The Death of Alexander the Great Essay

The Death of Alexander the Great Essay

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In the year 324 BC, Alexander, on the way to Babylon, came to his traditional summer retreat of Ecbatana. There, he held a massive festival in honor of Dionysus in which it is believed up to 3,000 Greek performers were brought to provide entertainment. Night after night, lavish drinking parties ensued in which Alexander and Hephaestion, (his supposed alter ego) undoubtedly participated in. It was during this time of extravagant celebration that Hephaestion became ill and contracted a high fever. Hephaestion's physician Glaucias put him on a strict diet and monitored his health. At first, this appeared to be working until on the seventh day of Hephaestion's illness, Glaucias went to the theater and Hephaestion decided to ignore the physician's advice. Hephaestion proceeded to eat a whole chicken and drank a half-gallon of chilled wine at breakfast. He died shortly thereafter. When Alexander was told of Hephaestion's illness, he rushed to be with him but Hephaestion had already passed away.

Alexander was now devastated by this loss. Arrian states that "for two days after Hephaestion's death, Alexander tasted no food and took no care of his body..." (7.14.8). It is widely believed that Alexander had Glaucias executed, blaming him for Hephaestion's sudden demise. Alexander was also believed to have razed the temple of Asclepius, the god of healing. Alexander's grief at Hephaestion's death had no limits (Plutarch, 72.3). Plutarch writes: "Moreover, making war a solace for his grief, he went forth to hunt and track down men, as it were, and overwhelmed the nation of the Cossaeans, slaughtering them all from the youth upwards. This was called an offering to the shade of Hephaestion (72.4).

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