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)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

He too is “Alexander”

It is not without reason that I have put “Alexander” between brackets in this title, for there is more to this quote than is suggested at first glance.

The Battle of Issus ended with the fleeing King Darius and Alexander evidently setting off in his pursuit. As darkness fell, he had to abandon his chase and on his way back to camp he picked up the chariot of the Persian king with his shield, mantle, and bow. In the meantimeMeanwhile, Alexander’s royal pages had taken possession of Darius’ tent, ready to welcome him with all the eastern riches that were seen as an omen for the upcoming conquest of Asia. They lit a great blaze of torches, prepared his bath and his meal, and waited for his return. He is said to have arrived around midnight and after a well-deserved bath, he sat down to relax over dinner, but then he was disturbed by lamenting voices of women nearby.

He was informed that Darius’ mother Sisygambis, his wife Stateira and children were in a nearby tent. They just had received the news that Alexander returned with the chariot, bow, and mantle of their king, which led them to believe that Darius was dead and that Alexander had stripped him of his arms. Until then, Alexander had not been aware that the Persian royal family had been captured.

He immediately sent Leonnatus, one of his Companions, to speak to Sisygambis and explain that Darius was still alive and that Alexander would treat her and the members of her family with the proper consideration. He would come and visit her the next morning to reiterate his goodwill.


The following day, Alexander came to visit Queen Sisygambis, together with his dear friend Hephaistion. It is said that Hephaistion was taller and more handsome than Alexander and since they were dressed alike, this led Sisygambis to prostrate herself before him instead of Alexander. Hephaistion immediately stepped back and the Queen Mother’s attendants pointed toward Alexander. This was quite an embarrassing situation and with Persian court rules being very strict, one can only imagine what must have gone through the poor woman’s mind. She made a new start and did obeisance to Alexander, who may have been secretly amused by the confusion.

It was here that Alexander pronounced the famous words: “Never mind, Mother, for he too is Alexander”, which has led to many wrong interpretations by modern historians. Interestingly, Arrian is the only one to quote Alexander’s words in a slightly different manner, and writing “he too is ‘an’ Alexander”a “protector of man” (see: Alexander the Great, it’s all in the name). In fact, Alexander is not only making light of Sisygambis mistake but pays a reverence to his dear friend in the presence of the Persian court.

The fact that he addressed Sisygambis as Mother automatically meant that he accepted her as a second mother and that his intentions were friendly. He reiterated the message that had been conveyed the evening before by Leonnatus. Alexander gave back all her servants, returned the royal jewelry, and restored her previous dignity. He also allowed Sisygambis to give the high ranked Persians of her choice who had fallen at Issus a burial in accordance with their own rites and customs. At this point, Curtius also adds that Alexander promised to provide for the marriage of Darius’ daughter and to raise his son as his own. Our sources are less clear when it comes to Queen Stateira, the most beautiful woman in the empire. Some say that Alexander respected her dignity, others that she died in childbirth of a child that could not have been Darius’.

This was Alexander’s first contact with the Persian Royal family and traditions, and I think he handled this extremely well and with great dignity.

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