Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

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Paralus
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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by Paralus » Thu Feb 02, 2017 9:10 pm

Xenophon wrote:As for Paralus' remarks, the likelihood is that Alexander knew his unborn child, if a son, would have little or no chance of surviving, let alone succeeding, and the Macedonians didn't have to be 'seers' to forecast troubles if Roxane's child was named heir. As Curtius says, that left only Arrhidaeus, a grown man, and "sole heir" and "next in blood" (as half brother) "born to such a hope"(kingship) [X.7]
This directly contradicts the earlier brief mention of Heracles, who would have fit all these criteria if he existed.
Other than the fact that Curtius has just finished narrating:
  • The rejection of Perdikkas
    The rejection of Herakles
    The rejection of the unborn Alexander IV
This, of course, leaves only Arrhidaios as the sole heir and the only one acceptable to the Macedonian rank and file. Simple really.
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Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by Xenophon » Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:39 pm

Paralus wrote:
Other than the fact that Curtius has just finished narrating:

The rejection of Perdikkas
The rejection of Herakles
The rejection of the unborn Alexander IV

This, of course, leaves only Arrhidaios as the sole heir and the only one acceptable to the Macedonian rank and file. Simple really.
Paralus
A little too simple really. You have rather overlooked the fact that despite 'rejection' as candidates to succeed to the throne, 'Heracles' and Alexander IV are still technically heirs by birth to AtG, and Arrhidaeus cannot be truthfully described as "sole heir" in Paralus' version.
But Arrhidaeus is said to be “solus heres”/sole heir, and again at [X.7.6], he is "the only one born to inherit/hic solus est”, and at [X.7.2] no-one but Arrhidaeus has a claim as "next in blood", ['Heracles', if he existed, was not only "next in blood", but a son to boot, and therefore also had a claim and was born to inherit] and that no-one but Arrhhidaeus could assume Alexander’s name, or the family name.[Heracles could not assume his father's name? Arrhidaeus ( who was just as 'illegitimate' in modern terms) did so, becoming Philip.][X.7.15]

All this denies the existence of Heracles, and strongly implies the speech attributed to Nearchus is an inserted later interpolation.

Also, Curtius brings back Perdiccas as a candidate [X.7.12], but the majority favour Arrhidaeus because he is "the Royal stock" ( and Heracles is not?) - but no mention of Heracles, who in Paralus' version, still exists.

The short reference to Heracles is simply inconsistent and incompatible with the subsequent narrative text - the sign of a careless interpolator.

Paralus' line of reasoning considers only part of the evidence, just as earlier when he claimed that the lack of mention of Heracles in the epitomised sources was because epitomators 'left things out' rather overlooks the obvious corollary that they don't mention Heracles because he wasn't mentioned in the original text in the first place.Since we can't know which, this no evidence at all.

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by Xenophon » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:26 am

hiphys wrote:I think that a son of Alexander (either named Heracles or not) did exist. Perhaps he was the same son by Roxane who died (according to Metz Epitome 70) in Autumn 326 b.C. during the Indian campaign. But the Heracles who Polyperchon tried to pass off as Alexander's son was most likely a fake. But what about Nearchus' support to Heracles (according to Curtius 10. 6, 10-12), during the debate on Alexander's succession? I can only guess some late source backdated Heracles' mention in Babylon conclave, "because" someone had to gain someting doing so (for instance a reward from Polyperchon ?). Unfortunately I have no proof at all of this conjecture.
A well observed connection, Hiphys.
Metz Epitome 70 is supported by a Hebrew Romance manuscript [MS cod heb 2797.10; Bodleian library Oxford], as reported in a thesis by the Canadian Heather Loube.
"The King's son, Alexander, died at the age of nine months.On the same day his horse Busifal died.The King wept bitterly and ordered his son buried, and his horse Busifal buried near him.He ordered a beautiful mausoleum erected over them."[tr. Reich]

Most scholars accept the statement regarding a son born to Roxanne in 326 as true.

This marries up with the date of birth of the supposed Heracles quite well, as I noted in my post above of Jan 26:
"No mention whatsoever of the birth of Heracles in any source – rather astounding in itself, which if Diodorus is right that he was 17 when he was murdered in 310/309 puts it around 327/326 BC, when Alexander was campaigning in India, yet there is no mention whatever in our sources of Barsine accompanying the expedition East."

That is hardly co-incidence and suggests that deliberately or otherwise, 'Heracles' is confused with a real son who died in childhood - another argument that the Heracles of 310 is a 'pretender'. Incidently, the Metz epitome is yet another source which does not mention Heracles or Barsine, though one cannot read too much into that.

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by hiphys » Sat Feb 04, 2017 5:51 pm

I knew nothing of the Hebrew Romance of Alexander, but it's very likely 'the King's son, Alexander, who died at nine months' isn't an invention. Why, otherwise, invent a nine month death of his son, when Alexander is alive and victorious? This is an interesting piece of information, really. Thank you for your post!

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by Alexias » Sat Feb 04, 2017 6:43 pm

Metz Epitome 70 is supported by a Hebrew Romance manuscript [MS cod heb 2797.10; Bodleian library Oxford], as reported in a thesis by the Canadian Heather Loube.
"The King's son, Alexander, died at the age of nine months.On the same day his horse Busifal died.The King wept bitterly and ordered his son buried, and his horse Busifal buried near him.He ordered a beautiful mausoleum erected over them."[tr. Reich]
Surely this is referring to events in India and Roxane's first child who died at the river Acesines in 326. Bucephalus died the same year. It is interesting that it gives the child's age - meaning he was probably a honeymoon baby from the wedding the previous spring.

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by Alexias » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:12 am

Sorry, I have just re-read this and realised that you are trying to prove that because Heracles' birth is not recorded in the sources, the mention of the death of the first child of Roxane makes Heracles' parentage dubious. This is surely flawed logic as the death of one child does not disprove the existence of another. A high birth rate and a high infant and child mortality rate must have meant that many births and deaths are not recorded in the incomplete sources that have come down to us. Philip had many sons, and presumably daughters too, who did not survive, but we know nothing of their births and deaths.

And how about this, that claims that a daughter of Alexander and Roxane married Achaeus, a son of Seleucus and his Bactrian wife Apama http://www.american-pictures.com/geneal ... 1161.htm#0? This could be complete fabrication, but it is quite possible that Roxane bore a daughter between India and Babylon, but because the girl would have only been a small child, she would not have figured in anyone's reckoning at Alexander's death and didn't get a mention in the sources.

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by Xenophon » Sun Feb 05, 2017 10:08 pm

Alexias wrote:
Sorry, I have just re-read this and realised that you are trying to prove that because Heracles' birth is not recorded in the sources, the mention of the death of the first child of Roxane makes Heracles' parentage dubious. This is surely flawed logic as the death of one child does not disprove the existence of another.
I think you may have missed my point. Have another read of my last post. 'Heracles' is supposedly born, or is claimed to have been born, at more or less the same time as Roxane's baby Alexander, who died at nine months. Many people would know that a son of Alexander was born at that time.

It looks suspiciously as if the Heracles of 310 is claiming to be that child (or it is being claimed for him) - who didn't die after all but grew up to become Heracles.

Otherwise, the birth of TWO sons in 326, one to Roxanne and one to Barsine would surely have been recorded - but isn't.
Bear in mind, of course, that is merely an additional point amongst the other evidence I have adduced.

Your comment that high infant mortality means many births and deaths go unrecorded is perfectly correct.But in this instance, the birth and death of an infant 'Alexander' is recorded, whilst a Royal birth of the supposed 'Heracles' is not?

As to a daughter of Alexander and Roxanne, that is certainly news to me,and as you say, not impossible, but genealogies are notoriously unreliable and often fictional, especially at that time. One would want to know a source for this. To the best of my knowledge, Achaeus is recorded as having four children [Antiochis,Alexander, Laodice and Andromachus] by an unknown Greek wife. ( not unusual: several Seleucid Royal wives are unknown to history)..........

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by hiphys » Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:01 pm

Oddly enough there is a daughter of Alexander even in the Romance. She is called Kalè and her mother is a concubine (pallakè) of Alexander. She is introduced during the search of the spring of immortality; after drinking the water of eternal life by mistake, she became a daimon and was called Neraida (i.e. descendant from "nerò" = water), but was exiled by her father (Alex. Rom. 2, 41).

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by Alexias » Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:16 pm

I think you may have missed my point. Have another read of my last post. 'Heracles' is supposedly born, or is claimed to have been born, at more or less the same time as Roxane's baby Alexander, who died at nine months. Many people would know that a son of Alexander was born at that time.
My apologies for misunderstanding, Xenophon.
It looks suspiciously as if the Heracles of 310 is claiming to be that child (or it is being claimed for him) - who didn't die after all but grew up to become Heracles.
Sounds a bit too much like The Princes in the Tower and Perkin Warbeck, even for me! I think Heracles date of birth is usually calculated to be 328-327, rather than 326.

Seleucus's daughter-in law cannot have been Roxane's daughter, or she wouldn't have been left behind in Babylon, but would have ended up in Cassander's hands and he would likely have kept her for one of his own sons, or even married her himself. If her mother was an unknown woman from the harem, it is possible Alexander was her father, or that it could be claimed he was. The same thing appears to be going on in Hiphys's example, and who knows if one of them might really have been Alexander's daughter?

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by Xenophon » Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:41 pm

Alexias wrote:
Sounds a bit too much like The Princes in the Tower and Perkin Warbeck, even for me!
Of course it does.The very first thing that a 'pretender' must do is establish a plausible lineage, for that is the very foundation of his claim, and will inevitably come under scrutiny before he will be followed ( whether Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be the younger of the Princes, Richard Duke of York, and hence Yorkist heir to the English throne; or 'Heracles', son of Alexander and heir to the Macedonian throne). This is true for all 'pretenders'.
I think Heracles date of birth is usually calculated to be 328-327, rather than 326.
....only by those who calculate incorrectly! :lol: We are told that in 310 BC, 'Heracles' was "about 17 years of age" [D.S.XX.20.1].
Unlike us, who calculate age in arrears ( i.e. you are one at the end of your first year), the Greek way was to calculate inclusively (i.e. you are one from the beginning of your first year) so we must subtract one from any Greek age to correspond to modern age. Thus 'Heracles' was about 16 by our reckoning, and hence was supposedly born in 326 BC.......

As to daughters, don't forget that our sources say Alexander died 'childless' so no daughters or sons ( save Roxanne's child 'in vitro', variously descibed as 5 months or 8 months pregnant at the time of Alexander's death)

There is also a reasonable case that 'Barsine' too did not in fact exist - most notably put forward by Tarn.

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by system1988 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:09 pm

Regarding the royal sons and daughters,i recently read in a book about Olympia s life a detail that was not aware of. When Olympias invited Roxane and Alexander IV from Pella ( where they lived under the protection of Antipater) to Epiros, Olympias arranged an engagement for her grandson with Diidamia the little daughter of the King of the Molossians Aeakides .Aeakides was son of Arribas and first cousin of Olympias ,also later known as the father of Pirros the 'terrible'
I immagine that she had something like that in her mind for her son about 20 years back , but he escaped her !
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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by amyntoros » Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:17 pm

Xenophon wrote:Alexias wrote:

I think Heracles date of birth is usually calculated to be 328-327, rather than 326.
....only by those who calculate incorrectly! :lol: We are told that in 310 BC, 'Heracles' was "about 17 years of age" [D.S.XX.20.1].
Unlike us, who calculate age in arrears ( i.e. you are one at the end of your first year), the Greek way was to calculate inclusively (i.e. you are one from the beginning of your first year) so we must subtract one from any Greek age to correspond to modern age. Thus 'Heracles' was about 16 by our reckoning, and hence was supposedly born in 326 BC........
This interests me greatly as I wasn't aware of this method of calculating age. In fact all I currently recall reading was that the Athenians didn't pay too much attention to actual birthday so when it came time for school, etc., the actual ages of the "groups" could vary by more than a year. Wish i could give references but most of my poor books are still in storage. Feel bad about that because I am hoping you can give references for your statement above. Would much appreciate it.

And sorry if my posts/sentences seem clipped. Am working on an Amazon Fire right now. Great little gadget overall but the one-finger typing is a pain and the spell check has an evil mind of its own!

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by Xenophon » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:43 am

I can't offhand give you a specific source, but it wasn't just age that was counted in this way. As most people are aware, the number "zero" is a fairly recent development. In 628 AD, a Hindu astronomer and mathematician named Brahmagupta developed a symbol for zero.By A.D. 773, zero reached Baghdad where it became part of the Arabic number system, which is based upon the Indian system. The actual "circle" symbol we use was invented by a Persian mathematician, Al Khwarizmi in Baghdad in the 9 C, from which comes our word 'algorithm'. From there, it spread to Europe and, for example, was used by the Italian mathematician Fibonacci in the 12 C AD. This is the Arabic numeral system we use today. ( There you go, your trivia dose of the day! :oops: )

Greeks and Romans, not having "zero" to start a counting sequence as we do had to start from "one".For example, everyone knows that the Olympics occur every four years. Ancient writers all refer to the Olympics as a 5-year period (in Greek, pentaeterikoi, Latin quinquennales). This might seem odd to us, but Greeks and Romans most commonly counted inclusively as I related regarding age; that is to say:

year 1..............year 2 ............year 3..............year 4.............year 5
Olympiad..........-------..............-------..............-------.............Olympiad

....which to us counts as a four year interval . Another example is that the Greeks reckoned pregnancy as lasting ten months rather than nine.

It is true that ancient Greek civilisation didn't generally celebrate birthdays, save divine ones of the Gods.( Even today, one's "name day," the day of the Saint for whom they are named, is a more important celebration than a birthday). The habit of birthday celebrations for normal people seems to have been a Roman custom - but not for women until the 12 C AD!!! (More trivia! :oops: )

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by amyntoros » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:09 pm

Okay, thank you for the above. I knew the Greeks had no zero but I never really investigated how they counted without one! However, doesn't that mean that a child born in the first month of a year and the last month of the same year would both be considered "one" year old? That would explain what I remember about children and youth in Athens. And wouldn't it also make Alexias' question about the age of Heracles a viable point; that there could be at least eleven months disparity in the date of his birth?

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Re: Alexander the Great...Good or Bad King, or neither? An Essay

Post by Xenophon » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:34 am

amyntoros wrote:Okay, thank you for the above. I knew the Greeks had no zero but I never really investigated how they counted without one! However, doesn't that mean that a child born in the first month of a year and the last month of the same year would both be considered "one" year old?
I'm not sure I understand your point here. The answer is obviously yes, then as now. If I tell you someone is 16, that would only tell you an approximation of their age, that they had been born in 2001, but as you say that could mean anytime from January to December. You could only tell that person's exact age if you knew their birthday, which of course the Greeks generally didn't observe, hence Diodorus' "about seventeen years of age" in 310 BC.
And wouldn't it also make Alexias' question about the age of Heracles a viable point; that there could be at least eleven months disparity in the date of his birth?
Alexias actually said:
I think Heracles date of birth is usually calculated to be 328-327, rather than 326.
She refers to 328/327 because our years run January to December, whilst Greek calendars generally began in Autumn ( e.g. Macedonian began 1st Dios =1st October aprox - because it was lunar this would shift slightly year to year). The main exceptions were Boeotia, whose calendar began in mid-winter, and Athens, whose main calendar year (confusingly they used 3 calendars simultaneously, which I won't go into) began in mid-Summer ( 1st Hekatombeion =July/August aprox, again because it was lunar, beginning the first sighting of the new moon after the summer solstice.).

If 'Heracles' had been supposedly born after September/October 328/327, that would make him "about 18" by the inclusive Greek count, so 328/327 cannot be correct.

That he could have supposedly been born any time in the 12 months of 327/326 doesn't really affect matters.

Just for the sake of completeness, Justin [ XV.2.3] says this:
"Afterwards, lest Hercules, the son of Alexander, who had nearly completed his fourteenth year, should be called to the throne of Macedonia through the influence of his father’s name, he [Cassander] sent secret orders that he should be put to death, together with his mother Barsine, and that their bodies should be privately buried in the earth lest the murder should be betrayed by a regular funeral"
However, he gives no indication of just when 'Heracles' was about to turn 15, and because it's an epitome and events are compressed ( notice no mention of Polyperchon's part in all this), Diodorus' account is likely more accurate.

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