Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Drangiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Alexander and Roxane (Central Asia 13)

[12 - Maybe the most important event is Alexander’s marriage with beautiful Roxane, daughter of a local Bactrian warlord in early 327 BC.]

During my two weeks’ stay in Uzbekistan, I had plenty of opportunities to meet the local people, either on the street or in the marketplaces. We frequently were invited to their homes for lunch or dinner and often were treated to their folklore songs and dances. Not that I am so fond of folklore, but this was so different! I immediately associated the music, dances, and costumes with Roxane’s dance in Oliver Stones’ movie “Alexander”. How is that possible? I kept seeing “Roxane” everywhere and mostly because these dancing girls and mannequins I met at the occasional fashion show were extremely beautiful!

Trying to analyze their faces and shapes, I would divide the Uzbek women into three categories: one with clear Mongol or Asiatic traits, one showing influences from Russian occupation and finally a minority group of these tall, slender, delicate and most beautiful creatures I ever saw. There is no doubt in my mind, Roxane must have belonged to this latter elite. No wonder that Alexander fell in love at first sight as some say – although that assumption has been contradicted by others.

As mentioned above, Oxyartes and his family including Roxane fell in Alexander’s hands after the siege of the Sogdian Rock. Roxane was a girl of marriageable age, of whom Arrian relates that Alexander’s soldiers used to say that she was the loveliest woman in Asia, with the exception of Darius’ wife. Well, it is obvious that Alexander would not have married an ugly girl, but now that I have seen these young ladies for myself, I fully understand what is meant speaking of beauty. Yet, whatever Alexander’s feelings were towards her, he must have realized that politically speaking this marriage could help to smoothen his relations with the Sogdian warlords and through them with the entire population. As a captive, the king could have taken the girl without having to marry her, of course. That shows that love was not the only factor Alexander took into consideration.

The wedding ceremony may have been a simple one but the setting showed Alexander’s sense of grandeur. A lavish banquet was arranged in the high fortress of Chorienes (I suppose because they had plenty of food?). In accordance with Persian customs (still used in today’s Turkestan), a loaf of bread was split in two and bride and groom ate their half before all the guests present as a symbol of their match. For those who don’t know, Roxane in Persian (Farsi) means “little star”. Yes, the Great King, now 28 years old married for the first time and took a girl of little significance, except politically I suppose.
[picture from Oliver Stone's movie]

How unique then to find a miniature of this wedding in the streets of Bukhara. Iskander as Alexander is called in the East and Roxane sitting under a canopy surrounded by courtiers and musicians in a spring garden. I just wonder what the Arabic inscription underneath could reveal.

Coming to think of it, Roxane’s destiny was a sad one. She was never accepted in the world of her new husband, which since a young age she learned to fear and maybe even to hate. As Queen Roxane, she found herself caught up in a strange and foreign world, never to see her homeland again. When she finally carried Alexander’s child, her husband died without knowing she would give him the much-needed heir to the throne. In spite of Queen Olympias’ protection, she finally succumbed to Cassander’s thirst for might and power. She was murdered in 310 BC, and so was her son, Alexander IV.

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