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 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)

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Philotas Affair – Part I – How the plot was revealed

In 330 BC when encamped at Phrada (modern Fara in Afghanistan) also called Alexandria-in-Drangiana, Philotas is being accused of conspiracy against Alexander. A similar accusation had been brought to Alexander’s attention before when he was in Egypt by Antigone, Philotas’ mistress but at that time he had refused to believe it. This time, however, there was solid proof and one of the accusers included Coenus, who was married to Philotas’ sister.

Curtius, as usual, gives by far the most detailed report which by itself reads like the script for a thriller. The story starts with a certain Dymnus, a man of little importance, who was madly in love with young Nicomachus and anxious to bind him to his person. He lures him into the temple saying that he has something very important and confidential to share with him. Under the spell of his deep affection, Dymnus demands his lover to pledge under oath to keep silent what he is about to disclose and Nicomachus, not expecting anything incumbent, complies. Satisfied, Dymnus then tells him that a plot against Alexander has been arranged and will be executed in three days’ time, adding, in order to give himself more importance, that he shares the plan with some brave and distinguished men. The young man’s reaction, however, is pure horror and he immediately tells Dymnus that he cannot take part in such treason and cannot be bound by his oath to the gods to keep such a crime secret!


Dymnus is furious, hurt in his love and fearing betrayal he begs him to take part in the plot; if he cannot do this, at least he should not betray him for, after all, he trusted him with his life. As Nicomachus stubbornly continues to express his abhorrence of the crime, Dymnus tries to frighten him by saying that the conspirators would take his life before taking that of their king. To no avail. Dymnus then tries every trick of the trade to convince him. He goes as far as to pull his sword, pointing it to his lover’s throat, then to his own and in the end forces him to promise his silence as well as his support.

In reality, Nicomachus has not changed his mind; he just pretends to go along saying that out of love for Dymnus he could not refuse and then inquires about the other associates in this highly important matter. Dymnus congratulates him on his decision to join the other conspirators like Demetrius (belonging to Alexander’s bodyguard), Peucolaüs, Nicanor, and also men like Aphobetus, Iolaus, Theoxenus, Archepolis and Amyntas.

Imagine the load resting on Nicomachus’ shoulders at this point! He simply cannot ignore the information he has been entrusted with and shares it with his brother, Cebalinus. In order not to make Nicomachus suspicious of betrayal by going to Alexander, it is Cebalinus who enters the vestibule of Alexander’s tent where he waits for one of the king’s friends to appear. It happens to be Philotas and Cebalinus reveals the plot to him, insisting that he should tell Alexander at once. Philotas remains with Alexander for some time but does not mention the conspiracy. When Cebalinus meets Philotas later that night and inquires if he has done what he requested, Philotas simply states that Alexander had no time to talk with him and he walks away. The next day, Cebalinus once again is near Alexander’s tent when Philotas is on his way in and he reminds him of this most serious issue. Philotas answers that he is attending to it, but again does nothing.

At this point, Cebalinus becomes suspicious of Philotas and decides to talk to one of the king’s Pages. He approaches Metron who is in charge of the armory. Metron instantly understands the urgency and seriousness of the matter and goes to Alexander while he is bathing. Alexander immediately orders Dymnus to be arrested and walks into the armory where Cebalinus had hidden pending the king’s reaction. Alexander, of course, wants to know all the details and in particular when Nicomachus had given him the information. Upon learning that it was two days ago, Alexander puts Cebalinus in fetters upon which the poor boy shouts that had informed Philotas without any delay and that it was he who had withheld the news. Accusing Philotas, one of the king’s Companions and trusted friends was unheard of and Alexander keeps on questioning Nicomachus who time and again retells the same story.

At this point, Dymnus is to be brought before Alexander. Dymnus, however, as soon as he learned that he was called to Alexander's tent, had wounded himself with his sword and by the time he stood before his king his speech already failed him, he swooned and died. This certainly confirmed the man’s guilt.

Philotas too was summoned to the royal tent. Imagine the commotion that has risen by now! Alexander confronts him with the words reported to him by Cebalinus, adding that if he had indeed concealed the conspiracy for two days the man deserved the extreme penalty but since he insists that he immediately reported the information to him, Philotas, the general has some explaining to do. Philotas is in no way disturbed by these words and replies that Cebalinus had indeed spoken to him but that he had not given the matter any credibility and had dismissed it as a quarrel between a lover and his favorite. Yet the suicide of Dymnus proves otherwise.

At this stage, Philotas throws his arms around Alexander begging him to consider his past deeds rather than finding fault for his silence. It is uncertain at this stage whether Alexander believes him or not, in any case, he offers Philotas his right hand saying that the information seemed to have been rejected and not concealed. But clearly, Alexander didn’t take the matter as lightly as he made Philotas believe and shortly afterwards he calls in a meeting with his friends of which Philotas is excluded. Nicomachus is brought in and he confirms the story as reported by his brother before.

Craterus, an important rival of Philotas reminds the king of the general’s repeated bragging about his own valor and accomplishments and accuses him of arrogance. Taking advantage of this situation, Craterus underscores that Philotas would always be able to plot against him and Alexander will not always be able to pardon him. The other Companions have no doubt that Philotas would not have blurred evidence of the conspiracy unless he was closely involved. If truly a loyal friend, Philotas would have hastened to his king as soon as heard about this conspiracy. After all, Philotas had spent the whole day in amusement and allegedly had found no room to place a few words about the life and death of his king. Even if he had not taken Cebalinus seriously, why excusing himself by saying that there had been no opportunity to bring the matter to Alexander’s attention?

The charges were clear and all parties present decided that Philotas should be tortured in order to obtain the names of the conspirators. Alexander dismisses his Companions with instructions to keep silent about this plan. He then issues orders that the army should prepare for a march the next day, keeping everyone in a state of alert. As a masterly strategist and a true poker player, Alexander then invites Philotas to a banquet and entertains him and talks to him familiarly as usual.

That night, when the lights have been put out Alexander’s trusted friends gather in his tent. Among them are Hephaistion, Craterus, Coenus and Erigyius, as well as Perdiccas and Leonnatus. The order is given to those standing on guard at the king’s tent to remain on watch and under arms. The cavalry already was stationed at all the camp’s entrances with instructions to let nobody in or out. With these safety measures in place, a certain Atarrhias is summoned to the royal tent with 300 armed men and men-at-arms. The latest are sent out to arrest the known conspirators while Atarrhias and his men have orders to apprehend Philotas. With fifty of his bravest soldiers, he breaks into his quarters while the rest of them surround the house to thwart any possible escape. Atarrhias finds Philotas in deep sleep, puts him in chains and leads him to Alexander.

Sources do not concur on what happens next. It is not certain whether Philotas was tortured or not to extract his confession that he and his father wanted to kill Alexander

... to be continued in: The Philotas Affair – Part II – His judgment and execution

[Pictures from Oliver Stone's movie Alexander are from Movie Screen Shots]

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