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The death of Alexander #4 - Justin

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2021 8:54 pm
by Alexias
Justin 'Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus' Translated by J C Yardley ©1997
Book 12

13 …(2) So far had the terror of his name pervaded the whole world that all nations were ready to fawn upon him as though he were destined to be their king. (3) For this reason he was making all haste to Babylonia to preside over what seemed to be a world-wide assembly. Then one of his Magi forewarned him against entering the city of Babylon, declaring the place was destined to be fatal for him. (4) Alexander therefore passed by Babylon and withdrew across the Euphrates to the long-deserted city of Borsipa. (5) There he was prevailed upon by the philosopher Anaxarchus to disregard the predictions of the Magi as false and unreliable;… (6) He therefore turned back towards Babylon, where he gave the army several day's rest; and during this time he resumed his old practice, now long discontinued, of the ceremonial banquet. (7) Abandoning himself completely to revelry, he spent a day and a night without sleep. As he was leaving the dinner, the Thessalian Medius decided to renew the festivities and invited Alexander and his companions to join him. (8) Alexander took a cup, but had not yet drunk more than half of it when he suddenly uttered a groan as if he had been pierced by a spear (9) and was carried semi-conscious from the banquet. He was racked with such agony that he asked for a sword to put an end to it, and the pain on being touched was like that of a wound. (11) His friends put it about that the cause of his illness was excessive drinking, but in fact it was a conspiracy, though the scandal was supressed by the power of the successors.

14 (1) The instigator of the conspiracy was Antipater. He could see that his closest friends had been put to death by Alexander; that his son-in-law, Alexander the Lyncestian, had been killed by him; (2) that his own great achievements in Greece had earned him the king's envy rather than appreciation; (3) and that he had also been the object of various accusations made by Alexander's mother, Olympias. (4) Then there were the cruel executions, a few days before, of the governors of the conquered nations. (5) On the basis of all this Antipater thought he had been summoned from Macedonia not to join the campaign but to face punishment. (6) So, to anticipate the king's move, he suborned his own son, Cassander, who, along with his brothers Philip and Iollas, used to wait upon the king. He gave Cassander a poison, (7) the virulence of which was such… it could only be transported in a horse's hoof. He forewarned his son to trust no one but his brothers and the Thessalian. ….(9) Philip and Iollas, who used to taste and add water to the king's drinks, put the poison in cold water and added this to his cup after they have performed the tasting.

15 (1) After three days Alexander felt that his death was certain and he declared that he could recognise the fate that had overtaken the house of his forefathers, for most of the Aeacids were dead by their thirtieth year. (2) Then the soldiers became restless, suspecting that their king was dying because of treachery, but Alexander himself placated them. He had himself carried to the highest spot in the city, where he let them all come to see him and, as they wept, held out his hand for them to kiss. (3) They were all in tears, but Alexander, so far from weeping, gave not the slightest indication of being in low spirits - he actually comforted some who could not control their grief and gave others messages for their parents. (4) He was as undaunted in the face of death as he had been in the face of the enemy. (5) When the men were dismissed, he asked his friends at his bedside if they thought they would find a king like him again. (6) All were silent; then Alexander himself added that … he could predict … how much blood Macedonia would shed in this struggle, how much slaughter and gore she would sacrifice to his ghost. (7) Finally he gave instruction that his body be buried in the temple of Hammon. (8) When his friends saw that he was sinking, they asked him whom he appointed as heir to his throne, to which he replied 'the most deserving man'. (9) Such was his greatness of spirit that although he was leaving a son, Heracles, a brother, Arridaeus, and a wife, Roxane, who was pregnant, he gave no thought to family ties and named as his heir the most deserving man. (10) He implied it was wrong for a brave man to be replaced by anyone but a brave man, or for the power of a great kingdom to be left to any but those of proven worth. … (12) On the sixth day Alexander's voice failed. He removed his ring and handed it to Perdiccas, a gesture which quelled the growing dissention amongst his friends. …

16 (1) Alexander died in the month of June at the age of 33. He was a man endowed with superhuman greatness of spirit. …(10) and he inspired such confidence in his men that, if he were present, they would fear the army of no enemy, even if they themselves were unarmed. …(12) In the end he was brought down not by the valour of an enemy, but by a plot hatched by his own men and the treachery of his fellow countrymen.