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How Tall was Alexander?

/images/bp3.jpg What was Alexander’s height?

It is good question and not thoroughly studied even though it is one of those things people always discuss.

Body & Height

Arrian said he was somewhat less than average height, Curtius that he was not of impressive physique and/or stature. Existing art shows him to be muscular with good length of leg and somewhat stocky, so Curtius must be referring to his height. What was average height back then? Macedonians, who had access to grazing land, probably ate better and were likely taller than the Southern Greeks.

Some scholars speculate that the armor found in Tomb II [Vergina, Macedonia/Greece; see picture] must be either Alexander’s or Philip’s. The armor would have fit a person of 5’ 2” or shorter. Both Kings were not popular with the writing Greeks, and I find it hard to believe such a lack of height would not have been mentioned by contemporaries. The armor probably belonged to Arrhidaeous’ wife, whose own mother would have been a warrior herself and raised her daughter to be one. Alexander was an excellent warrior. A lack of height this extreme would have put him at a severe disadvantage as a soldier, particularly on foot, due to leverage considerations with weapons and shields. And Alexander battled often on foot, not always on horseback.

The expert on Alexander Art, Andrew Stewart, places his height at 5’7” which is very close to my own estimate of 5’6” - just short enough to be noticed, but not to be disadvantageous and not worthy of mention in contemporary writings by authors who would have ran about the same height. In later times, where great stature was synonymous with great deeds, people wondered why a King so remarkable in all other things was not distinguished in that one area which was so a reflection of a gift from the Gods.

Article submitted by Tre, June 26th 2004

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