birthday/deathday

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spitamenes
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birthday/deathday

Post by spitamenes »

Well its almost that time of year for the anniversary of Alexanders death. And soon after will be his birthday. So id like to bring up the possible miscalculations or even deliberate misrepresentations of Alexanders birthday and;or deathday. I think we have the deathday pretty much pegged. Our sources have an almost word for word account of the final days of Alexander. I can accept this as fact. But the birthday is different. I've heard may, june, july, october, and I'm sure there's more. Did his birthday coincide with the burning of the temple at Ephesis? Or was that a deliberate misrepresentation by our beloved spin doctors to make his birth more significant?
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Re: birthday/deathday

Post by bessusww »

I always assumed and read that June 10th was the day Alexander died...But I once remember watching a programe on Alexander...I cant quite recall which one...But a peice of Banylonian clay with inscriptions writes of Alexander and the time of his death and Scholars from the Babylonian palm Clay tablet say he died on June 11th.

I'm sure Marcus will have seen this programe and know the Item i'm refering to...I was pretty convinced it was June the 10th but maybe not
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Re: birthday/deathday

Post by Taphoi »

spitamenes wrote:Well its almost that time of year for the anniversary of Alexanders death. And soon after will be his birthday. So id like to bring up the possible miscalculations or even deliberate misrepresentations of Alexanders birthday and;or deathday. I think we have the deathday pretty much pegged. Our sources have an almost word for word account of the final days of Alexander. I can accept this as fact. But the birthday is different. I've heard may, june, july, october, and I'm sure there's more. Did his birthday coincide with the burning of the temple at Ephesis? Or was that a deliberate misrepresentation by our beloved spin doctors to make his birth more significant?
Hi Spitamenes,

I think that the only significant source on the date of Alexander's birth is Plutarch's Life of Alexander (Chapter 3), which gives 6th Hecatombaeon in 356BC (and also states that the temple burnt down on the same day). Hecatombaeon is the first month of the Athenian calendar. This was a Lunisolar calendar, in which the months began with the New Moon and the year began at the first New Moon after the Summer Solstice. We can calculate the dates of New Moons in the Julian Calendar, so it is easy to show that 6th Hecatombaeon in 356BC happened on 20th July in the Julian Calendar (or just possibly 19th July).

We have fairly definite dates for Alexander's birth and death and for his greatest battle. The great lost date of Alexander's life is his accession, which was also of course the date of Philip's assassination. You will find guesstimates ranging between about May and November of 336BC in the literature. It may in fact be this uncertainty that you are recalling. Your question is in fact timely, since I am currently in the process of putting forward a specific date for Alexander's accession in the latest phase of my reconstruction of the history of Alexander's reign by Cleitarchus (Alexander the Great in Afghanistan), where the evidence for the date emerges from the reconstruction.

The date is the Autumnal Equinox in 336BC, which means that Alexander reigned for 12 years 8 months and 14 days in the Julian calendar (the first time, I believe, that it has been possible to state the duration exactly since antiquity.)

Best wishes,

Andrew
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Re: birthday/deathday

Post by marcus »

Taphoi wrote:I think that the only significant source on the date of Alexander's birth is Plutarch's Life of Alexander (Chapter 3), which gives 6th Hecatombaeon in 356BC (and also states that the temple burnt down on the same day). Hecatombaeon is the first month of the Athenian calendar. This was a Lunisolar calendar, in which the months began with the New Moon and the year began at the first New Moon after the Summer Solstice. We can calculate the dates of New Moons in the Julian Calendar, so it is easy to show that 6th Hecatombaeon in 356BC happened on 20th July in the Julian Calendar (or just possibly 19th July).
And certainly, when a specific date is given, one tends to give certain credence to it.

Although, of course, one shouldn't take it at absolute face value. After all, if the date of the destruction of the Ephesian temple is definite, then someone could 're-position' Alexander's birthday to fit it.

Alternatively, it might well be that the two events *did* occur on the same day. After all, my uncle was born on the day that Germany invaded the USSR in 1941 (OK, so my uncle hasn't conquered more than half the known world, but he does have a successful business in Somerset ... anyway, you get my point!).

I should refer Pothosians also to Pothos' own (short) article.

ATB
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Re: birthday/deathday

Post by spitamenes »

I feel somewhat the same, Marcus, I see no reason why we should believe there was a misrepresentation of his birthdate. It being on the same day as the temple burning is just as plausable as any other date, and according to a certain greek writer, seemed probable. Was the temple dedicated to Athena? I remember hearing about someone writing that the reason the temple burnt was because the godess was in Macedonia overwatching Alexanders birth, and therefore could not protect her temple. :D a joke flat enough to put out the flames of the fire itself...
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Re: birthday/deathday

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spitamenes wrote:I feel somewhat the same, Marcus, I see no reason why we should believe there was a misrepresentation of his birthdate. It being on the same day as the temple burning is just as plausable as any other date, and according to a certain greek writer, seemed probable. Was the temple dedicated to Athena? I remember hearing about someone writing that the reason the temple burnt was because the godess was in Macedonia overwatching Alexanders birth, and therefore could not protect her temple. :D a joke flat enough to put out the flames of the fire itself...
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Re: birthday/deathday

Post by spitamenes »

Wow I was way off. Oh well. Not the first time, won't be the last either. Thanks Marcus.
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Re: birthday/deathday

Post by marcus »

spitamenes wrote:Wow I was way off. Oh well. Not the first time, won't be the last either. Thanks Marcus.
Well, not way off - there are only five goddesses amongst the Twelve Olympians, and I doubt you would have thought it was Hera or Demeter - which leaves Athena, Artemis and Aphrodite (the 3 As!). So you had a one in three chance of getting it right! :D

Alternatively, you could just say it was a typo ... :lol:

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Re: birthday/deathday

Post by artemisia »

Marcus, there are 6 goddesses, you forgot Hestia = Vesta
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Re: birthday/deathday

Post by artemisia »

Taphoi wrote: The date is the Autumnal Equinox in 336BC, which means that Alexander reigned for 12 years 8 months and 14 days in the Julian calendar (the first time, I believe, that it has been possible to state the duration exactly since antiquity.)
Andrew
you are surely right about the offical accession date, because it's 1st of Dios, the month of Zeus and beginning of the makedonian calendar.

Do you see a possibility to match 26 October somewhere in Alexanders timetable, because on that date in Thessaloniki they commemorate the "Saint Demetrius", whom I believe the Christians put in the place of Alexander's worship as patron of the city?
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Re: birthday/deathday

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artemisia wrote:Marcus, there are 6 goddesses, you forgot Hestia = Vesta
Hmm, by my reckoning, Hestia can't be included if Demeter is, and vice versa - that's an interesting point to raise.

The male Olympians are: Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Apollo, Hephaestus, Ares, Hermes.

Which is seven, leaving room for five goddesses: Hera, Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite ... and one more. I have just discovered two lists, one of which says Demeter, and the other says Hestia. So I don't disagree with you, but am now puzzled as to which we list we should be following.

Anyway, doesn't particularly matter ... :D

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Re: birthday/deathday

Post by Taphoi »

artemisia wrote:you are surely right about the offical accession date, because it's 1st of Dios, the month of Zeus and beginning of the makedonian calendar.

Do you see a possibility to match 26 October somewhere in Alexanders timetable, because on that date in Thessaloniki they commemorate the "Saint Demetrius", whom I believe the Christians put in the place of Alexander's worship as patron of the city?
Hi Artemisia,

There are some uncertainties concerning the Macedonian calendar in Alexander's time, but the evidence (mainly from continued Seleucid use of the same calendar) suggests that it was similar to the Athenian calendar, except that, as you indicate, the year was instigated by the Autumnal Equinox instead of the Summer Solstice. I think that means that 1st Dios would be the first New Moon after the Autumnal Equinox rather than the Equinox itself. Hence there simply is no fixed date for 1st Dios in the Julian (or Gregorian) calendar, since the Macedonian date will move backwards and forwards over a range of about a Lunar month from year to year. The Equinoxes are roughly fixed in the Gregorian calendar, but they gradually drift in the Julian calendar by 3 days in every 4 centuries. These two calendars were arranged to coincide at around AD300. The result of all this is that it is very unlikely that a modern Gregorian date, even if it is derived from an older Julian date, will actually match any event in the Athenian or Macedonian calendars in any accurate way.

The Autumnal Equinox in 336BC occurred roughly on 27th September in the Julian calendar (i.e. roughly 22nd September in the Gregorian calendar). The argument whereby I get the Autumnal Equinox is independent of the result that it is the Equinox, but the result tends to corroborate the date. Since the Macedonian year was instigated by the Autumnal Equinox, it is a particularly likely day for a Macedonian festival of the gods. We know from Diodorus that Philip's assassination took place at such a festival. Diodorus 16.92.5 even writes that the festival parade began at sunrise, which might in retrospect be a hint of the solar significance of the day.

Best wishes,

Andrew
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Re: birthday/deathday

Post by amyntoros »

marcus wrote:
artemisia wrote:Marcus, there are 6 goddesses, you forgot Hestia = Vesta
Hmm, by my reckoning, Hestia can't be included if Demeter is, and vice versa - that's an interesting point to raise.

The male Olympians are: Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Apollo, Hephaestus, Ares, Hermes.

Which is seven, leaving room for five goddesses: Hera, Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite ... and one more. I have just discovered two lists, one of which says Demeter, and the other says Hestia. So I don't disagree with you, but am now puzzled as to which we list we should be following.

Anyway, doesn't particularly matter ... :D

ATB
It may not matter to US, but I'm guessing it did to the ancients. :lol: Anyway, yes, Hestia was sometimes included in the Olympians although I'm not sure who she replaced. And Hades wasn't included in the twelve (he didn't live on Olympia), but Dionysos. There were plenty of other lesser "Olympian" gods also - Theoi.com is the place to go for info. Kind of like Pothos for the Greek gods only without a forum.

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Re: birthday/deathday

Post by artemisia »

amyntoros wrote: It may not matter to US, but I'm guessing it did to the ancients. :lol: Anyway, yes, Hestia was sometimes included in the Olympians although I'm not sure who she replaced. And Hades wasn't included in the twelve (he didn't live on Olympia), but Dionysos. There were plenty of other lesser "Olympian" gods also - Theoi.com is the place to go for info. Kind of like Pothos for the Greek gods only without a forum.

Best regards,
My dear Pothosians, the gods live on mount Olympus, not in Olympia. Hestia, the oldest sister of Zeus, was always one of the twelve, and Dionysos is the 13th god. Hades belongs to the underworld and doesn't reside on Olympos as well as his wife Persephone. Hestia is a very important goddess represented by every fireplace in every house (as the orthodox christians have their little iconostasis at their home) with a never extinguishing flame.
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Re: birthday/deathday

Post by amyntoros »

artemisia wrote:
My dear Pothosians, the gods live on mount Olympus, not in Olympia. Hestia, the oldest sister of Zeus, was always one of the twelve, and Dionysos is the 13th god. Hades belongs to the underworld and doesn't reside on Olympos as well as his wife Persephone. Hestia is a very important goddess represented by every fireplace in every house (as the orthodox christians have their little iconostasis at their home) with a never extinguishing flame.
My mistake, and just a typo because it was a hurried post - I really do know the difference between Olympos and Olympia! :)

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