Hephaiston's death

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Hephaiston's death

Post by Kasia » Sat Feb 07, 2004 7:40 am

What do you know about way of Hephaiston death? I heard only this,than he was ill he drank too may alcohol and ate too many food.He couldn't do it and he died... But I don't konw is this true...So if know some version I will be very glad to hear it.Best wishes

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Re: Hephaiston's death

Post by beausefaless » Sat Feb 07, 2004 10:57 am

Maybe typhoid, maybe malaria. There isn't enough (good) information about his illness even to guess. As for the poison theory (whose proponents point to a boiled chicken and some wine that Hephaistion supposedly had on the morning of his death), maybe a chicken bone got stuck in his windpipe, just a little joke but have you heard of anyone dying from eating a yard bird? Your guess would be better than mine.
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Re: Hephaiston's death

Post by jason_xander2000 » Sat Feb 07, 2004 4:01 pm

Death very similar to Alexander I would assume, yet its strange the disease was basically biased for Hepheastion and Alexander,maybe they both just had a swim in an exclusive germ pond designed for them both or maybe it took longer for the poisoned chicken to drop Alexander!

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Re: Hephaiston's death

Post by ruthaki » Sun Feb 08, 2004 3:43 am

I've read modern medical reports that say he had typhoied and that eating chicken when he did would have had an affect like rupturing his stomach or something. Personally, I still go with the poison theory.

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Re: Hephaiston's death

Post by agesilaos » Fri Feb 13, 2004 1:55 pm

If a paranoid, meglomaniac like Alexander did not see a conspiracy should we?
When you think about, it free-choice is the only possible option.

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Re: Hephaiston's death

Post by amyntoros » Fri Feb 13, 2004 9:04 pm

Seeing as how this thread has brought up the poison theory again, I thought I'd post a little gem from Athenaeus' Deipnosophists. Apparently, Alexander had a food taster!"Those who give the summons to come to the king's table, as Pamphilus says, are called 'table-men.' from eleon, which means 'meat-table.' But Artemidorus names them 'dinner-summoners.' He further says that they used to call the foretasters 'eaters.' because they ate before the king to ensure his safety. But in our day the 'eater' has become the superintendent of the entire service' his office was distinguished and honourable. Chares, at any rate, in the third book of his Histories says that Ptolemy Soter was appointed 'eater' for Alexander."I have not known what to make of this since I discovered it recently. At first, it seemed laughable, but then I thought, why shouldn't Alexander have had a food-taster? He had an individual just to pour his wine! If it had been a Persian custom, then might he not have adopted it when he took up other Persian ways? Anyway, I doubt that he really suspected anyone of attempting to poison him. I think that I'm more amused at the idea of Ptolemy having this "job", but that is probably because I know how important a historical figure Ptolemy became after Alexander's death.Linda Ann

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Post by Susa the Great » Sun Mar 18, 2018 2:23 pm

I shouldn't be bumming around here, what of my dissertation and so on, but I just found this old poison post with this most interesting story about a food-taster!
At first, it seemed laughable, but then I thought, why shouldn't Alexander have had a food-taster? He had an individual just to pour his wine! If it had been a Persian custom, then might he not have adopted it when he took up other Persian ways?
The food-taster story is simply a great surprise! We see this character often in movies, and I think in the Bible (?), not a very systematic Christian here, but I think in the Book of Esther there is this food-taster for the Persian king. You can't walk in the rain without getting wet.... I agree that, being a Persian custom, and he being the shahanshah, the court uses would have to be followed. And being in that position he was, he ought to.
Anyway, I doubt that he really suspected anyone of attempting to poison him.
Weeell, I don't agree here. He was not respected by some people around him, and I mean those in the high places. See Cleitos, for example. He's one who really really thought that Alexander should not be where he was. He ended up with an apple against his skull and, a wee later, a weapon stuck on him for good. And there had been others, right?, attempting against A's life.
Alexander, ye onlie true and originale smart-alec, would have been careless and a fool if he just ignored the possibilities of attempts against his life, even if those real documented attempts never happened (and they did, yes?). Oh boy, they really really were in need of table-men!! :roll:

Alex was too smart to be careless. He and Hephaistion were envied, and even hated, but they survived enought time for the world history to aknowledge that Alexander & his company, boldly, traveled that path without nadir or zenith --- for, in a circle, there's neither high nor depth.
Come live forever with me, or transpire / a flame alone on a funeral pire / We'll build an empire if we so desire, travel the world, and set it on fire.

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Re: Hephaiston's death

Post by Polydeuces » Sun May 31, 2020 11:09 pm

I'll post something new to this now dated thread.

I think that serious consideration should be given to the possibility that not only that Hephaiston was poisoned, but that it was by the same agent and thereby presumably the same person(s) that killed Alexander. Has anyone read the theory that white hellebore matches the symptom's of at least Alexander's last days, not to mention Hephaiston's? See https://www.livescience.com/42596-alexa ... heory.html.

I cannot find the source of the quote, but some recent Alexander scholar has pointed out that among his bodyguards, companions and generals "few were sad to see him gone." Let's face it: Alexander had become dictatorial and arbitrary, dismissing if not executing satraps and others with whom he was not satisfied. And while the majority of the aforementioned leaders would have been quite happy to settle into the comfortable governance of provinces or other positions of importance, there is little doubt that Alexander's pothos was far from being satisfied: at least Arabia and probably points West were already on his radar screen.

Many comments have been logged previously on this thread that a "taster" would have presumably died as well had Hephaiston (or Alexander) been poisoned. True enough - but what if they imbibed versus ate the poison?

We tend to forget that Hephaiston had not ALWAYS been Alexander's closest friend and confidant: although a somatophylake almost from the beginning, his standing rose during the years of Alexander's reign: he became his second-in-command "chiliarch" and brother-in-law only months before his death - natural or otherwise. Yet his actual abilities in positions of command were debatable at best.

So who would have gained the most from his death was, let's face it, Eumenes. He had a long-standing and virulent grudge against the man, yet had extreme ambitions of his own. He was the first to display his apparent grief upon the former's death: hmmm, he "doth protest too much." As his later career provided, he was a man of extraordinary intellect and energy.

And who became chiliarch after Hephaison's death? Perdiccas. Another prime candidate. Hmm, interesting: when Hephaiston died, Perdiccas stepped into his shoes, and Eumenes moved into Perdiccas' vacated cavalry command...

Yes, the ancient sources concerning poison point to Antipater - after all, he had already been summoned to Babylon, and MIGHT have faced severe if not lethal judgement by Alexander. Or not. Despite his diminished capabilities based upon illness, injuries and alcohol abuse, Alexander was far from stupid: would he really have retained as his cup bearer (Iollas) a son of a father whom he intended to execute?

In any event, there were MANY potential candidates for a dual murder - we can hardly eliminate any of the aforementioned power brokers. And sadly, we shall almost certainly never know.

Food (or drink) for thought...

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Re: Hephaiston's death

Post by Alexias » Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:56 pm

Hi, and welcome.

The biggest arguments against Hephaestion having been poisoned are 1/ no one suspected poison at the time and 2/ he was recovering before he died. His symptoms are those of typhoid and he was recovering before he disobeyed his doctor's orders and ate a solid meal. Typhoid weakens the intestines and they can be perforated even without solid food putting stress on them. The problem though is that peritonitis caused by a perforated intestine can take hours to kill a patient (see Mary Renault on this), plenty of time for Alexander to get back from the theatre.

Maybe poison was slipped into Hephaestion's final meal, but no one seems to have suspected it, certainly not Alexander who executed the doctor for negligence and leaving his patient unattended, or perhaps giving him the wrong medicine.

It did once occur to me that maybe Alexander poisoned him because he felt that he had become too powerful and too much of a rival, but that is a fantasy which requires Alexander to have become an unhinged megalomaniac.

The theory that Antipater or his sons poisoned Alexander is a later anti-Antipater/Cassander piece of propaganda and no one seems to have held the belief at the time. Again, the argument that Alexander was poisoned can be refuted by the fact that no one seems to have been prepared for his death. There was probably a lot of frantic planning discussions behind the scenes, but the overwhelming impression when Alexander died was that no one knew what to do.

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Re: Hephaiston's death

Post by Jeanne Reames » Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:38 am

Basically what Alexias said. If it had been poison, or even the suspicion of it, given ATG's mental state at the time, he'd have turned out the hounds. He did kill the physician, but for malpractice (at least, IHO). Keep in mind that Alexander did have some medical training, but emotions were in control at that point.

In "The Mourning of Alexander" (https://www.academia.edu/2512448/The_Mo ... _the_Great) I talk at some length about Hephaisiton's death. We must beware of trying to diagnose it, as ancient texts conflated symptoms with moralizing (see Thomas Africa on this). I think typhoid is likely, if not certain. He didn't drink himself to death any more than Alexander did. And it wasn't poison.
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Re: Hephaiston's death

Post by Alexias » Sun Jul 05, 2020 9:11 pm

I wonder if Alexander executed the doctor because he gave Hephaestion an emetic, which might have had a catastrophic effect.

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