The death of Alexander #2 The Greek Alexander Romance
Posted: Sat Jun 05, 2021 6:49 pm
The Greek Alexander Romance by Pseudo-Callisthenes Translated by Richard Stoneman ©1991
31. In Macedonia, Antipater had taken over the reins of power and was treating Alexander's mother Olympias as he liked. Olympias wrote frequently to her son about Antipater, as she was very angry about this. Finally, when she was planning a trip to Epirus, Antipater forbade her to go. Alexander … sent Craterus to Antipater in Macedonia to take charge of the country. When Antipater learnt of Alexander's plan and of the arrival of Craterus, who had brought an army with him to Macedonia and Thessaly, he was afraid. He decided to murder Alexander…. He had heard that Alexander had far exceeded his earlier arrogance as a result of his great successes. So he laid a plot, and prepared a poison which could not be carried in any vessel of bronze, glass or clay, because such a vessel would shatter instantly. Antipater put the poison in a jar of lead, and placed this in another jar of iron, then he gave it to his son and sent it to Babylon to Alexander's cupbearer Iolaus…
When Antipater's son arrived in Babylon, he spoke secretly to Alexander's cupbearer, Iolaus, and asked him to give the king the poison. Now Iolaus was nursing a grudge against Alexander because some days earlier he had made some mistake and Alexander had hit him over the head with his stick, injuring him severely…. Iolaus also took into his confidence a certain Medius who had likewise been assaulted by Alexander…. One day Alexander was sleeping off a large dinner. Medius came to him the following morning and invited him to his house as a guest.
… there were several other guests besides him. They included Ptolemy, Olcias, Lysimachus, Eumenes and Cassander. None of these knew anything about the planned crime; but the others present were in the secret … All of them had reason to be angry at Alexander's acts.
When Alexander was reclining at table, Iolaus brought him first an uncontaminated cup. As the conversation grew general, and, …had been going on for some time, Iolaus brought another cup, this time containing the poison. Alexander, to his misfortune, accepted it and drank it down. At once he gave a loud yell as if he had been pierced by an arrow through the liver. He remained conscious for a time, and fought down the pain enough to return to his own house. He asked the guests to continue with their meal.
32. [They were very upset and at once broke up the party;… Alexander wanted to bring up the excess of wine and asked for a feather, for that was how he usually made himself vomit. Iolaus smeared one with some of the poison and gave it to him. In this way the poison infected him all the more quickly,… Alexander was racked with cramps and doubled up with pain. He endured a night of agony with great fortitude. On the next day, …unable even to speak clearly because his tongue was swollen, he sent everyone out, hoping to get some rest and to talk privately about the affairs that concerned him. Cassander conferred with his brother and departed by night. He removed to the mountains of Cilicia and waited there for Iolaus to arrive. He had made a pact with Iolaus, that if Alexander died, he would not be implicated. …
When night fell, Alexander ordered all the girls and boys who were attending him to leave the house, including Kambobaphe and Roxane his wife. There was a door leading out of the house towards the river Euphrates,.. He ordered this to be opened, and that no one was to stand guard by it,.. When they had all left, and it was the middle of the night, Alexander rose from his bed, extinguished the lamp, and left the house on all fours, heading for the river. As he approached, he … saw his wife Roxanne running towards him. She has guesses, when he sent everyone away, that he was going to attempt some deed worthy of his great audacity, … He stopped, and she embraced him and sais <'Alexander, are you leaving me to kill yourself?' He replied> 'Roxane, it is small benefit to you to take away my glory. Let no one hear about this.' Then, with her support, he made his way back secretly to the house.
The next day he summoned Perdiccas, Ptolemy and Lysimachus. He instructed that no one else should enter the room until he made his will. Suddenly the was a great outcry from the Macedonians, who all ran to the courtyard of Alexander's palace, ready to kill his guards if they would not let them see the king…. So Alexander ordered his bed to be positioned where all the army could march past and see him, going out again by another door…. There was not one among them who did not weep to see their great king, Alexander, lying on his bed at the point of death. One of them, … said, ' Your father, Philip, … ruled as a good king, and so have you done…, for you made Macedon a free country.' Alexander wept, and stretched out his hand with a consoling gesture. [The horse Bucephalus ran into their midst and, standing close to Alexander, began to water the bed with his tears…
When the Macedonians had filed past, he called back those who were with Perdiccas. He took Olcias by the hand and ordered him to read out the will….
The Ptolemy came to him and said, 'Alexander, to whom do you leave your kingdom?'
'To him who is strong, who is willing, who can keep it, and who can maintain it,' was the reply.
33. The he dictated the following letter to his mother:…
[When he had finished greeting everybody, Charmides the son of Polycrates came in. He was a strong lad, well-reputed even among his enemies, and Alexander was in love with him. He embraced Alexander and did not want to leave him… Alexander did not want to let the lad go, but flung his arms around his neck. …
Then he called everyone and asked them to have him buried in Alexandria, and to accompany him to his grave, and after the funeral to depart, each of them, to his allotted kingdom. He .. made them swear an oath not to disregard any of his dispensations… All the while he clung to Charmides.
… When Alexander spoke like this to Bucephalus, the whole army howled… The treacherous slave who had prepared the poison … thought that Alexander was dead, and came running to see. When Bucephalus saw him, he … seized the slave in his teeth and dragged him to Alexander; he shook him violently and gave a loud whinny … Then he took a great leap into the air, dragging the treacherous and deceitful slave with him, and smashed him against the ground. The slave was torn apart; bits of him flesh all over everyone… The horse got up, neighed a little, and then fell down before Alexander and breathed his last….
Then the air was filled with mist, and a great star was seen descending from the sky, accompanied by an eagle; and the statue in Babylon, which was called the statue of Zeus, trembled. When the star ascended again to the sky, accompanied by the eagle, and had disappeared, Alexander fell into his eternal sleep….
35. Alexander lived thirty-two years. His life ran thus: he was king for ten years, he made war for twelve years, and was victorious in his wars….
Alexander was born in January at the new moon, at the rising of the sun; he died in the month of April at the new moon, at the setting of the sun. The day of his death was called Neomaga… From the death of Alexander to the Incarnation of the Word of God by the Virgin is 324 years.