. At the later great battles of Issus and Gaugamela, the Macedonians used a strong defensive left wing at the onset of the battle to balance and safeguard their bold offensive operations on the right.

As a result of the loss of so many of its leaders, the opposition offered by the Persian cavalry deteriorated rapidly. The Persian line first began to give way at the point where Alexander was engaged then the whole center collapsed. Once the center had caved in, both wings of the Persian cavalry–Memnon among them–panicked and fled. The Macedonians could not pursue the fleeing cavalry very far, however. The Persian Greek mercenary infantry, who up to that point had taken no part in the battle, still held their ground and stood in Alexander’s path. The mercenary contingent (perhaps 3,000 troops) presented Alexander with terms under which it would surrender, but he rejected them and ordered his phalanxes to attack the mercenaries in the front, while his cavalry assaulted them on their unprotected flanks and rear. With the exception of 2,000 prisoners–and possibly a few others who threw themselves on the ground and concealed themselves among the dead–the mercenaries were cut down.

The ancient historians’ accounts vary widely as to the losses on both sides. In view of the swiftness of the battle, Arrian probably provided the most credible statistics, although the Macedonian figures are suspiciously low and the Persian numbers perhaps slightly elevated. According to him, Macedonian losses totaled 115 killed󈟁 cavalry (including 25 Companions from Socrates’ squadron, who fell in the advance force) and 30 infantry. No doubt the number of wounded was considerably higher. Persian losses amounted to 4,000 killed–about 1,000 cavalry and perhaps 3,000 Greek mercenaries–along with 2,000 taken prisoner.

Among the Persian high command known to have died in the attempt to slay Alexander were: Spithridates, satrap of Ionia and Lydia Mithrobuzanes, satrap of Cappadocia Mithridates, son-in-law of King Darius Arbupales, grandson of King Artaxerxes II Phranaces, brother-in-law of King Darius Rhoesaces, brother of Spithridates Omares, commander of the Greek mercenaries Niphates, perhaps a cavalry commander Petines, perhaps a cavalry commander and Arsites, satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia (the province in which the battle took place), who fled and later committed suicide, according to Arrian, ‘because the blame of the present blunder seemed to the Persians to lie at his door.’

By Alexander’s order, all who had fallen in the Battle of the Granicus, including the Persian leaders and Greek mercenaries, were buried with military honors. To the surviving relatives of his fallen soldiers, Alexander granted immunity from taxation and public service. He ordered Lysippus, considered perhaps the greatest sculptor of the day, to make bronze statues of the 25 Companion cavalrymen who fell in the initial feint attack. The statues were eventually set up in Dium, a city in Macedon at the foot of Mount Olympus. Alexander visited his wounded, examined their injuries and, according to Arrian, gave every soldier an opportunity to recount–and perhaps exaggerate–his deeds.

The Persian commanders had not kept pace with military developments in Greece, including the tactics and quality of the Macedonian army, in the two decades prior to Alexander’s invasion. Believing themselves to be a match for Alexander in the field, the Persians, who failed to use their professional infantry, simply counted on their numerically superior cavalry and their personal bravery to secure a victory. The resulting lack of coordination between horse and foot violated a principle of integrated armies that even the Persians had long understood.

According to historian E.W. Davis, however, the Persians’ greatest weakness was that the ‘Persian army seems to have been commanded by a committee [and] it may be that we do not have a Persian battle-plan at all, only a blotched compromise between several rival plans.’ The Persian defeat, resulting in the loss of so many satraps and others in the Persian high command, was so overwhelming that no other army could be reassembled to challenge Alexander in all of Asia Minor.

On the other hand, the Battle of the Granicus highlighted Alexander’s remarkable insights into the development of the battle, his anticipation of the enemy’s reactions, his sense of timing, and especially his coordination of heavy infantry, heavy cavalry, light cavalry and light infantry in a single attack. Alexander calculated that, although his cavalry was outnumbered 2-to-1, it was superior in skill and discipline. His cavalrymen were shock troops, armed with long sarissas, and were more accustomed to strong hand-to-hand fighting than were the Persian cavalrymen. The latter were armed with short javelins (designed more for throwing than for thrusting) and scimitars, both of which were ineffective against the Macedonian sarissas.

Alexander also realized that his attacking cavalry had a great advantage over its Persian counterpart, whose defensive role forfeited its mobility and whose faulty deployment negated its advantage in numbers. Alexander’s light infantry archers and javelin men, interspersed among his Companion cavalry, also inflicted much damage and further helped to offset the Persian cavalry’s numerical superiority.

Alexander’s heroic leadership, as he fought in the thick of battle and narrowly escaped death, earned him what Diodorus called the ‘palm for bravery’ and gave him his first great victory over the Persians, opening the way to western and southern Asia Minor. From the spoils of that success, Alexander sent 300 suits of Persian armor to the Parthenon in Athens, to remind the Greeks that this victory was part of the war of revenge against the Persians and to stir Greek enthusiasm. With the triumph at the Granicus, the Greek cities of Asia Minor were liberated from Persian rule–and the beachhead was established for later campaigns deeper in Persian territory.

This article was written by John R. Mixter and originally published in the December 1997 issue of Military History magazine.

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Who was (reputed to be) Alexander The Great's real father? - History

In 323 BC, Alexander the Great fell ill following a banquet held in Babylon (modern day Iraq) at his conquered palace. Ten days later, he was dead just a month short of his thirty-third birthday. His death has been suspicious for over two thousand years and even the sources of the time differ greatly. What actually happened to the great king?

Alexander‘s body has not been identified, so it is impossible to know for certain what caused his early death, but here is what we know: in the ten days before he succumbed to death’s embrace, he suffered from agonizing stomach pains, chills, sweats, exhaustion, and a high fever. According to an ancient source called the Macedonian Royal Diaries, the ailment started as a fever, which he apparently already had ten days before his death. Although Alexander was still drinking wine and eating at this time, he was in a weakened state and as the days went by he grew even weaker and ate less. When it became clear that he king was dying, his generals gathered at his bedside and prayed, but it was no use. He breathed his last on the 10th of June.

In 1998, David W. Oldach, an infectious disease expert at the University of Maryland Medical Center, was stated in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine stated the most likely cause of death to be typhoid fever, which is brought on when someone drinks or comes into contact with contaminated water. Exploring this possibility, there are similarities to the disease that match Alexander’s symptoms well, however, the problem I see with this is that typhoid fever is highly contagious, so why was no one else affected? There are no records of anyone else in Alexander’s close circle or his army falling ill, which begs the question of why only the king was affected.

Malaria has also been put forward as a likely cause of death and this is most commonly accepted by historians. Malaria is an infection caused by a bite from an infected mosquito bite. The disease was rampant at the time, and has even been stated as having brought down King Tut a thousand years earlier (this is even said to have been the real Curse of the Pharaohs). It can remain dormant in the body for several weeks after a person is bitten, so if this is the case, Alexander could have already been sick for a long time before he died. The symptoms fit, but there are holes in the diagnosis. Does it account for the stomach pains that had him all-but screaming in distress? Perhaps not. Severe cases of malaria also include convulsions and gas buildup in the lungs, often leading to cardiac arrest, and these are not mentioned in the Diaries. And again, why was Alexander the only one affected? It may not be a contagious disease, but surely there would have been other fatalities among the Macedonian army at the time, and none were reported.

Now comes the drama that everyone seems to jump to in a case like this: murder. In this case, poison.

The Macedonians were a people prone to violence, much like Alexander himself, so poison seems a bit unlikely to be used as a weapon to kill someone, even a king. In fact, thirteen years before, Alexander’s father Philip II was assassinated in broad daylight while attending a wedding. Despite his title of Megas Alexandros (literally The Great Alexander in ancient Greek) the king was not well liked. Particularly towards the last few years of his reign, he seems to have become increasingly paranoid, executing those he believed to have been plotting against him, including the nephew of his old tutor Aristotle. After the death of his best friend and lover Hephaestion, his paranoia grew worse and he slipped into a depression.

My belief is that Alexander died due to poisoning, whether accidental or intentional. If he was poisoned, it certainly was not by use of anything common such as arsenic or cyanide. The most common suggestion put forward is Hellebore, specifically white hellebore. Though the root of this plant is highly toxic, it was sometimes used in ancient medicine, often to treat ailments such as depression, gout, epilepsy, tremors, and even demonic possession. Perhaps Alexander was prescribed white hellebore as a treatment for his own depression following Hephaistion’s death. What bothers me, however, is that when taking the plant medicinally, patients where strongly cautioned not to drink wine for at least three days leading up to treatment. As stated earlier, Alexander was drinking in excess just before collapsing with stomach pains. This leads me to believe that if hellebore was used, it was slipped into his wine at the banquet where he fell ill. It would not have taken much to affect him. Maybe he was given even more hellebore in order to cure him and his doctors unknowingly overdosed him. This is the theory I used for a short story I wrote in college for a historical project called Killing Alexander.

Whatever the case may be, Alexander the Great died in Babylon on 10 June 323 BC and his lengthy empire, which stretched thousands of miles from Europe deep into Asia, was split into pieces. The king had left no heirs, only his pregnant wife Roxana and an unstable half brother named Philip Arrhidaeus. When at last Roxana gave birth to a son, Alexander was already cold in his tomb in Alexandria, Egypt, where his general Ptolemy has buried him and established a dynasty in Egypt that would later end with Cleopatra. Philip Arrhidaeus was murdered on orders of Alexander’s power-hungry mother Olympias, who was later executed, and before he could exercise full power over the empire, Alexander’s son was murdered by another of his father’s generals, Cassander, along with Roxana. This time period is called the War of the Successors, which resulted in the vast territory being cut into pieces as the generals fought each other for full control over a former empire that would later be overtaken by Rome. Alexander’s tomb became a popular destination for pilgrims who sought to kneel at his coffin and pray, including Octavian Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome. Later, the tomb was lost and part of the city of Alexandra was lost to the sea, leaving no trace of the last resting place of the man once known as the greatest conqueror in the ancient world.

Watch the video: Το Υπερόπλο Του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου


  1. Bitanig

    the excellent answer

  2. Gianni

    Agree, very useful thought

  3. Williamon

    Very wonderful topic

  4. Teon

    the Relevant point of view, it is funny ...

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