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 of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, 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)


Monday, January 26, 2015

What if … Hephaistion had still been alive at the time of Alexander’s death in Babylon?

We can state beyond doubt that Hephaistion was Alexander’s closest friend; he was his confidant, and probably his lover. He undoubtedly occupied a very special place in Alexander’s life. One example is when after the Battle of Issus, King Darius’ family falls in Macedonian hands. Together with Hephaistion Alexander visits Queen Sisygambis, the Queen Mother, and she did obeisance before Hephaistion since he was the tallest and most handsome of the two. Alexander comes to her rescue by saying “he too is Alexander” – a statement he would not have made about anyone else. Another example can be found during the famous Susa wedding when Alexander gives princess Drypetis, the sister of his new bride Stateira, to Hephaistion since he wanted their mutual children to grow up as they had. A last example is the fact that Alexander wanted his dead friend to be worshipped as a god so that they could meet again in heaven for which he asked permission from the oracle of Siwah, who granted him the status of hero instead.

Hephaistion was one of Alexander’s Seven Bodyguards from the early days onward, together with Aristonous, Leonnatus, Lysimachus, Peithon, Perdiccas, and Ptolemy, but appears as “Commander of the Bodyguards” at the actual Battle of Gaugamela. In the light of his more intimate relation with Alexander, he would protect Alexander more fiercely and convincingly than anyone else. This same attitude may percolate through the trial of Philotas who was accused of conspiracy several years later and where we see Hephaistion as a most determined defender of Alexander’s security and safety.

Beside his role as Bodyguard and commander of the troops entrusted to him, it is clear that Hephaistion had many other tasks and responsibilities which do not jump out immediately but transpire through the accounts of Arrian and Plutarch. The historian Hieronymos affirms that Alexander reinstated the Persian post of Chiliarch (Prime Minister) solely for Hephaistion. His unique position is further disclosed and discussed by Andrew Chugg in his book “Alexander’s Lovers”.

Basically, I think we should see Hephaistion as a great diplomat functioning as a buffer between all the personages whirling around the royal tent from the simple pages to the highest general, and Alexander himself. As early as Tyre, he was assigned to find a leader/king for the newly conquered city. Another crucial moment was the orchestration of the Proskynesis, a general practice at the Persian court but considered abhorrent by the Greeks and the Macedonians but where Hephaistion set the example. The attempt to put Persians and Greeks on the same line did not work out as Alexander wished because his vision was larger than that of his army – yet he certainly had Hephaistion’s support.

There is a theory that Alexander has been poisoned or maybe unknowingly poisoned himself by taking too high a doses of the hellebore plant, a common remedy in antiquity to many ailments. I am convinced that Hephaistion would have looked closely after his dearest friend and could have avoided the poisoning orchestrated by an outsider or could have talked sense into Alexander’s mind about a more prudent dosage of his remedy (provided Alexander died of poisoning, that is)

Had Hephaistion, in his function of Chiliarch still been alive in Babylon, he probably would have had precedence over all the other commanders and that in spite of his earlier quarrel with Craterus. This happened when Alexander invaded India - a conflict which the king settled true to Salomon by stating that Craterus loved the king (philobasileus) and that Hephaistion loved Alexander (philalexandros). This evidences that they both had a seniority position over the other commanders and we may safely assume that they would respected their mutual position as well as their unconditional devotion to Alexander.

Yet, in the present theory, Craterus was underway to bring the veterans back home and take over regency from Antipater (assuming however that he would agree to give up his important position even upon Alexander’s order, which he had ignored before when the king summoned him to Babylon), leaving Hephaistion in charge of the east. It is rather obvious that Hephaistion would have spoken in Craterus’  name and would have acted with his approval.

It may have been possible for Hephaistion to “rule” over the other commanders pending the birth of Roxane’s child, who came into this world as Alexander IV. This child needed a regent pending his coming of age. I seriously doubt that the other generals would have tolerated Hephaistion’s leadership till that time (at least 18 years), but he may have avoided the kingship of Arrhideus/Philip III.

Each of the commanders was a wealthy man by now, some keeping a court of their own, and they were powerful figures in the eyes of their troops who only wanted more fights and more booty. Alexander’s empire had to be divided one way or another. Maybe most of the violence and continuous Wars of the Successors could have been avoided but not all. As pointed out above, in 323 BC we have to reckon with twelve powerful men, i.e. the Bodyguards and SeleucosNearchus, and Eumenes – in the absence of Craterus and Antipater. In fact, they were simply too many to make a decent and peaceful split. Hephaistion most probably would have had the time and the opportunity to organize and streamline the management of the many satrapies, with some form of agreement with Craterus in Macedonia. The succession of Alexander would not have dragged on for forty years when each general could have been assigned a part of the empire to rule pending the take over by Alexander IV. In the end, the Romans may have had a harder time conquering Asia and those eastern provinces would have been annexed only many centuries later than what happened now.

On the other hand, it is certain that Hephaistion would have protected Roxane and young Alexander with his life, for in his eyes they were part of Alexander in many ways. There would have been no case for Roxane to poison the Persian princesses, were it only because Hephaistion would have watched over all of them as his family.

[Picture of Alexander and Hephaistion is from Oliver Stone's move "Alexander"]

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