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 Dragiana/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 OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene / Alexandria on the Indus (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 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)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ode to Alexander and Hephaistion

There are hardly a handful of pictures of Hephaistion that came to us from antiquity, and the few that made it are of very poor quality and rather damaged. The only decent statue of him is the head that is kept at the Getty Museum in Malibu, California, together with a head of Alexander that is said to belong to the same multi-figured group.

[picture from Free Image Finder]

Hephaistion, for those who do not know, was the lifetime companion of Alexander the Great. They were together since boyhood and Hephaistion fought alongside Alexander all through his eastern campaigns till his death in 324 BC. Since then and with the permission of the Egyptian oracle, Alexander had his friend worshipped as a hero.

Both life-sized heads are said to have been found in Megara (35 km west of Athens) as part of a funerary monument for some courtier who admired and probably worshipped Alexander. Altogether the Getty Museum possesses over thirty fragments of this group, probably a sacrificial scene that may have included besides Alexander and Hephaistion, a goddess, Heracles, a flute-player, as well as some animals and birds. The ensemble has been dated to 320 BC, meaning that it was made only three years after Alexander’s death in 323 BC. Striking that these are true Greek heads and no copies made by the Romans in later years.

Both heads have been re-carved in antiquity. Hephaistion probably once had a metal ribbon or diadem on his head, and his hair has been shortened. Maybe that is why his face looks so young. Alexander’s young idealized face is represented in the style which made Lysippos so famous, i.e. with deep-set upturned eyes and his typical anastolé.

How unique to have them both together – not only from the original statue but also together at the museum!


  1. Replies
    1. They both were amazing, and more than that ...!

  2. And then of course we also have Hefaistion's "statue portrait" on the so-called "Alexander Sarcophagus" in the Archeological Museum of the Topkapi - both Alexander and Hefaistion look great there; that is, they are good portraits, probably because the sculptor(s) who made this masterpiece had seen them personally!

  3. Yes, of course! How could I forget mentioning these two full-size pictures of Alexander and Hephaistion on that sarcophagus now at the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul. I'll have to talk about that sarcophagus in a separate blog soon.
    Thank you for bringing it to my attention!