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Children of Alexander III the Great

'Confirmed' Children of Alexander


The first child of Alexander was Herakles, son of Alexander's mistress Barsine. Barsine was the widow of Memnon, the prominent Greek mercenary general serving under the Persian King Darius III. She was the daughter of the Persian satrap Artabazus. Barsine was captured by Parmenion in Damascus, in late 333 BC, shortly after the battle of Issus. Barsine had traveled with the Persian army from Babylon to the Mediterranean but went to Damascus before the battle.

According to Diodorus Herakles was 17 years of age when he died in 309 BC. This implies that Herakles was born in 326-327 BC during the Indian campaign. When Alexander died in 323 BC Herakles is reported to have lived in Pergamon, in western Asia Minor, together with his mother.

There is no further mention of him in the sources until he is summoned to Europe by Polyperchon in 309 BC, after the death of Alexander IV. (According to Justin Herakles and Barsine stayed in Pydna, Macedonia.) The army started to show some interest in Herakles, as he was the last remaining member of Alexander's Argead house. So Cassander persuaded Polyperchon to murder him. Herakles was apparently strangled after a banquet. Barsine was murdered too. Their bodies, according to Justin, were buried privately to conceal the plot.

Our source Justin raises some confusion about Herakles' age and date of birth by saying that he was 14 when he died, which should put his date of birth around 324 BC. Justin has probably mistaken Herakles' age with that of Alexander IV.

Alexander IV

Alexander's second child was Alexander IV, son of Alexander's first wife Roxane. Roxane was the daughter of Persian nobleman Oxyartes, a local ruler in Sogdiana who surrendered to Alexander during the siege of the Sogdian Rock. Alexander is said to have fallen in love with Roxane at first sight. The marriage was arranged in spring or August of 327 BC. The motives for the marriage, however, certainly had a political context too. Some references claim Roxane was only 12 at the time, but there is no evidence for that.

When Alexander died in June 323 BC Roxane was either six (Curtius) or eight (Justin) months pregnant. The newborn infant Alexander IV was recognized as king-to-be, formally sharing kingship with Alexander's halfbrother Arrhidaeus for the time being. Antipater, Alexander's regent in Macedonia, brought Alexander IV and his mother Roxane to Macedonia. After Antipater's death the new regent Polyperchon placed Olympias, Alexander's mother, in charge of Alexander IV.

In 316 BC Cassander took over power in Macedonia. Grandma Olympias was eliminated in 315 BC. Cassander put Roxane and Alexander IV under guard of his aide Glaucias, in Amphipolis, and removed all signs of Royal status from the child. Alexander IV and his mother were finally killed by Glaucias on orders of Cassander, probably in 310 BC. It is relevant to note that although Babylonian sources indeed mention Arrhidaeus as Alexander's Royal successor, they never refer to the infant kingship of Alexander IV.

'Other' Children of Alexander

Roxane's first child

The Metz Epitome, a late Antiquity source, mentions a first child of Alexander and Roxane, that is supposed to have been born at the Indus in 326 BC, and died soon after birth.

"There he found the ships which Porus and Taxiles had built, 800 biremes and 300 store-ships, and he put on board crews and provisions. In the meantime Alexander's son by Roxane died." (Metz Epitome, 70.)

Queen Cleophis' son

Alexander is said to have conceived a child with the Indian Queen Cleophis of Massaga, now in northern Pakistan. Our source for this is Justin. Cleophis is said to have achieved by sexual favours what she could not achieve by force of arms, and her son Alexander rose to sovereignity over the Indians. However: "Queen Cleophis was from that time called the 'royal whore' by the Indians." (Justin, 12.7.11.)

There are other tales of Alexander fathering children on Indian princesses. The Malay annals have him fathering a son on Shahru’l-Bariyah, daughter of Raja Kida Hindi. The son is left behind in India as Alexander has long since gone.

Queen Statira's child

Queen Statira, wife of Darius III, was captured by Alexander at Issus in 333 BC. She is said to have died in childbirth before the battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC. (Plutarch, 30.) The question is: when exactly? Arrian tries to convice his readers that Alexander never touched 'the most beautiful woman' in Asia. However, if Statira died later than spring 332 BC, there is a slight chance that she might have carried Alexander's child, not the child of Darius. We will never know.

'No' Children of Alexander

Princess Statira's pregnancy

Alexander married to princess Statira, daughter of Darius III and Queen Statira, in Susa in 324 BC. She had been captured at Issus, together with her mother and sister. Soon after Alexander's death in 323 BC Statira was murdered by Roxane and Perdiccas. Nothing in the sources suggests that Statira was pregnant at that time.

Thalestris, the Amazon Queen

Our classic sources seem to confirm - or suggest - that Alexander spent thirtheen nights with Thalestris, the Queen of the legendary female Amazon warriors. This is supposed to have happened around 330BC/329 BC, near the shores of the Caspian. Thalestris begged Alexander to conceive a child with her. It did not happen.

Grandchildren of Alexander

Alexander the Great had no grandchildren. The only two 'confirmed' children of Alexander, Herakles and Alexander IV, were murdered before adulthood.

Many thanks to Linda DeSantis, Susan Holmes, Jona Lendering.

Written by nick

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