Alexander the Great
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2003

Astro-Rayological Interpretation & Charts
Images and Physiognomic Interpretation

to Volume 3 Table of Contents


Alexander the Great
Conqueror and King of Macedonia

Born July 22, 356 BC, Pella, Macedonia, between 10 and 12 PM. (Source, Marc Penfield, who cites Die Astrologie, June 1927). Time used, 11 PM. Suggested rectification 11:04:08 PM.

The chart must be considered speculative, but well supported by evidence from transits, progressions and directions. Died, June 13, 323 BC, Babylon.

Possible consideration based on Sabian Symbols

(Proposed Ascendant, Aries with Pluto in Aries conjunct the Ascendant; Sun conjunct Venus in Cancer with Mercury also in Cancer; Moon in Scorpio Mars in Gemini; Jupiter in Virgo; Saturn in Taurus; Uranus in Capricorn conjunct the proposed MC in Capricorn; Neptune in Virgo. The Chiron position, probably very significant, cannot be given due to the lack of a sufficiently extensive Chiron ephemeris).

The name Alexander the Great is synonymous with war, conquest and towering ambition. The Tibetan infers that he may have been one of those rare expressions — i.e., “a pure ray type” — along with Julius Caesar, the Buddha, the Christ and Leonardo da Vinci (EP I 73). Alexander and Caesar were clearly on the first ray line, the Buddha and the Christ on the second, and Leonardo on the fourth. In the brief, thirty-three year life of Alexander, he forced his way into the imagination, not only of his own era, but of the following two millennia.

He was surely an extraordinary character—dramatic, merciless, magnanimous, terrifying, awe-inspiring, full of contradiction, unforgettable. Humanity, full of the sense of its own weakness, persistently admires the archetype of the invincible conqueror. Alexander came as close to fulfilling this archetype as any personage in recorded history, perhaps with the exception of Genghis Khan.

In colloquial speech we speak of a very ambitious person as one who is “out to conquer the world”. In the case of Alexander, this seemed literally true. A Macedonian, his obsessive military exploits took him to the east of the Hellenic states, where at length he became the conqueror of the entire Persian Empire.

Never content with the vast and ever-increasing scope of his conquests, he pressed on to subdue what are now Baluchistan, Southern Afghanistan and Iran, and finally large portions of northern India, where only a mutiny of his nearly exhausted armies prevented him from seeking still further lands and peoples to overcome. Alexander was a driven man, obsessed with the need to vanquish the then-known world, and even worlds beyond.

An explorer as well as a conqueror, he sought to prove his strength against the peoples of lands undreamt. He did not know who they were, but he had faith in his invincibility and his power to bend them to his will. Whether or not he sought to create a world empire is unknown, but for him, interestingly (and to his credit) conquest was never enough. It had to be followed by harmonization and attempted fusion. One can judge that the drive to create synthesis was, for him, an irresistible urge—no matter what the cost, to himself, his armies or to those over whom he repeatedly triumphed.

The Rays of Alexander the Great

The Ray of the Soul: There can be little doubt that Alexander was a first ray soul.

The Tibetan lists him in the company of those who, equally, must be considered first ray souls.  

“The sorry history of humanity has been one of kings and potentates, rulers and warriors, presidents and dictators—rising into power at the expense of their own or other nations. Conquerors come and go—Akbar, Genghis Khan, the Pharaohs, Alexander the Great, Caesar, Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, Napoleon, Hitler and Mussolini. These have all upset the rhythm of their times and have come to power through aggression and slaughter. (EXH 183-184)

Whether or not Alexander was a first ray monad, as well, must remain, for the moment, undecided. Although he was a figure famous to many (and infamous to some), it could not be said that he functioned in a manner definitely inspired by the high spiritual level of the monad, though the possibility remains. The Master of the Wisdom will know Alexander’s monadic ray; we human beings, who know much less, can only infer. Judging from the quality of Alexander’s life, as history has recorded it, the degree of his spirituality (if “spirituality” is defined in relatively conventional terms) can be severely questioned, whereas the degree of his megalomania cannot.Yet, in relation to Alexander, Julius Caesar, the Buddha, the Christ and Leonardo, the Tibetan offers the suggestion that he could be considered an example of a “pure ray type”.

Given the choice between types of major, or primary, monadic rays (the first, second and third), it is hard to believe that Alexander could have been anything other than a first ray monad. As for the various subrays, and other qualifiers on the monadic, triadal and egoic levels, we are as yet in no position to judge with accuracy.

The astrological chart chosen for Alexander is speculative but has much to recommend it. It differs significantly (in date, time and even in year) from other speculative charts (as might be expected with so ancient a chart), though most accounts place his birth in July, in the year 356 BC. The time for the chart used is suggested (by Marc Penfield) as between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM in Pella, Macedonia, in the year 356 BC.

An average time of 11:00 AM is selected. Selection in this manner could seem a very crude and arbitrary process, indeed, and one unlikely to yield any degree of accuracy, yet surprisingly, the hour of 11:00 AM may be very close to the correct time of birth. Coincidentally (if it is a coincidence) the symbol for the 19th degree of Aries rising is “The Magic Carpet of Oriental Imagery. We have very little to do to imagine the idea of the ‘Persian Carpet’, as we remember Alexander’s great and continuous movement to the East as the conqueror of the entire Persian Empire.

If we move the birth time forward a mere four minutes and eight seconds, we would find the beginning of the twenty-first degree of Aries rising—a degree entitled “A PUGILIST ENTERS THE RING, “The release and glorification of social aggressiveness, a keyword for which, in Dane Rudhyar’s opinion is “OVERWHELMING POWER.

Suffice it to say that such a symbol would be most apt for the life and character of Alexander, one of the most ruthless and invincible conquerors of recorded history.

Whichever of these two rising degree we choose to use, charts calculated for 11:00 AM, or 11:04:08+ (or some time in between, such as 11:01 AM or 11:01:30 AM) prove convincing in a number of ways which shall be demonstrated. The charts for 11:01 to 11:04 AM, however, suffer from the Ascendant’s association with Sabian Symbols that seem inappropriate.

These Aries Rising charts also demonstrate the presence of a most powerful, astrologically-based first ray through which the ray of the soul (or monad) could manifest. Aries, the principal astrological sign/constellation, through which the first ray manifests most forcefully is, significantly, the Ascendant (with Leo and, consequently, the Sun as the decanate ruler in the 11:00 AM chart). If the 11:04:08+ chart is more correct, then, according to the Tibetan, Mars is the decanate ruler, which is certainly justifiable.

The first ray is dramatically accentuated by the presence of Pluto, planet of death and destruction, rising in Aries—whether in the first or twelfth house, it makes no difference, so close is Pluto the Ascendant. First ray Pluto (regardless of the exact degree of the proposed Aries Ascendant) is placed in the Leo decanate of Aries, reinforcing, thereby, the powerful presence of the first ray, for Leo is partially a first ray sign/constellation.

There is an astrological triangle known as Aries-Pluto-Shamballa. Pluto is, indeed, intimately connected with first ray Aries and with Shamballa (the main source on our planet of the First “Ray of Will or Power”). Alexander (if he could be called a disciple) would reasonably, along with certain others, be called a disciple of Shamballa:

“The men who inspired the initiating French revolution; the great conqueror, Napoleon; Bismarck, the creator of a nation; Mussolini, the regenerator of his people; Hitler who lifted a distressed people upon his shoulders; Lenin, the idealist, Stalin and Franco are all expressions of the Shamballa force and of certain little understood energies. (EXH 133)

That those who represent and express Shamballa do not always have a positive effect upon humanity, can be seen by considering the relative moral merits of the individuals mentioned above.

By considering the conjoining of Aries and Pluto at the Ascendant, we can see what a powerful conduit existed in Alexander’s astrological chart for the “Ray of the Destroyer”. His relentlessness, ruthlessness, mercilessness (at times) and apparent invincibility are thereby explained—at least astrologically. He would allow nothing to stand in the way of his conquests. Those who resisted were annihilated.

Those who accepted his domination were (paradoxically, in the eyes of many) treated with respect and an unusual degree of what can only be described as generosity and civility. Often, he seemed to treat them as the equals of his conquering Macedonians.

The first ray is also represented by first ray Uranus (i.e., monadically first ray) in first ray Capricorn at the MC (a position on the astrological angles or “cross” which is closely associated with the first ray). Alexander was powerfully Uranian in his nature (unpredictable, reorganizational, ‘establishmental’).

He was a potent restructuring force in the Hellenic World and the Asiatic empires he conquered. Aries, the sign of the new, is also a conduit for the seventh ray of manifestation—of which Uranus is also a transmitter. It is said by one of his biographers that Alexander inaugurated (Aries) about 70 new cities. 

Aries, it will be remembered, is hierarchically ruled by the planet, Uranus—especially in the case of initiates. It is difficult to judge Alexander as a true initiate, so it will be wise to pause before deciding that Uranus can be considered effective as a hierarchical ruler of the proposed Ascendant in his chart.

As an elevated planet conjunct the MC, Uranus was, however, definitely effective. Placed in the sign Capricorn (a major sign of manifestation and anchoring) we can see why he was able to inaugurate and establish these cities, and, in general, to institute his inspirations. Not only was Uranus conjunct the MC but rather closely parallel to it as well (parallels of declination).

At a certain point in his career Alexander became convinced that he was a “god”, which, if true, would indicate a spiritual status far above and beyond that of an initiate. As his life continued, he insisted that others treat him as divine, complete with all the obsequies due a deity. In truth, he was no more a “god” than any other human being (who, as a monad, is, indeed, a “god), and the probability is, that he was no high initiate, but rather an extremely powerful, versatile, talented personality who appropriated the first ray of his soul in manifestly destructive ways.

Whether he was an “initiate of the threshold (i.e., an initiate of the first or second degree) can be debated.

There can be little doubt that he was an individual of great courage and intelligence and, on occasion, of heart, but he loomed too large in his own importance to be called a true initiate.

Further, through repeated and prolonged “drinking-bouts (in one of which, enraged by drink, he murdered a military comrade he otherwise valued highly), he demonstrated that he was far indeed from achieving emotional control—a characteristic of those who have achieved the second degree.

The Ray of the Personality: When considering a hypothesis for the personality ray, the fourth ray of “Harmony through Conflict”, which is, in certain respects, very much the ray of the warrior, seems a strong possibility. Alexander was not a consistent character by any means. There are a number of well-documented sudden and dramatic reversals of attitude in his life. He was often remorseful over his excesses and, for a great conqueror, apologetic and full of regretful grief. It seems he had all the adolescence of character typical of an inflamed (Aries) fourth ray type, and was the victim, as well, of the self-celebratory narcissism typical of those upon that ray (and influenced strongly by that sign).

It was always difficult to predict what Alexander would do, a fact which may have contributed much to his continue successes over ‘enemies’. He was quick to anger, but suddenly generous and forgiving as well. He would take tremendous risks (both to himself and his men), but was, on other occasions, extremely cautious or wisely flexible in situations which demanded it. As a general he has a certain spontaneous adaptability and improvisatory quality typical of the fourth ray.

He was given to fourth ray excesses of character—at times utterly unrestrained, undisciplined—Dionysian in the extreme; at other times, he was the strictest of disciplinarians. Such inconsistencies are typical of the fourth ray.

His treatment of (cooperative) conquered enemies was typically fourth ray in nature, for he sought harmony with all compliant, subjugated peoples by restoring to them many, if not all, of their former privileges, which, as their conqueror, he could easily have retained for himself and his Macedonian armies. Once he was well-established as the conqueror of Persia, he treated Persian culture as the equal of Macedonian culture and traditions, and many subservient Persian rulers as the equals of his Macedonian and Greek comrades in arms. In a way, he adored Persian culture (adopting its customs and trappings) and was judged (by his disgruntled Macedonian soldiers) to elevate it far beyond its true worth. He sought a broad-scale harmony between Persians, Macedonians and Greeks, and encouraged his men to take Macedonian brides; he even paid them to do so.

He, himself, took a Persian bride—a daughter of the Persian emperor, Darius.

He deliberately became the harmonizer of his conquered lands and peoples, envisioning himself grandly as a supremely tolerant, benevolent ruler. His method was so often—first severe conflict and conquest, followed by the promotion of a pervasive harmony entirely in contrast with the furious conflict he had precipitated.

This is behavior typical of the interplay between the first and fourth rays, especially when aggravated by the fiery impulses of Aries and modified by the personal sensitivity of Cancer.

Two of the three signs/constellations which serve as conduits for the fourth ray, are tenanted in Alexander’s chart—Saturn, the ruler of the MC, placed in fourth ray Taurus, and the fourth ray Moon placed in the very first degree of fourth ray Scorpio.  This Moon position is powerful indeed, and a good argument for speculatively delaying the time of Alexander’s birth until approximately 11:00 AM, when the Moon entered destructive, war-like Scorpio.

Fourth ray Mercury, the esoteric ruler of the Aries Ascendant is placed in the fourth sign, Cancer, and is widely trine to the fourth ray Scorpio Moon. If 21º of Aries is rising (the apt symbol for which is, “A Pugilist Enters the Ring”), then Sagittarius, which, with Taurus and Scorpio, is a distributor of the fourth ray, is the sub-ruler of the decanate of the Rising Sign.

Alexander’s Sun Sign (like that of Julius Caesar’s) is, both tropically and sidereally considered, Cancer—not a sign which one would normally associate with a conqueror, for this sign often produces in men a rather effeminate psychology.

Both Alexander and Caesar are reputed to have had a number of homosexual liaisons. Caesar, for instance, notorious for his sexual excesses, was known as “every woman’s husband and every man’s wife, and Alexander, though he married a number of women, had a male “best friend, Hephaestion, who was almost certainly, so some affirm, his lover. Sexual ambiguity is often associated with the artistic fourth ray.

A study of history will reveal that Alexander was closely tied to his mother, for whose sake he became temporarily estranged from and hostile to his father, Philip II of Macedonia, when Philip took yet another wife.

The attitude of obsessive conquest so dramatically evidenced by Alexander can be interpreted as a huge over-compensation for the passivity and effeminacy of his Cancerian nature. The one most driven to conquer is, from the psychological perspective, often the one most fearful of being conquered—in this case by the mother force. It is interesting that in one of the most convincing astrological charts for Genghis Khan, there is to be found a fourth house Cancer Moon and, as history tells the story, the great Khan both feared and respected his mother, who was the only person who seemed to have power over him.

Bismarck, the “Iron Chancellor, is said to have been “ruled by his wife.

That Cancer is the fourth sign of the zodiac is significant. Its orthodox ruler is the fourth ray Moon, strengthened in its fourth ray nature by being placed in fourth ray Scorpio. Since Ascending Aries is esoterically ruled by fourth ray Mercury, which is trine to the fourth ray Scorpio Moon, the fourth ray is potently accented—especially in its conflict side (because two Martian signs are strongly involved).

The orthodox ruler of the Ascendant is Mars, placed in Gemini, the sign over which fourth ray Mercury orthodoxly rules. Mars in Gemini is also significant for a battle between the pairs of opposites, and would contribute to the fact that Alexander’s facile, intelligent mind was a great instrument of war. This position of Mars would promote a conflict within his own nature which aggravated his already warlike tendencies.

The harmony side of the fourth ray is accentuated by the presence of affiliative, unitive Juno rising (albeit in aggressive Aries, making it the ‘initiator of marriages’). Further, the Vertex (the ‘point of fate’) is placed in compromising Libra. Most significantly perhaps, the orthodox ruler of fourth ray Taurus and of compromising Libra is Venus which is found in the fourth sign, Cancer, conjuncted to the Cancerian Sun.

Venus would add to Alexander’s effeminacy as well as to his charm and popularity. It would contribute to making him the “best of friends”. Other factors—Pluto rising in Aries and the Scorpio Moon would make him the “worst of enemies”.

The Ray of the Lower Mind: From the records that exist, it is difficult to assess the ray of Alexander’s lower mind. Certainly he could be decisive and authoritative, thus demonstrating the first ray. He could also be colorful and ironic—qualities characteristic of the fourth ray.

What is perhaps less known is that he had an active scientific and explorational interest, and was fascinated with the acquisition of new knowledge. Mars, as orthodox ruler of the Aries Ascendant, is in curious Gemini and quite close to the Placidus cusp of the third house of lower mind.

As well, Mars and Mercury are only one minute of arc away from an exact parallel.

It would be difficult (and perhaps lethal) to argue with Alexander. The Mars/Mercury parallel can be read in much the same way as Mars in Gemini and makes for an incisive, aggressively curious, mobile mind. Further, Mercury, the orthodox dispositor of Mars is found in the third house of the chart, in Cancer, a sign that emphasizes the third ray of mind. This Mercury is opposed within one degree to the elevated, scientific Uranus, giving the mind a definitely experimental and exploratory tinge.

The Mercury/Uranus opposition, involving the third and ninth houses, emphasizes the possibility of a fifth ray component to the mind. The fifth ray would not necessarily be “good in the field” of battle because it is so deliberate, weighing up the facts, but it seems characteristic of Alexander’s curiosity about the peoples and places he conquered. Interestingly, this was true of Napoleon, who, in the speculations of some, was the reincarnation of Alexander.

The Ray of the Astral Body: There seems little doubt that Alexander was possessed of (or by) a sixth ray astral body. He was the exponent of a Pan-Hellenic idealism and sought to bring Greek Culture to the then-known world.

The great irony (characteristic of one for whom the fourth ray was so strong) was that he became the devotee of oriental culture, and in one of his characteristic reversals, sought then to impose Persian/Oriental culture not only on himself, personally, but on his Macedonian soldiers. In true fourth ray fashion, it seems he could not tolerate being only one thing or another, but had to be both.

A strong conduit of the sixth ray of idealism is the square, within one degree, between sixth ray Mars and sixth ray Neptune (placed in Virgo, a sign which partially distributes the sixth ray). Alexander’s devotions (as with almost every characteristic of his life) were excessive.

When his best friend Hephaestion, died in 324 BC, just a year before Alexander’s own death, he engaged in the most extravagant mourning (born both of his devotion and flamboyant character), building a funeral pyre in Babylon which cost 10,000 talents (a huge sum and more than a king’s ransom).

It should be noted, in terms of parallels of declination, that sixth ray Neptune is parallel within less than a degree to the Ascendant. These Neptune positions establish Alexander as a visionary—and, as one who could be judged as an alcoholic.

Further indications of the presence of the sixth ray are as follows: Jupiter is placed in sixth ray Virgo, giving further weight to the power of the sixth ray. Two asteroids, devoted Vesta and nurturing Ceres, are placed in sixth ray Pisces, and in the twelfth house which is resonant to both Pisces and the sixth ray. Ceres, exactly trine to the Sun and closely trine to Venus, would add to the maternal, care-taking quality. When the family of the Persian Emperor Darius, was captured, they were treated with unaccustomed chivalry and entertained in an almost luxurious captivity, at great expense to Alexander.

Clearly, there were softer, more generous and noble aspects to his character. The opposite was also true, as a number of seemingly close friends and companions discovered The impulsive, subconscious Moon is placed in Scorpio, the sign of death, and in square to the nodal axis (the nodes indicating the place where people both come into the life and depart from it). Alexander, for all his flamboyance and apparent magnanimity, was inherently suspicious (Moon in Scorpio), and to lose his trust was to lose one’s life.

The Ray of the Physical Body: This ray cannot reliably be determined. Alexander loved beauty of form (as his Venus conjunct the Sun would suggest). His likeness was rendered more than once (in a manner no doubt flattering) by a famous sculptor of the day. But, as well, he was given to the most robust physical exertions, and could be, it seemed, indefatigable.

The first ray, from whichever source—from the soul or astrologically mediated—clearly had a great influence upon his physical nature, though legend reports that he was lithe and supple rather than stiff as the first ray so often inclines the body to be.

It must be noted that the seventh ray, whether or not it was the ray of the physical body, was astrologically important in the life. The three signs/constellations that distribute the seventh ray are all tenanted.

Aries is at the Ascendant and holds Pluto; Cancer holds the Sun and Venus; and Capricorn is at the MC and holds Uranus. It was Alexander’s wish to set his conquests in good, well-harmonized form, as the Sun/Venus conjunction in the fourth house of establishment would indicate.

Unfortunately or fortunately, the impatient Aries Ascendant, with all three of its rules either in conjunction, parallel or both to the MC/IC, made him far too restless to ever properly consolidate his gains. He was always moving on towards greater and greater achievements until, at length, only the weariness of his soldiers stopped him in India. One wonders whether Alexander was following a path to his metaphysical ‘home’ in the East.

Certain Astrological Indications

That Alexander was one of the most successful military generals of recorded history may be attributable to the experience of many lives, but there are also horoscopic reinforcements the contributed to this success. Protective Jupiter in Virgo is closely sextile to the Sun/Venus conjunction, and thus, closely trine to the heliocentric position of the Earth.

The Part of Fortune (the place where energy between the Sun and the Moon ‘flows’ unobstructedly, and thus, contributes to happiness and success) is closely conjunct the MC (the career point), indicating elevation. The Part of Fortune is trine to Neptune (giving success through imagination and intuition), and also conjunct Uranus, giving unexpected successes ingeniously won.

The Uranus/MC conjunction is reinforced by a parallel between the MC and Uranus (Uranus being the planet of greatest declination, and thus powerful). In so many ways, Alexander “broke the mould”. He was a unique leader—and dictator (another quality of willful Uranus).

Further contributing to his success was stabilizing Saturn in Taurus, trine to both Neptune and Jupiter in Virgo, and especially trine the midpoint of Jupiter and Neptune.

Though extravagant in his expenditures (and inflated in many respects, as the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction would indicate), he was in other ways a financial conservative and was scrupulous in the collecting of revenues through the taxation of subjugated kingdoms and peoples (Moon in Scorpio, relating to the resources of others). Thus a balance was struck, and, indeed, he was sensible enough to ensure that he could afford his occasional extravagances.

Three planets can be seen as involved with the Part of Fortune—Uranus (conjunct) Neptune (trine) and Saturn (widely trine). We note that these are the three synthesizing planets. Alexander had at his disposal great and determining energies and he used them to advance his “fortunes in the world”.

We also note that the extremely close parallel of declination between mobile Mercury and restless Mars, account not only for an agile and enquiring mind, but (since they are, as well, closely parallel the IC) for a driving urge to be “on the move”.To this, an Aries Ascendant would naturally contribute, and we remember that Mars in Mercury are, respectively, the orthodox and esoteric rulers of Aries.

The hierarchical ruler of Aries, Uranus (another planet of mobility), is also involved in this configuration being acceptably contraparallel to both Mars and Mercury, and also to the IC. These indications reinforce the importance in the life of relentless Aries.

It is interesting to realize that Alexander the Great was, as well as a great general, a great founder of cities—foremost among which was Alexandria. In fact a number of the cities he founded were based upon his name—Alexander, such was his growing megalomania. The powerful seventh ray contributed to this urge-to-civic-establishment. When we see the Sun in Cancer in its own house, the fourth, we understand that the Cancerian mantram, “I build a lighted house, and therein dwell”, operated powerfully in his life.

He destroyed cities, razing them to the ground (Aries); he built and re-built cities (Cancer). One can see that he was not animated thoroughly by the will-to-destroy, but quite significantly by the will-to-build, the will-to-establish and, of course, the will-to-harmonize.

We cannot be certain of the position of Vulcan in Alexander’s chart. It might have been in Cancer or Leo. If in Cancer, his ‘will-to-build’, would have been strengthened. If in Leo, yet another first ray planet would have been placed in a first ray sign, thus strengthening his already formidable will and autocratic behavior.

Esoteric Indications

It could easily be said that Alexander was not a spiritual person—but would this be true? Certainly he understood spirituality more in terms of Shamballa than Hierarchy (though he could not have known about these planetary centers or called them by the names we now do). Alexander’s vision of a Pan-Hellenic civilization, incorporating the best values of the East, was certainly grand in its conception. He was no unaccomplished individual.

His feats of destruction were immense, but so were his feats of construction. He was in fact both the conqueror and would-be reorganizer of the then-known world.

Esoterically, Pluto is closely associated with first ray Aries, and makes of Alexander the consummate ‘destroyer’. But he was also the regenerator—another quality of Pluto. He sought to benefit from the civilizations and cultures he conquered, and to see their best qualities widely distributed. Pluto at the Ascendant is countered by Uranus (the planet of ‘magical reconstruction and reorganization’) at the Capricorn MC. Uranus rebuilds what Pluto destroys.

The spirituality of Alexander (if we can reasonably credit its existence) would have to be interpreted in terms synthetic of Shamballic power rather than the gentler impulses of the Spiritual Hierarchy; he seems more the representative of the obliterative monad than of the preserving soul.In any case, the “monadic point” (always opposite the Sun) is also found in first ray/seventh ray Capricorn, the same sign which houses Uranus, the hierarchical ruler of the Aries Ascendant.

Mercury the esoteric ruler of the Aries Ascendant, closely connected to Mars via parallel of declination and through Mars’ placement in Gemini, speaks for the spread of learning and culture that Alexander advocated.

It is interesting that the principal city he founded—Alexandria—became one of the greatest repositories of learning in the ancient world.

So often world conquerors have come from the East in the attempt to overrun the West—Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, Tamerlaine. In this case, the direction was reversed, with a later (the fourth) subrace of the Fifth Root Race (namely the Celts—among whom the Greeks and Macedonians could be numbered) becoming the conquerors of an earlier subrace (the Persians, the Arabs and even of the residents of India, connected with the first subrace).

Some other Factors of Astrological Interest

There are number of hypothetical planets, to the reality of which more than a few competent astrologers attest. Should they be taken into consideration when assessing the character, psychological and spiritual potentials of an individual? Perhaps, in the interests of research, they should.

After all, the Tibetan speaks of over 115 planets in our solar system, as well as many asteroids, all of which have their various influences and effects.

The Trans-Neptunian planet Apollon is part of the conjunction of Jupiter and Neptune (quite close to Neptune), and accounts for the spread of influence associated with Alexander’s conquests and also with the spread of information which resulted from them. Hades (another Trans-Neptunian), bringer of death, disease, and destruction, is conjunct the Scorpio Moon adding to its lethal quality.

Jason (one of the Centaur planets) is closely conjunct to the proposed Descendant. Jason is associated with the quest for the Golden Fleece (and with all quests for that matter).

Alexander, through his conquests, was on a great quest. The question remains whether the objective was ever entirely clear to him. Other of the Centaurs are fairly close to the Ascendant and one of them is conjunct the Vertex. Alexander’s relationship to his horse, Bucephalus, became the well-renowned subject of legend.

If the Ascendant were in the twenty-first degree rather than in the nineteenth, then Sagittarius (the sign of both the horse and the Centaur) would be the zodiacal sub-ruler of the rising decanate.

It is interesting to see the undiscovered planets Isis and Osiris opposite each other with Isis closely opposed to Mars. This contributed to Alexander’s attempt to put back together that which, through conquest, he had taken apart.

Midas, the unknown planet of great wealth, is in Taurus (the sign of resources) closely conjunct to Saturn, also in Taurus. Through his victories, Alexander accumulated a huge treasury, which, despite his extravagances, he watched over scrupulously, insisting on its proper management and putting to death any guardian of the treasury whom he found to be dishonest.

Some Fixed Star Indications

There are a number of fixed stars associated with Alexander’s Scorpio Moon. Alpheratz is closely contraparallel, Mirfak is opposed, Scheat is closely contraparallel, and Toliman is conjunct. Alpheratz gives the urge for freedom and independence and a love of great speed; Mirfak is the young male warrior, proud of his strength and courage; Scheat is closely associated with free-thinkers who think fast and dare to think or do the impossible.

Toliman in the foot of the Centaur, is linked with learning, education and spiritual growth.It may also represent the sacral center of the great Being.

We can see how these particular stars, in relation to Alexander’s warlike Scorpio Moon, amplify certain well-known traits of his Character.

Venus is closely conjunct to the royal star, Regulus, showing how he could use his charm and charisma to enhance his power to rule. While there are many asteroid and fixed star contacts with significant areas of Alexander’s chart, and while these contacts would be most interesting to explore, to do so would be beyond our present scope, and, in any case, would more likely reveal exoteric detail, however interesting, rather than insight into the esoteric state of his soul.

Points of Interest Relative to Dynamic Factors in Alexander’s Chart

When dealing with a speculative chart, it is always necessary to study closely the dynamic factors of the proposed chart to see if the chart is justifiable.

At the age of fourteen, Alexander became the pupil of the great Aristotle (an arrangement which almost proved fatal for the great sage). We note that in April of 342 BC, Alexander’s progressed Mercury (planet of learning) enters the sign Leo, connected with the fifth ray and individualized mind. Mercury also represents the power to “think for oneself”, as Aristotle, intent on giving the young prince an excellent education, found out to his dismay. Significantly, there is a lunar eclipse on April 28th, involving the Scorpio Moon.

More significantly, transiting Saturn retrogrades to a long month station at one degree of Scorpio, on the eclipse point and conjunct the Moon. The sage, Aristotle (representing Saturn to Aristotle) was arriving. Aristotle tried to tame Alexander’s wild emotions (Saturn was on Alexander’s Moon), but, in the last analysis, failed.

As well in May of 342 BC there was a solar eclipse within three and a half degrees of Alexander’s Saturn—Saturn again. The emphasis was upon attempted discipline and instruction.

Let us examine some pertinent eclipses for the period. It is not possible to discover when, after Alexander was fourteen years old, Aristotle came to be his teacher, but the following eclipses involve the Moon, Saturn, and to a degree the Ascendant and the Descendant. The last eclipse, before his fifteenth birthday, is close enough to involve either of the proposed Ascendants (19º or 21º)

Mon     LEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Apr 28 0342 BC            13:59    02°Sc08' D      
Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    May 13 0342 BC           01:06    15°Ta57' D      
Mon     LEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Oct 22 0342 BC             01:29    23°Ar47' D      
Mon     LEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Apr 17 0341 BC            04:50    21°Li58' D       

When Alexander was 18 years old, in 338 BC, he became a military commander. Transiting Jupiter was crossing both his Aries Ascendant and Pluto. Significantly, Jupiter is natally placed in the sign Virgo, which has come to indicate the military service. Uranus directed by SA (solar arc) comes opposite the natal Sun, giving freedom, independence and the free expression of will—emphasizing the elevated Uranus natally on the MC—the indication of one who can do as he pleases.

In the beginning of 337 BC, there is a solar eclipse opposed the Sun in the fourth house, and conjunct to solar arc directed Uranus, emphasizing the theme of authority and independence.

Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Jan 20 0337 BC 07:44    25°Cp38' D      

At the age of 20, Alexander became King of Macedonia—we do not know the exact date. Saturn transiting in Capricorn was coming to the MC, conferring power, authority and, especially, great responsibility. Particularly important, and strongly indicative of the quite close accuracy of the chosen Aries Ascendant charts is the conjoining of the progressed Ascendant with both natal and progressed Saturn.

This conjunction reinforces the testimony of transiting Saturn at the MC.

We must remember that Alexander came to power at the death (the murder) of his father, Philip II of Macedonia. Saturn is traditionally the indicator for the father, and the double Saturn emphasis reinforces the connection between ascension to power and the condition of the father.

At approximately the time of his birthday in 336 BC we see solar-arc directed Chiron crossing the Ascendant of the 11:00 am chart. (When the date is unknown, the solar return chart for that year is chosen, for its indicative quality.)

A most interesting eclipse shortly before Alexander’s twentieth birthday indicates, from a fourth house perspective (the fourth house ruling one’s native country) the coming to power. There is a close solar eclipse at the IC. Alexander was now established as the king of Macedonia.

Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Jul 4 0336 BC   12:30    06°Cn30' D      

This eclipse falls exactly on his natal Mercury, which T-Jupiter is conjuncting. Mercury is the ruler, orthodoxly, of the third house of lower mind and the sixth house of practical service. Alexander had to have all his wits about him in this sudden situation.

Mercury is also the esoteric ruler of the Aries Ascendant (and is natally opposite the planet of suddenness, Uranus—which the eclipse opposed). He had to think fast due to the sudden death of his father and his ascension to the throne. Transiting Pluto is also reinforcing the MC or career point by Trine. Pluto is a planet of power, and by transit is also exactly trine the elevated Uranus.

Coinciding with his rise to power, the P-Moon moves into Leo, the sign of personal authority, and, incidentally, ‘kingship’. Alexander was assuming a new identity. It should be noticed that not only was the P-Moon changing sign, but the P-MC was either in the last degree of Capricorn (the summation of power) or, depending upon the chart used, in the very inception of Aquarius. Perhaps the last degree of Capricorn is more convincing, as it was after the death of his father that Alexander began to spread his military influence to the East in a manner reminiscent of the sign of spread and circulation, Aquarius.

Alexander’s benefit from the death of his father is indicated by transiting Pluto in trine to the MC, indicating the father. It is said that Alexander had nothing to do with his father’s death.

Indeed, he took revenge swiftly, ruthlessly eliminating all who were suspected of complicity in the assassination. When certain cities rebelled after the death of Phillip, Alexander put down the uprisings. When Illyria revolted on the false rumor that Alexander was dead, Alexander rushed south and sacked the city, sparing only the temples and the house of the poet, Pindar.

One can see here the contrast between the Aries and Cancer aspects of his chart. Under Aries he leapt into drastic and ruthless action, sparing none—except his Cancerian urge to preserve that which was sacred to the gods and his innate sensitivity (under Cancer and the fourth ray) led him to spare Pindar’s home.

It should be noted that by November of 335 BC (Alexander was 21) there is a powerful stellium of planets in Leo in the fifth house of personal authority. The progressed Sun and Moon are conjunct producing a progressed lunation in the fifteenth degree of Leo (the Sabian Symbol for which is “A PAGEANT WITH ITS SPECTACULAR FLOATS MOVES ALONG A STREET CROWDED WITH CHEERING PEOPLE”, and the Keynote of which is “The more or less sensational release of energies in a form dramatizing the unconscious aspirations of man’s primitive and instinctual nature”).

This progressed lunation was to set the tone for Alexander’s remaining years, and death came to him well before another lunation could be accomplished. P-Mercury was also an important part of this progressed Leo stellium, and was in the same degree only twelve minutes of arc from the progressed Sun and Moon.

The stamp of a dramatic and imperious authority was received. At the time of the progressed lunation, Jupiter had already moved by transit into Leo as well. Alexander’s authority was unopposed, and, essentially, he could do anything he wished.

By the time Alexander was 22, he was victor throughout all of Asia Minor. We note that T-Jupiter is conjunct his progressed Sun in Leo, indicating the continued growth of his Leonian personal power and authority.

In 332 after many conquests Alexander, in full command of Syria, entered Egypt and was acknowledged to be the son of Amon-Ra. This may have contributed to the growing conviction of his own divinity. At this time Uranus was square the MC and its own natal position, promoting a change in his own conception of his status. The P-Moon was close to Jupiter and P-Jupiter, contributing to the beginning of the psychological inflation which was to continue growing as his conquests mounted.

By the end of 332 BC T-Jupiter was also coming to the conjunction of his natal Scorpio Moon, reinforcing the inflation. During this period, there were also solar eclipses involving the Ascendant and Descendant, and thus involving his perception of his own identity relative to others.

Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Oct 16 0332 BC           19:31    19°Li03' D
Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Apr 11 0331 BC            12:55    16°Ar07' D

In the winter of 332 BC he founded the city of Alexandria, perhaps the greatest of all monuments to his name. We can see how the two eclipses above would contribute to this founding. In the earlier of the two charts, his progressed Sun is trine to his natal Ascendant, emphasizing identity, and the progressed Moon (signifying all that is established in form) is closely conjunct his natal Jupiter—indicating fulfilled embodiment.

In the year 330 there was a conspiracy against Alexander. T-Saturn was transiting his twelfth house of Karma and T-Uranus was transiting the Ascendant.

We also see SD Mars very close to his IC in the earlier of the two charts. The conspiracy was put down. Alexander, discovering that the son of one of his leading generals, Parmenion, was involved, had him put to death and the innocent Parmenion as well. Alexander’s men intensely disliked this despotic harshness as well as Alexander’s pretenses, as he assumed Persian dress (fourth ray personality and natal Venus conjunct the Sun).

It is clear that Alexander was undergoing a change of identity, of self-perception (coincident with the transiting of Uranus on his Ascendant).

Between the year, 328 BC and 327, he attempted to impose the Persian court ceremonial, involving prostration (proskynesis), on the Greeks and Macedonians too; but to them this custom, habitual for Persians entering the king's presence, implied an act of worship and was intolerable before a man. We note that there is a solar eclipse opposing the progressed MC, and thus on the progressed IC.

A lunar eclipse involves his Sun. These eclipses involve identity points.

Mon     LEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Jul 20 0328 BC              16:51    22°Cp05' D      
Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Aug 4 0328 BC             03:02    06°Le02' D

This practice was repudiated by those in his entourage. Macedonian laughter led to the discontinuation of this pretentious practice.

In 327 BC, Alexander fought his way into India, crossing the Hindu Kush. At the Hydaspes (the present-day Jhelum River) he met and defeated an army under Porus. He overran the Punjab, but there, in 326 BC, his men would go no farther. There was a mutiny and Alexander’s wishes to proceed further came to an end.

We see Alexander’s progressed Moon in Scorpio; Saturn is coming to its return position, and T-Pluto is beginning its conjunction of natal Saturn.

During January of 0327 there is a solar eclipse on this progressed MC. During July of the year 327 BC there was a solar eclipse closely conjunct his natal Sun in Cancer, foreshadowing the growing challenge to his authority.

Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Jan 28 0327 BC             20:51    04°Aq47' D      
Mon     LEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Jul 9 0327 BC               17:21    11°Cp18' D      
Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Jul 24 0327 BC              19:59    25°Cn50' D      
Mon     LEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Jan 3 0326 BC              16:31    09°Cn08' D      
Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Jun 15 0326 BC             01:13    17°Ge30' D      

Note how these eclipses involve Alexander’s nodal axis, his MC, his Sun and his IC.  By the Spring of 326 BC, he experienced his Saturn Return, followed by a square of transiting Saturn to his progressed Sun in Leo.

There was also a solar eclipse on his natal Mars (positioned at 15 + Gemini), perhaps descriptive of the mutiny (reacting against the tendency toward overexpansion signaled by Mars in Gemini).

His expansions into India were stopped. He had to turn back. Pluto had come to its conjunction of natal Saturn. This, along with the other adverse aspects, represented an insuperable challenge to his claim to unlimited authority. There was no way for him to proceed further.

Under the continuing influence of transiting Saturn square the progressed Sun and transiting Pluto, for long conjunct natal Saturn, Alexander suffered many reversals, and retrenchment was necessary. At one point he received a serious wound which weakened him considerably.

In spring 324 Alexander had returned to Susa, the administrative centre of the Persian Empire.

There is a story that he passed much of the journey through Carmania in drunken revel, dressed as Dionysus. This story may be an exaggeration, but is not dissimilar to the strange theatrical behavior of Nero, who also had Pluto rising (probably with Sagittarius rising) and who was also possessed of or by a fourth ray personality—though his soul ray may have been the sixth.

We note that during this period, Alexander was strongly under the influence of transiting Neptune trine his natal Sun—a planet already powerful in his chart through its square to natal Mars (orthodox ruler of the Ascendant) and its close parallel to the Ascendant.

This was a period in which Alexander, uniting the influences of his first ray soul and fourth ray personality, was attempting great racial fusions between the Macedonians and Greeks, on the one hand, and the Persians on the other. He and his best friend Hephaestion married Darius’ daughters, and 80 of his men took Persian wives. Of the 10,000 of his men who had previously taken Persian wives, all were given generous dowries.

Thus, Alexander continued to promote racial and cultural fusion and synthesis.

This policy of racial fusion brought increasing friction to Alexander's relations with his Macedonians, who had no sympathy for his changed concept of the empire. His determination to incorporate Persians on equal terms in the army and the administration of the provinces was, likewise, bitterly resented. Neptune is the planet of idealism and of fusion.

The strong influence of transiting Neptune during this period accounts for Alexander’s idealistic, and rather unrealistic attempt to fuse the Persians and Macedonians together in harmony, in one great empire. He was thwarted in his attempt during 324 BC with two solar eclipses in Taurus and Scorpio, respectively, squaring the position of his progressed Sun in Leo.

Further, transiting Pluto was conjunct his natal Saturn and transiting Saturn was conjunct natal Mars. Again he was thwarted, though transiting Jupiter, also conjunct natal Mars, allowed him to bring harmony out of the situation and pacify the rebellious Macedonians.

Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    May 23 0324 BC           07:31    26°Ta20' D
Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Nov 16 0324 BC           19:25    20°Sc36' D

In the autumn of 324 BC, with T-Pluto conjunct his natal Saturn and T-Uranus also conjunct natal Saturn, his best friend Hephaestion died. During this period there was also a solar eclipse squaring Alexander’s progressed Sun. Transiting Saturn was in the third house of brothers and siblings, and was opposed the progressed Moon in Sagittarius (ruler of the fourth house of intimates and family members).

From the time of Hephaestion’s death, Alexander demanded to be seen as a god. His progressed Moon had moved into Capricorn and was approaching the tenth house cusp. His status in his own estimation had reached its apotheosis.

Suddenly, in Babylon, while busy with plans to improve the irrigation of the Euphrates and to settle the coast of the Persian Gulf, Alexander was taken ill after a prolonged banquet and drinking bout; ten days later, on June 13, 323, he died in his thirty-third year; he had reigned for twelve years and eight months.

His body, diverted to Egypt by Ptolemy, the later king, was eventually placed in a golden coffin in Alexandria. Both in Egypt and elsewhere in the Greek cities he received divine honors.

The astrological indicators at the time of Alexander’s death are compelling. The progressed Moon had come to within one minute of arc of natal Uranus. His death was sudden and unexpected (Uranus).

It should be noted that the Moon is the orthodox ruler of the Cancerian Sun; Sun and Moon are intimately involved with health. The drinking bouts, in which he engaged with greater frequency as his life progressed, were an effect of the Mars/Neptune square.

We also notice SD Neptune at the seventh house cusp. Uranus was also involved by transit, conjunct to progressed Saturn.

We see, thus, Saturn, the progressed ruler of the MC (one’s status) transited by Uranus and natal Uranus (already conjunct the MC) conjuncted by the progressed Moon (the Moon representing the constitution of the individual). We also note P-Mars conjunct Mercury, ruler of the 6 house of health and, T-Mercury conjunct P-Mars and N-Mercury. The house of health was definitely implicated.

Further, Jupiter (which often brings the release of death) had come to the fourth house, which is traditional astrology represents the “end of life”.

The eclipses for the period of death are unusually potent in their indications.

Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Apr 12 0323 BC            23:26    17°Ar33' D      
Mon     LEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    Apr 28 0323 BC            12:07    02°Sc27' D      
Sun       SEcl                 (X)       Tr-Tr    May 12 0323 BC           10:40    15°Ta45' D

Note that there is an almost exact solar eclipse (within one degree) of Alexander’s Ascendant in Aries using the earlier chart. Such an eclipse is often fateful. Even if 20° + are rising, the eclipse would have to be considered effective.

The lunar eclipse of April 28th occurs within two degrees of Alexander’s natal Moon in Scorpio, and the solar eclipse of May 12th occurs within a few degrees of terminal Saturn, already implicated by a transit of Uranus.

Clearly a forceful array of inharmonious aspects and eclipses were in effect when Alexander died—apparently of his own excesses (indiscriminately ‘incorporative’ Cancer), probably compounded, according to some reports, by a fever.

On the day of his death, the transiting Moon (moving rapidly, of course) was also in the sign Cancer, the sign of his Sun, and perhaps very close to transiting Jupiter, the planet of release.

Transiting Neptune, another planet of release, was quite closely square the progressed Sun, and exactly inconjunct the transiting nodes, and its position was in the eighth house—the house of death. It is needless to say that Neptune is related to alcohol consumption, and that Mars (square Neptune in the natal chart) is related both to intemperance and to fevers.


It has been suggested that the disciples of Shamballa are difficult to understand; the prevailing bias of humanity rejects them for their apparently harsh and cruel ways. One must often evaluate their influence from a perspective somewhat distant from the immediacy of their lives, and in terms of larger processes of civilization and culture.

Could Alexander in any way be considered a disciple? Certainly he appeared egocentric, and at length, megalomaniacal—not traits usually found in one who serves the spiritual advancement of humanity. From a certain perspective, his life of obsessive conquest served no one but himself, contributing steadily to his insistent need for self-aggrandizement and self-glorification. Such a need is usually found only in one who is beset by deep personal insecurities (generated, it may reasonably be thought, by his Cancerian and Venusian qualities and the emotionally vigilant paranoia promoted by his Scorpio Moon)

On the other hand his military exploits, animated increasingly by a spirit of exploration, brought many benefits to the culture and civilization of the period. His own personal interest in scientific investigation (Uranus opposed to Mercury—both powerful planets in the chart) brought many advances in the knowledge of geography and natural history.

His will-to-explore was certainly promoted by his orthodoxly ruling planet, Mars, in the sign of enquiry, Gemini.

Operating, even if unconsciously, under the will-to-synthesize (a first ray impulsion strengthened by Aries with its absolutism), he created one world, united both culturally and economically, from Gibraltar to the Punjab. Trade and social intercourse in these regions were greatly enhanced.

Alexander’s life has to be evaluated in terms of Shamballic themes. He impacted greatly the civilization of his era paving the way for the world dominion of the Roman Empire and the spread of Christianity. Synthesis is destructive of a multitude of minor hegemonies.

Alexander was an irresistible cultural force. He was inspired by Hellenic ideals and the heroes and gods of Greece—Heracles, Achilles, Dionysis—figures which were often in his mind and with whom he, romantically (Mars square Neptune) compared himself. But in true fourth ray manner, he was surprising sensitive to the cultural values of his conquered ‘enemies’, and sought to befriend them, incorporating their values and traditions into his ever expanding world-empire, and to reconcile and harmonize these values with those of his own Macedonian/Greek culture.

If we understand the meaning of the sign Cancer in combination with the first ray, we will find Alexander to be psychologically incorporative. He sought not only to conquer, but to incorporate his conquests into his own glorified personhood—merging subdued kingdoms, empires and their subjects into “one body” within his larger god-like self.

When we think of the effect of Alexander’s life, the advanced Cancerian mantram, “The Whole is seen as One” becomes significant.

We find the many synthesized into the one, with one figure (himself) as the absolute monarch and guiding spirit of this forcefully achieved wholeness, synthesis, oneness. Of course, such an attitude reeks of extreme self-glorification—even self-deification—but one can hardly fail to recognize its foundational impulse as Shamballic—however distorted that impulse had become.

There is no question that, during the millions of years of human ‘progress’, war has been inevitable. Humanity, qualified by Scorpio and the fourth ray, is a warring kingdom on its way to an eventual peace and harmony. Alexander’s Ascendant and Moon are in Aries and Scorpio respectively—two signs governed by Mars (the “God of War”). To conquer was but to fulfill his destiny.

As humanity becomes more psychologically sophisticated, it will incline, increasingly, towards what might be called ‘the internalization of war’. Then, the spirit of conquest will no longer cause such great misery and hardship on the external plane of life, but the tremendously potent spirit of an Alexander or a Genghis Khan, will be turned towards the conquest of ‘internal enemies’—one’s own faults and vices—everything of a psychological nature which prevents true freedom of the spirit.

To contemplate the figure of Alexander (a man of iron will, relentless, yet flexible and adaptable, intelligent, imaginative, romantic, full of the sense of glory) is both inspiring and horrifying. From a distance one can marvel at his character, and yet be grateful that he lived in another time and not in the present age (apparently). While abhorring many of the outrageous specifics of his life, one can be filled with admiration for him as a psychological phenomenon—a testimony to what can be accomplished under the driving force of pure will. Will is neither good nor bad; its application will determine its value in any particular instance.

Most of us need far more will than we seem to have, though we would (so we think) never apply the will as Alexander did. That great reservoirs of will do, indeed, exist, and are accessible by the human being, Alexander’s short life has demonstrated. We can only imagine his achievement in the realm of soul and spirit, had this great and relentless will been turned inward—as no doubt it someday will be (or, over the course of the last almost 2400 years, has been). It is the nature of the spirit to know its essential greatness and to seek to recapture it. Perhaps, beneath all psychological compensations, “this was the motive of this fundamentally spirit-driven man.


Quotations Attributed to Alexander the Great

I am dying from the treatment of too many physicians.

In faith and hope the world will disagree, but all mankind's concern is charity.

I send you a kaffis of mustard seed, that you may taste and acknowledge the bitterness of my victory.

I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.

attributed: "I would rather live a short life of glory than a long one of obscurity”. or “It’s better to burn out than fade away”.

I do not separate people, as do the narrow-minded, into Greeks and barbarians. I am not interested in the origin or race of citizens. I only distinguish them on the basis of their virtue. For me each good foreigner is a Greek and each bad Greek is worse than a barbarian.

I will not steal a victory. The end and perfection of our victories is to avoid the vices and infirmities of those whom we subdue.

I am indebted to my father for living , but to my teacher for living well.

Do you not think it a matter worthy of lamentation that when there is such a vast multitude of them [worlds], we have not yet conquered one?


Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great's father, Philip, was the brother of King Perdiccas III of Macedon or Macedonia, in northern Greece. In 359 B.C., King Perdiccas died. His young son Amyntas was expected to succeed him, with Philip as his regent, but Philip usurped his nephew's throne, making himself King Philip II. He proved to be a strong ruler, and in a few decades he conquered most of Greece.

Philip's wife was Olympias, daughter of King Neoptolemus I of Epirus, which was located in what is now southern Albania and northwest Greece. Their son Alexander was born in 356 B.C. Alexander had a younger sister, Cleopatra (not the famous Egyptian queen).

Unfortunately for Alexander and Cleopatra, their parents hated each other. In keeping with Macedonian tradition, Philip had several lesser wives, and Olympias regarded these other women and their children with great animosity. When one of her rivals gave birth to a retarded son, Philip Arridaeus, it was rumored that Olympias had caused his disability with poison. Olympias told Alexander that Philip wasn't his real father, but this probably wasn't true. Philip certainly seems to have believed that Alexander was his son. He made sure the boy was well educated; the great philosopher Aristotle was one of Alexander's tutors. But Philip wasn't a particularly kind father. Alexander had a high-pitched voice, and Philip once told him that he should be embarrassed by it.

In his childhood or teens Alexander became friends with a handsome boy his age named Hephaestion. It is possible that they were lovers. Homosexuality was accepted in Greece at that time; Alexander's father had many male lovers. All that is known for sure is that Alexander and Hephaestion remained devoted to each other throughout their lives.

A Bold and Angry Prince

When Alexander was sixteen his father went away to war, leaving Alexander to serve as regent of Macedon. During Philip's absence Alexander led an expedition to a wild region of modern day Bulgaria, where he subdued rebellious barbarians and established his first city, Alexandropolis. After this triumph he became a general in his father's army. But things were tense between father and son. On one occasion Philip was injured by rioting soldiers. He fell to the ground and played dead while Alexander shielded him and fought off his attackers. Yet Philip never acknowledged that Alexander had saved his life, which Alexander resented.

Alexander was prone to temper tantrums. One of them took place at a feast held to celebrate his father's marriage to his final wife. The bride's uncle, Attalus, toasted the couple, saying that he hoped his niece would give birth to a legitimate heir to the throne. What about me? Am I a bastard? Alexander shouted, hurling his goblet at Attalus. Attalus threw his own goblet back and a general brawl ensued, during which Alexander and his father snarled at each other. History does not record what they said, but it was enough to enrage Philip. He pulled his sword, lunged at Alexander - and fell drunkenly to the floor. Look, men, Alexander sneered, he's about to cross from Europe to Asia, and he falls crossing from couch to couch. (Philip was planning to invade Asia Minor.)

After this incident Alexander and his mother left Macedon. Later they reconciled with Philip and returned home, but Alexander continued to mistrust his father. When Philip arranged for his retarded son Arridaeus to marry the daughter of a Persian satrap (governor), Alexander feared that this meant Philip intended to make Arridaeus his successor. In a panic Alexander secretly schemed to marry the satrap's daughter himself. Philip learned of the plot and placed Alexander under house arrest. He banished all of Alexander's friends, except Hephaestion, from the kingdom, and decided to divorce Olympias, who had encouraged the plot. He placated Olympias's brother, the king of Epirus, by giving him Cleopatra's hand in marriage, despite the fact that Cleopatra was the king's niece.

In celebration of this marriage a great festival was arranged. An opening ceremony was to be held in a theater. As Philip was entering the theater he was stabbed in the heart by the captain of his bodyguard, Pausanias. The assassin fled across a vineyard behind the theater, and might have gotten away if his foot had not been snagged by a vine. He fell and was killed at once by three of the king's bodyguards. Not surprisingly, many people suspected that Olympias and/or Alexander had played some part in Philip's death. Many historians believe Olympias and Alexander were innocent.

King and Conqueror
After his father's murder in 336 B.C. Alexander became King Alexander III. He had several rival claimants to the throne executed, including his cousin Amyntas, whose throne Philip had usurped. However, he spared the life of his retarded half-brother, Arridaeus. Olympias, too, rid herself of enemies. Philip's last bride had given birth to her second daughter, and Olympias is said to have had the child killed in the mother's presence before forcing the unhappy woman to hang herself.

Alexander became king when he was twenty years old. He was an exceptionally handsome man who set a fashion for the clean-shaven look. Although he was a heavy drinker, his health was excellent and he was very athletic. He enjoyed reading, music, and the theater. He was intensely loyal to his friends and the men he led. And he was, of course, a brilliant general.

Soon after taking the throne Alexander proceeded with Philip's planned war on Persia. In a few years he conquered most of Asia Minor. He was called Lord of Asia, a title he had chosen for himself.

Because Alexander wanted the Persians to accept him as their leader, he tried to treat them fairly. But his impulsiveness, caused by his bad temper and hard drinking, sometimes got in the way of his good intentions. According to one account Alexander decided to sack the Persian city of Persepolis after a courtesan suggested it at a drunken party. The city and its palace were reduced to rubble. The king of Persia, Darius III, fled from Persepolis and Alexander pursued him. Darius appealed to a satrap named Bessus for help, but Bessus and his allies killed Darius, possibly at Darius's request. Alexander brought Darius's body back to the ruins of Persepolis and gave him a grand funeral. Then he had Bessus hunted down, publicly flogged, and executed for Darius's murder.

Alexander's attempts to appease the Persians, along with his increasing power and ego, antagonized some of the men around him. The son of one of his most trusted generals became involved in a plot to assassinate him. Although the general had no part in the conspiracy, he was executed along with his son, which did not please Alexander's soldiers. The general's successor insulted Alexander at a party and Alexander killed him on the spot.

In 327 B.C. Alexander captured a group of rebels and fell in love with the chief's daughter, Roxane. They were married and Roxane soon became pregnant, but the child was stillborn. Due to his constant campaigns Alexander had little time to spend with his wife, and it was four years before she became pregnant again. After marrying Roxane, Alexander invaded India and conquered much territory there. Following one bloody battle (which his forces won) his men refused to go any further. Reluctantly Alexander agreed to turn back. He attacked many cities on the march home; during one battle he took an arrow in the chest and almost died.

In the winter of 325-324 he returned to Persia. Finding that several of his governors had abused their authority in his absence, he had them executed. To promote harmony between his people and the Persians he ordered eighty of his most important men to marry highborn Persian women in traditional Persian wedding ceremonies. He himself married King Darius's daughter, who was named either Barsine or Stateira (he was still married to Roxane). His best friend, Hephaestion, married Barsine's sister Drypetis. Alexander also began promoting Persians to high ranking positions in his army, saying that Persians and Macedonians should share the empire. His efforts to create unity failed; even the marriages between his men and the Persians mostly broke up after Alexander's death.

But Alexander was not forgotten in Persia. He was remembered as Sikander or Iskander and was called Dhul Quarayn, or the Two-Horned, possibly because he was once depicted on a coin wearing a helmet with horns.

In the fall of 324 Alexander's beloved friend Hephaestion died. Alexander was heartbroken. The following summer Alexander too became ill, and on June 13 he died in Babylon. He was 32. Modern historians have long suspected that he died from malaria, but recently it has been suggested that the culprit was typhoid fever.

The Diadochi
Roxane was pregnant when Alexander died. It is possible that Barsine was also pregnant, which may explain why Roxane dealt with Barsine so ruthlessly. After Alexander's death Roxane sent a letter to the Persian princess in Alexander's name, bidding Barsine to come at once to Babylon. When Barsine and her sister Drypetis arrived in Babylon, Roxane had them murdered and their bodies cast into a well. Roxane gave birth to a son, Alexander Aegus, who became King Alexander IV. Alexander the Great's retarded half brother, Arridaeus, was his nephew's co-king until Olympias had Arridaeus murdered. One of Alexander's generals, Perdiccas, was the kings' first regent.

The empire was soon torn apart by the power struggles of Alexander the Great's former advisors and generals, collectively called the Diadochi (Greek for successors). In 321 Perdiccas was killed by mutinous soldiers and replaced as regent by his rival Antipater. In 319 Antipater died and was succeeded as regent by Polyperchon, who was quickly ousted by Antipater's son Cassander.

Olympias had been opposed to Antipater's regency and she tried to oppose his son. In 317 she made herself regent, but Cassander overthrew her. His soldiers couldn't bring themselves to kill the mother of Alexander the Great, so Cassander turned Olympias over to some vengeful relatives of people she had murdered, and they executed the queen.

In time Roxane and her son were also killed by Cassander, who became the king of Macedon in 305 BC. Alexander Aegus was thirteen when he died. Nothing else is known about him.

Alexander the Great, who would become the Conqueror of the Ancient World, was born at Pella, Macedonia in 356 B.C.E. His father was King Phillip II and his mother was Olympias, a deeply spiritual woman who taught her son that he was a descendant of Achilles and Hercules. From the earliest age, then, Alexander was conditioned for conquest and kingly glory. He, thus, became focused on being a great ruler.

When he was 13, Alexander became student to the great Greek philosopher Aristotle. Under Aristotle’s tutorship he gained an interest in philosophy, medicine and science. However, Aristotle’s concept of small city-state government would not have gone down well with the young prince who was bent on world domination. Aristotle did, however, cultivate Alexander’s interest in reading and learning.

At age 16 Alexander was called to Macedonia to put down a Thracian rebellion while his father was away. Distinguishing himself immediately, Alexander quelled the rebellion, stormed the rebel’s stronghold and renamed it Alexandroupolis, after himself.

In 336 B.C.E. Phillip was assassinated and 20 year old Alexander took the throne of Macedonia. Within two years he had embarked on his campaign of conquest. His army of 30,000 foot soldiers and 5,000 cavalreymen was small but efficient. Along with the army he took engineers, surveyors, architects, scientists and even historians.

The first engagement was against the Persians at the Granicus River in modern day Turkey. Defeating the Persians he swept through western Asia Minor. The next Autumn the second major encounter against the Persians took place at Issus, in the south eastern corner of Asia Minor. Persian king Darius III had amassed an army of about half a million to wipe out the Greek threat. But the vicious and tactically superb attack mounted by Alexander routed the Persians, despite being outnumbered about 13 to 1.

Alexander now turned south, marching along the Mediterranean coast His only resistance came from the island city of Tyre. Alexander began a siege that would last for seven months. Finally Tyre was completely destroyed in July, 332 B.C.E.

Alexander now pushed further south, conquering Gaza and then moving into Egypt where the people welcomed him as a deliverer from their Persian rulers. Now Alexander turned north east, moving through Palestine towards the Tigris River. In 331 B.C.E. he met the Persians for the third time. The Battle of Gaugamela saw him defeat superior odds once more. Persian King Darius was later killed by his own people. Swiftly Alexander pushed through to take the Persian Capital at Babylon. He humiliated the Persians by burning their great palace at Xerxes. Before long the entire Persian domain was under Alexander’s control. He now crossed the Indus River and entered the region bordering the Persian province of Taxila. Here he met the feared Indian Monarch Porus who, with 25,000 men and 200 elephants nearly did what the entire Persian Kingdom could not. After fierce fighting, however, Alexander was once more victorious. Porus surrendered and became an ally.

After an eight year campaign Alexander was now ruler of a massive empire. He was keen to push further west but his men were weary and intent on returning to their families. Reluctantly he complied with their wishes.

Alexander was a caring military leader. He would visit his men after the battle, examining their wounds and praising them for their valiant efforts. He would also arrange extravagant funerals for the fallen. He would arrange games and contests for his men. The affection for their leader was what galvanized his troops.

Returning to Babylon Alexander assumed the role he had coveted for so long – The great Conqeuror. Eventually, however, he gave way to a licentious lifestyle of excessive drinking. He also gave way to fits of rage and paranoid suspicion. One night he even murdered his closest associate, Clitus, in a fit of rage. This act was to haunt for the remainder of his short life.

In June, 332 B.C.E Alexander fell victim to malarial fever. He never recovered. The man who no man could defeat died on June 13, 323 B.C.E. He was just 32 years and 8 months old.

Alexander the Great fighting the Persian king Darius (Pompeii mosaic, from a 3rd century BC original Greek painting, now lost).Alexander III (late July, 356 BC–June 10, 323 BC), commonly known in the West as Alexander the Great or Alexander of Macedon, in Greek (Megas Alexandros), King of Macedon (336 BC-323 BC), was one of the most successful military commanders of the ancient world. Alexander is known in some Eastern traditions such as Middle Persian literature as Alexander the Cursed due to his burning of the Persian capital and national library. He is also known as Alexander Dulkarnayim (Two-horned Alexander), because an image on coins minted during his rule seemed to depict him with the two ram's horns of the Egyptian god Ammon. This perception, however, was in error, as the image on the coin is a head of Heracles crowned by a lion's head, not horns.

Following the unification of the multiple city states of Ancient Greece under the rule of his father, Philip II of Macedon, (a labor Alexander had to repeat - twice - because the southern Greeks rebelled after Philip's death), Alexander conquered the Persian Empire, including Anatolia, Syria, Phoenicia, Gaza, Egypt, Bactria and Mesopotamia, and extended the boundaries of his own empire as far as the Punjab. Alexander integrated non-Greeks into his army and administration, leading some scholars to credit him with a “policy of fusion.” He encouraged marriage between Greeks and non-Greeks, and practiced it himself. This was extremely unusual for the ancient world. After twelve years of constant military campaigning, Alexander died, probably of malaria, typhoid or possibly a viral encephalitis. His conquests ushered in centuries of Greco-Macedonian settlement and rule over non-Greek areas, a period known as the Hellenistic Age. Alexander himself lived on in the history and myth of both Greek and non-Greek peoples. Already during his lifetime, and especially after his death, his exploits inspired a literary tradition in which he appears as a towering legendary hero in the tradition of Achilles.

Bust of Alexander III in the British Museum.Alexander was the son of King Philip II of Macedon and of Epirote princess Olympias. According to Plutarch (Alexander 3.1,3), Olympias was impregnated not by Philip, who was afraid of her and her affinity for sleeping in the company of snakes, but by Zeus. Plutarch (Alexander 2.2-3) relates that both Philip and Olympias dreamt of their son's future birth. Olympias dreamed of a loud burst of thunder and of lightning striking her womb. In Philip's dream, he sealed her womb with the seal of the lion. Alarmed by this, he consulted the seer Aristander of Telmessus, who determined that his wife was pregnant and that the child would have the character of a lion.

Aristotle was Alexander's tutor; he gave Alexander a thorough training in rhetoric and literature and stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy.

After his visit to the Oracle of Ammon at Siwah, according to all five of the extant historians (Arrian, Curtius, Diodorus, Justin, and Plutarch), rumors spread that the Oracle had revealed Alexander's father was Zeus, rather than Philip. According to Plutarch (Alexander 2.1), his father descended from Heracles through Caranus and his mother descended from Aeacus through Neoptolemus and Achilles.

The ascendance of Macedon
When Philip led an attack on Byzantium in 340 BC, Alexander, aged 16, was left in command of Macedonia. In 339 BC Philip divorced Alexander's mother, leading to a quarrel between Alexander and his father which threw into question Alexander's succession to the Macedonian throne. In 338 BC, Philip created The League of Corinth. Alexander also assisted his father at the decisive battle of Chaeronea in this year. The cavalry wing led by Alexander annihilated the Sacred Band of Thebes, an elite corps previously regarded as invincible.

In 336 BC, Philip was assassinated at the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra to King Alexander of Epirus. The assassin was supposedly a former lover of the king, the disgruntled young nobleman (Pausanias), who held a grudge against Philip because the king had ignored a complaint he had expressed. Philip's murder was once thought to have been planned with the knowledge and involvement of Alexander or Olympias. However, in recent years Alexander's involvement has been questioned and there is some reason to believe that it may have been instigated by Darius III Codomannus, the recently crowned King of Persia. Plutarch mentions an irate letter from Alexander to Darius, where Alexander blames Darius and Bagoas for his father's murder, stating that it was Darius who had been bragging to the rest of the Greek cities of how he managed to assassinate Philip.

After Philip's death, the army proclaimed Alexander, then aged 20, as the new king of Macedon. Greek cities like Athens and Thebes, which had pledged allegiance to Philip, were not quick to pledge the same allegiance to a 20-year-old boy. Alexander immediately ordered the execution of all of his potential rivals and marched south with his armies in a campaign to solidify control of Greece and confront the Persian Empire.

Period of conquests
Alexander's army crossed the Hellespont with about 40,000 Greek and Macedonian soldiers. After an initial victory against Persian forces at the Battle of Granicus, Alexander accepted the surrender of the Persian provincial capital and treasury of Sardis and proceeded down the Ionian coast. At Halicarnassus, Alexander successfully waged the first of many sieges, eventually forcing his opponents, the mercenary captain Memnon of Rhodes and the Persian satrap of Caria, Orontobates, to withdraw by sea. Alexander left Caria in the hands of Ada, the sister of Mausolus, whom Orontobates had deposed. From Halicarnassus, Alexander proceeded into mountainous Lycia and the Pamphylian plain, asserting control over all coastal cities and denying them to his enemy. From Pamphylia onward the coast held no major ports, so Alexander moved inland. At Pisidian Termessus Alexander humbled but did not storm the city. At the ancient Phrygian capital of Gordium, Alexander undid the tangled Gordian knot, a feat said to await the future king of Asia.

According to the most vivid story, Alexander proclaimed that it did not matter how the knot was undone, and hacked it apart with his sword. Another version claims that he did not use the sword, but actually figured out how to undo the knot. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to decide which story is correct.

Alexander battling Darius at the Battle of Issus, Pompei mosaic.Alexander's army crossed the Cilician Gates and met and defeated the main Persian army under the command of Darius III Codomannus at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC. Darius fled this battle in such a panic for his life that he left behind his wife, his children, his mother, and much of his personal treasure. Sisygambis, the queen mother, never forgave Darius for abandoning her. She disowned him and adopted Alexander as her son instead. Proceeding down the Mediterranean coast, he took Tyre and Gaza after famous sieges (see Siege of Tyre). Alexander passed near but probably did not visit Jerusalem.

In 332 BC-331 BC Alexander was welcomed as a liberator in Egypt and was pronounced the son of Zeus by Egyptian priests of the god Ammon at the Oracle of the god at the Siwa Oasis in the Libyan desert. He founded Alexandria in Egypt, which would become the prosperous capital of the Ptolemaic dynasty after his death. Leaving Egypt, Alexander marched eastward into Assyria (now Iraq) and defeated Darius and a third Persian army at the Battle of Gaugamela. Darius was forced to flee the field after his charioteer was killed, and Alexander chased him as far as Arbela. While Darius fled over the mountains to Ecbatana (modern Hamadan), Alexander marched to Babylon.

Statuette of a Greek soldier, from a 4th-3rd century BC burial site north of the Tian Shan, at the maximum extent of Alexander's advance in the East (Ürümqi, Xinjiang Museum, China) (drawing).From Babylon, Alexander went to Susa, one of the Achaemenid capitals, and captured its treasury. Sending the bulk of his army to Persepolis, the Persian capital, by the Royal Road, Alexander stormed and captured the Persian Gates (in the modern Zagros Mountains), then sprinted for Persepolis before its treasury could be looted. Alexander allowed the League forces to loot Persepolis, and he set fire to the royal palace of Xerxes, allegedly in revenge for the burning of the Athenian Acropolis during the Second Persian War. He then set off in pursuit of Darius, who was kidnapped, and then murdered by followers of Bessus, his Bactrian satrap and kinsman. Bessus then declared himself Darius' successor as Artaxerxes V and retreated into Central Asia to launch a guerrilla campaign against Alexander. With the death of Darius, Alexander declared the war of vengeance at an end, and released his Greek and other allies from service in the League campaign (although he allowed those that wished to re-enlist as mercenaries in his imperial army).

His three-year campaign against Bessus and his successor Spitamenes took him through Media, Parthia, Aria, Drangiana, Arachosia, Bactria, and Scythia. In the process he captured and refounded Herat and Samarkand, and he founded a series of new cities, all called Alexandria, including one near modern Kandahar in Afghanistan, and Alexandria Eschate (The Furthest) bordering today's Chinese Turkestan.

Hostility toward Alexander
During this time, Alexander adopted some elements of Persian dress and customs at his court, notably the custom of proskynesis, a symbolic kissing of the hand that Persians paid to their social superiors, but a practice of which the Greeks disapproved; the Greeks regarded the gesture as the preserve of deities, and believed that Alexander meant to deify himself by requiring it. This cost him much in the sympathies of many of his Greek countrymen. Here, too, a plot against his life was revealed, and his Companion and friend Philotas was executed for treason for failing to bring the plot to his attention. Although Philotas was convicted by the assembled Macedonian army, most historians consider this one of the king's greatest crimes, along with his order to assassinate his senior general Parmenion, Philotas' father. In a drunken quarrel at Macaranda Samarkand, he also killed the man who had saved his life at the Granicus, Clitus the Black. Later in the Central Asian campaign, a second plot against his life, this one by his own pages, was revealed, and his official historian, Callisthenes of Olynthus (who had fallen out of favor with the king by leading the opposition to his attempt to introduce proskynesis), was implicated on what most historians regard as trumped-up charges. However, the evidence is strong that Callisthenes, the teacher of the pages, must have been the one who persuaded them to assassinate the king.

The invasion of India
Obv: Alexander standing, being crowned by Nike, fully armed and holding Zeus' thunderbolt.
Rev: Greek rider, possibly Alexander, attacking an Indian battle-elephant, possibly fleeing Porus.With the death of Spitamenes and his marriage to Roxana (Roshanak in Bactrian) to cement his relations with his new Central Asian satrapies, in 326 BC Alexander was finally free to turn his attention to India. King Omphis, ruler of Taxila, surrendered the city to Alexander. Many people had fled to a high fortress called Aornos. Alexander took Aornos by storm (see Siege of Aornos). Alexander fought an epic battle against Porus, a ruler of a region in the Punjab in the Battle of Hydaspes (326 BC). After victory, Alexander made an alliance with Porus and appointed him as satrap of his own kingdom. Alexander continued on to conquer all the headwaters of the Indus River.

East of Porus' kingdom, near the Ganges River, was the powerful kingdom of Magadha. Exhausted and frightened by the prospect of facing another giant Indian army at the Ganges, his army mutinied at the Hyphasis (modern Beas), refusing to march further east. Alexander, after the meeting with his officer, Coenus, was convinced that it was better to return. Alexander was forced to turn south, conquering his way down the Indus to the Ocean. He sent much of his army to Carmania (modern southern Iran) with his general Craterus, and commissioned a fleet to explore the Persian Gulf shore under his admiral Nearchus, while he led the rest of his forces back to Persia by the southern route through the Gedrosia (present day Makran in southern Pakistan).

After India
Discovering that many of his satraps and military governors had misbehaved in his absence, Alexander executed a number of them as examples on his way to Susa. As a gesture of thanks, he paid off the debts of his soldiers, and announced that he would send those who were over-aged and the disabled veterans back to Macedonia under Craterus, but his troops misunderstood his intention and mutinied at the town of Opis, refusing to be sent away and bitterly criticizing his adoption of Persian customs and dress and the introduction of Persian officers and soldiers into Macedonian units. Alexander executed the ringleaders of the mutiny, but forgave the rank and file. In an attempt to craft a lasting harmony between his Macedonian and Persian subjects, he held a mass marriage of his senior officers to Persian and other noblewomen at Opis, but few of those marriages seem to have lasted much beyond a year.

His attempts to merge Persian culture with his Greek soldiers also included training a regiment of Persian boys in the ways of Macedonians. It is not certain that Alexander adopted the Persian royal title of shahanshah (great king or king of kings), but most historians think that he did.

After traveling to Ecbatana to retrieve the bulk of the Persian treasure, his closest friend and probable lover Hephaestion died of an illness. Alexander was distraught. He conducted a campaign of extermination against the Cosseans to assuage his grief. On his return to Babylon, he fell ill and died.

While invading the ancient city of Mali along the shore of India he received a nearly fatal wound from an arrow in his chest. Many historians argue if this was the cause of his death.

Alexander's marriages and sexuality
Alexander's greatest emotional attachment is generally considered to have been to his companion, cavalry commander (chiliarchos) and most probably lover, Hephaestion. They had most likely been best friends since childhood, for Hephaestion too received his education at the court of Alexander's father. Hephaestion makes his appearance in the histories at the point when Alexander reaches Troy. There the two friends made sacrifices at the shrines of the two heroes Achilles and Patroclus, Alexander honouring Achilles, and Hephaestion, Patroclus. As Aelian in his Varia Historia (12.7) claims, He thus intimated that he was the object of Alexander's love, as Patroclus was of Achilles.

Many discussed his ambiguous sexuality. Letter 24 of those ascribed to Diogenes of Sinope, thought to be written in either the 1st century or the 2nd century, and probably reflecting the gossip of Alexander's day, exhorts him: If you want to be beautiful and good (kalos k'agathos), throw away the rag you have on your head and come to us. But you won't be able to, for you are ruled by Hephaestion's thighs. And Curtius reports that He scorned [feminine] sensual pleasures to such an extent that his mother was anxious lest he be unable to beget offspring. To whet his appetite for the fairer sex, King Philip and Olympias brought in a high-priced Thessalian courtesan named Callixena.

Later in life, Alexander married several princesses of former Persian territories: Roxana of Bactria; Statira, daughter of Darius III; and Parysatis, daughter of Ochus. He fathered at least two children, Heracles born in 327 BC by his mistress Barsine, the daughter of satrap Artabazus of Phrygia, and Alexander IV of Macedon by Roxana in 323 BC. This would be in keeping with the ancient omnivorous approach to sexuality.

Curtius maintains that Alexander also took as a lover ... Bagoas, a eunuch exceptional in beauty and in the very flower of boyhood, with whom Darius was intimate and with whom Alexander would later be intimate, (VI.5.23). Bagoas is the only one who is actually named as the eromenos — the beloved — of Alexander. The word is not used even for Hephaestion. Their relationship seems to have been well known among the troops, as Plutarch recounts an episode (also mentioned by Athenaios and Dicaearchus) during some festivities on the way back from India, in which his men clamor for him to openly kiss the young man. Bagoas [...] sat down close by him, which so pleased the Macedonians, that they made loud acclamations for him to kiss Bagoas, and never stopped clapping their hands and shouting till Alexander put his arms round him and kissed him. (Plutarch, The Lives). At this point in time, the troops present were all survivors of the crossing of the desert. Bagoas must have endeared himself to them by his courage and fortitude during that harrowing episode. (This Bagoas should not be confused with Bagoas the former Persian Vizier, nor the Bagoas son of Pharnuches who became one of Alexander's trierarchs.) Whatever Alexander's relationship with Bagoas, it was no impediment to relations with his queen: six months after Alexander's death Roxana gave birth to his son and heir Alexander IV. Besides Bagoas, Curtius mentions yet another lover of Alexander, Euxenippos, whose youthful grace filled him with enthusiasm. (VII.9.19)

The suggestion that Alexander was homosexual or bisexual remains highly controversial and excites passions in some quarters in Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, and diasporas thereof. People of various national, ethnic and cultural origins regard him as a national hero. They argue that historical accounts describing Alexander's relations with Hephaestion and Bagoas as sexual were written centuries after the fact, and thus it can never be established what the 'real' relationship between Alexander and his male companions were. Others argue that the same can be said about all our information regarding Alexander. Such debates, however, are considered anachronistic by scholars of the period, who point out that the concept of homosexuality did not exist in Greco-Roman antiquity: sexual attraction between males was seen as a normal and universal part of human nature since it was believed that men were attracted to beauty, an attribute of the young, regardless of gender. If Alexander's love life was transgressive it was not for his love of beautiful youths but for his involvement with a man his own age, in a time when the standard model of male love was pederastic. See History of Homosexuality for more information.

It has been proposed that Alexander was also a cross-dresser, on the grounds that he was known to wear the silvery dress of Athena, which he received from priests at Troy. This idea, however, subsists upon a misunderstanding of dress, used in the sense of attire. In fact, it was Athena who was the cross-dresser, wearing armor when Greek women and other goddesses did not.

The army of Alexander was, for the most part, that of his father Philip. It was composed of light and heavy troops and some engineers, medical and staff units. About one third of the army was composed of his Greek allies from the Hellenic League.

The main infantry corps was the phalanx, composed of six regiments (taxies) numbering about 1,500 phalangites each. Each soldier had a long pike called a sarissa, which was up to 18 feet long, and a short sword. For protection the soldier wore a Phrygian-style helmet and a shield. Arrian mentions large shields (the aspis) but this is disputed; it is difficult to wield both a large pike and a large shield at the same time. Many modern historians claim the phalanx used a smaller shield, called a pelta, the shield used by peltasts. It is unclear whether the phalanx used body armor, but heavy body armor is mentioned in Arrian (1.28.7) and other ancient sources. Modern historians believe most of the phalangites did not wear heavy body armor at the time of Alexander.

Another important unit were the hypaspists (shield bearers), arranged into three battalions (lochoi) of 1,000 men each. One of the battalions was named the Agema and served as the King's bodyguards. Their armament is unknown; it is difficult to get a clear picture from ancient sources. Sometimes hypaspists are mentioned in the front line of the battle just between the phalanx and the heavy cavalry and seem to have acted as heavy infantry, but they also accompanied Alexander on flanking marches and were capable of fighting on rough terrain like light troops.

In addition to the units mentioned above, the army included some 6,000 Greek allied and mercenary hoplites, also arranged in phalanxes. They carried a shorter spear, a dora, which was six or seven feet long and a large aspis.

Alexander also had light infantry units composed of peltasts, psiloi and others. Peltasts are considered to be light infantry, although they had a helmet and a small shield and were heavier then the psiloi. The best peltasts were the Agrianians from Thrace.

The heavy cavalry included the Campanion cavalry, raised from the Macedonian nobility, and the Thessalian cavalry. The Companion cavalry (hetairoi, friends) was divided into eight squadrons called ile, 200 strong, except the Royal Squadron of 300. They were equipped with a 12-14 foot lance, the xyston, and heavy body armor. The horses were partially clad in armor as well. The riders did not carry shields. The organization of the Thessalian cavalry was similar to the Companion Cavalry, but they had a shorter spear and fought in a looser formation.

Of light cavalry, the prodomoi (runners) secured the wings of the army during battle and went on reconnaissance missions. Several hundred allied horse rounded out the cavalry, but were inferior to the rest.

On the afternoon of June 10-11, 323 BC, Alexander died of a mysterious illness in the palace of Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon. He was only 33 years old. Various theories have been proposed for the cause of his death which include poisoning by the sons of Antipater, murder by his wife Roxana [1], and sickness due to a relapse of malaria he had contracted in 336 BC.

The poisoning theory derives from the traditional story universally held in antiquity. Alexander, coming to Babylon, had at long last disaffected enough of his senior officers that they formed a coalition against him and murdered both him and Hephastation within a space of only a few months, intending on ending his increasingly unpopular policies of orientalism and ending any further military adventures. The original story stated that Aristotle, who'd recently seen his nephew executed by Alexander for treason, mixed the poison, that Cassander, son of Antipater, viceroy of Greece, brought it to Alexander in Babylon in a mule's hoof, and that Alexander's royal cupbearer, a son-in-law of Antipater, administered it. All had powerful motivations for seeing Alexander gone, and all were none the worse for it after his death.

However, many other scholars maintain that Alexander was not poisoned, but died of natural causes, malaria being the most popular. Various other theories have been advanced stating that the king may have died from other illnesses, as well, including the West Nile virus. These theories often cite the fact that Alexander's health had fallen to dangerously low levels after years of overdrinking and suffering several appalling wounds (including one in India that nearly claimed his life), and that it was only a matter of time before one sickness or another finally killed him.

Neither story is conclusive. Alexander's death has been reinterpreted many times over the centuries, and each generation offers a new take on it. What is certain is that Alexander died of a high fever in early June of 323 B.C. On his death bed, his marshals asked him who he bequethed his kingdom to - as Alexander had only one heir, it was a question of vital importance. He answered famously, The strongest. Before dying, his finals words were I foresee a great funeral contest over me. Alexander's 'funeral games', where his marshals fought it out over control of his empire, lasted for nearly forty years.

Alexander's death has been surrounded by as much controversy as many of the events of his life. Before long, accusations of foul play were being thrown about by his generals at one another, making it incredibly hard for a modern historian to sort out the propaganda and the half-truths from the actual events. No contemporary source can be fully trusted because of the incredible level of self-serving recording, and as a result what truly happened to Alexander the Great may never be known.

According to legend, Alexander was preserved in a clay vessel full of honey (which acts as a preservative) and interred in a glass coffin. According to Aelian (Varia Historia 12.64), Ptolemy stole the body and brought it to Alexandria, where it was on display until Late Antiquity. Its current whereabouts are unknown.

The so-called Alexander Sarcophagus, discovered near Sidon and now in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, is now generally thought to be that of Abdylonymus, whom Hephaestion appointed as the king of Sidon by Alexander's order. The sarcophagus depicts Alexander and his companions hunting and in battle with the Persians.

Legacy and division of the Empire

After Alexander's death his empire was divided among his officers, first mostly with the pretense of preserving a united kingdom, later with the explicit formation of rival monarchies and territorial states.

Ultimately, the conflict was settled after the Battle of Ipsus in Phrygia in 301 BC. Alexander's empire was divided at first into four major portions: Cassander ruled in Greece, Lysimachus in Thrace, Seleucus I Nicator (the winner) in Mesopotamia and Iran, and Ptolemy I in the Levant and Egypt. Antigonus I ruled for a while in Asia Minor and Syria, but was soon defeated by the other four generals. Control over Indian territory was short-lived, ending when Seleucus I was defeated by Chandragupta Maurya, the first Mauryan emperor.

Alexander's conquests also had long term cultural effects, with the flourishing of Hellenistic civilization throughout the Middle-East and Central Asia, and the development of Greco-Buddhist art in the Indian subcontinent.

Myths of Alexander's wife having murdered Alexander have been widely discussed and debated by historians. To date there is no evidence to support these claims.

Alexander's character
Modern opinion on Alexander has run the gamut from the idea that he believed he was on a divinely-inspired mission to unite the human race, to the view that he was the ancient world's equivalent of Napoleon I of France or Adolf Hitler, a megalomaniac bent on world domination. Such views tend to be anachronistic, however, and the sources allow a variety of interpretations. Much about Alexander's personality and aims remains enigmatic.

Alexander is remembered as a legendary hero in Europe and much of both Southwest Asia and Central Asia, where he is known as Iskander or Iskandar Zulkarnain. To Zoroastrians, on the other hand, he is remembered as the destroyer of their first great empire and as the leveller of Persepolis. Ancient sources are generally written with an agenda of either glorifying or denigrating the man, making it difficult to evaluate his actual character. Most refer to a growing instability and megalomania in the years following Gaugamela, but it has been suggested that this simply reflects the Greek stereotype of a Medizing king. The murder of his friend Cleitus, which Alexander deeply and immediately regretted, is often pointed to, as is his execution of Philotas and his general Parmenion for failure to pass along details of a plot against him, though this last may have been prudence rather than paranoia.

Modern Alexandrists continue to debate these same issues and others in modern times. One unresolved topic involves whether Alexander was actually attempting to better the world by his conquests, or whether his purpose was primarily to rule the world.

Partially in response to the ubiquity of positive portrayals of Alexander, an alternate character is sometimes presented which emphasizes some of Alexander's negative aspects. Some proponents of this view cite the destructions of Thebes, Tyre, Persepolis, and Gaza as examples of atrocities, and argue that Alexander preferred to fight rather than negotiate. It is further claimed, in response to the view that Alexander was generally tolerant of the cultures of those whom he conquered, that his attempts at cultural fusion were severely practical and that he never actually admired Persian art or culture. To this way of thinking, Alexander was, first and foremost, a general rather than a statesman.

Alexander's character also suffers from the interpretation of historians who themselves are subject to the bias and idealisms of their own time. Good examples are W. W. Tarn, who wrote during the late 19th century and early 20th century, and who saw Alexander in an extremely good light, and Peter Green, who wrote after World War II and for whom Alexander did little that was not inherently selfish or ambition-driven. Tarn wrote in an age where world conquest and warrior-heroes were acceptable, even encouraged, whereas Green wrote with the backdrop of the Holocaust and nuclear weapons. As a result, Alexander's character is skewed depending on which way the historian's own culture is, and further muddles the debate of who he truly was.

One undeniable characteristic of Alexander is that he was extremely pious and devout, and began every day with prayers and sacrifices. From his boyhood he believed one should not be parsimonious with the Gods.

According to one story, the philosopher Anaxarchus checked the vainglory of Alexander, when he aspired to the honours of divinity, by pointing to Alexander's wound, saying, See the blood of a mortal, not the ichor of a god. In another version Alexander himself pointed out the difference in response to a sycophantic soldier.

Alexander had a legendary horse named Bucephalus (meaning ox-headed), supposedly descended from the Mares of Diomedes. Alexander himself, while still a young boy, tamed this horse after experienced horse-trainers failed to do so.

Ancient sources
The ancient sources for Alexander's life are, from the perspective of ancient history, relatively numerous. Alexander himself left only a few inscriptions and some letter-fragments of dubious authenticity, but a large number of his contemporaries wrote full accounts. These included his court historian Callisthenes, his general Ptolemy, and a camp engineer Aristoboulus. Another early and influential account was penned by Cleitarchus. Unfortunately, these works were lost. Instead, the modern historian must rely on authors who used these and other early sources.

The five main accounts are by Arrian, Curtius, Plutarch, Diodorus, and Justin.

Anabasis Alexandri (The Campaigns of Alexander in Greek) by the Greek historian Arrian of Nicomedia;
Historiae Alexandri Magni, a biography of Alexander in ten books, of which the last eight survive, by the Roman historian Quintus Curtius Rufus;
Life of Alexander (see Parallel Lives) and two orations On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander the Great (see Plutarch: Other Works), by the Greek historian and biographer Plutarch of Chaeronea;
Bibliotheca historia (Library of world history), written in Greek by the Sicilian historian Diodorus Siculus, from which Book 17 relates the conquests of Alexander. The books immediately before and after, on Philip and Alexander's Successors, throw light on Alexander's reign.
The Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus by Junianus Justinus, which contains factual errors and is highly compressed.
Much is recounted incidentally in other authors, including Strabo, Athenaeus, Polyaenus, and others.

The problem of the sources is the main concern (and chief delight) of Alexander-historians. In effect, each presents a different Alexander, with details to suit. Arrian presents a flattering portrait, Curtius a darker one. Plutarch can't resist a good story, light or dark. All include a considerable level of fantasy, prompting Strabo (2.1.9) to remark, All who wrote about Alexander preferred the marvellous to the true. Nevertheless, the sources tell us much, and leave much to our interpretation and imagination.

Alexander's legend
Alexander was a legend in his own time. His court historian Callisthenes portrayed the sea in Cilicia as drawing back from him in proskynesis. Writing after Alexander's death, another participant, Onesicritus, went so far as to invent a tryst between Alexander and Thalestris, queen of the mythical Amazons. (When Onesicritus read this passage to his patron, Alexander's general and later King Lysimachus, Lysimachus quipped I wonder where I was at the time.)

In the first centuries after Alexander's death, probably in Alexandria, a quantity of the more legendary material coalesced into a text known as the Alexander Romance, later falsely ascribed to the historian Callisthenes and therefore known as Pseudo-Callisthenes. This text underwent numerous expansions and revisions throughout Antiquity and the Middle Ages, exhibiting a plasticity unseen in higher literary forms. Latin and Syriac translations were made in Late Antiquity. From these, versions were developed in all the major languages of Europe and the Middle East, including Armenian, Georgian, Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, Serbian, Slavonic, Romanian, Hungarian, German, English, Italian, and French. The Romance is regarded by most Western scholars as the source of the account of Alexander given in the Koran (Sura The Cave). It is the source of many incidents in Ferdowsi's Shahnama. A Mongol version is also extant.

Some believe that, excepting certain religious texts, it is the most widely-read work of pre-modern times.

Alexander's legend in non-Western sources
Alexander was often identified in Persian and Arabic-language sources as Dhû-'l Qarnayn, Arabic for The Horned One, possibly a reference to the appearance of the Hercules head that appears on coins minted during his rule. Islamic accounts of the Alexander legend, particularly in Persia combined the Pseudo-Callisthenes material with indigenous Sasanid Persian ideas about Alexander.

Pahlavi sources on the Alexander legend devised a mythical genealogy for him whereby his mother was a concubine of Darius II, making him the half-brother of the last Achaemenid shah, Darius III, probably in order to justify his domination of the old Persian Empire. Alexander is also blamed for ending the golden age of Zoroastrianism by seizing and destroying the original golden text of the Zend Avesta by throwing it into the sea.

Despite his supposed sins, by the Islamic period the adoption of Pseudo-Callisthenes' accounts meant that the image of Alexander was on balance positive. By the 12th century such important writers as Nezami Ganjavi were making him the subject of their epic poems, and holding him up as the model of the ideal statesman or philosopher-king, an idea adopted from the Greeks and elaborated on by Muslim philosophers like al-Farabi.

The traditional non-Western accounts differ from what we now know about the life of Alexander on a number of points. For example, he is held to be the companion of Aristotle and the direct student of Plato.


The Ray of the Physical Body cannot reliably be determined.

Alexander loved beauty of form (as his Venus conjunct the Sun would suggest).

His likeness was rendered more than once (in a manner no doubt flattering) by a famous sculptor of the day.

He was given to the most robust physical exertions, and could be, it seemed, indefatigable.

The first ray, from whichever source—from the soul or astrologically mediated—clearly had a great influence upon his physical nature,
though legend reports that he was lithe and supple rather than stiff as the first ray so often inclines the body to be.

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