CODEX Entry 5110: Alexander the Great
As with much of history, leaders blessed with chance and excellent generals are buried under accolades. Alexander’s astonishing victories over 3 years between 334BC – 331BC are well documented. Although less publicized was the state of near civil war in his adversary the Persian Empire. At critical moments in the battles themselves, key Persian generals, either for bribes or revenge, either did not engage the enemy, or even turned against Darius III on the battlefield. As Alexander’s life was based on drafts written by Callisthenes on campaign, and reviewed and aggrandized by Alexander himself, it is of little surprise the extent to which his achievements and abilities are trumpeted.
Less is written about Alexander’s decline. During these three years of campaigning, Alexander’s banquets developed a reputation for spiralling into drunken orgiastic mayhem, and often went on for days. In 330 BC, for example, a drunken Alexander’s gave permission for the priestesses to burn down Persopolis. Alexander continued his descent into alcoholism, murdering four of his most trusted Generals Philota, Parmenio, and Clietus in quick succession. This was followed even by Callisthenes, his one time tutor and chronicler, who died in prison. Alexander’s paranoia, love triangles with his homosexual lovers, and endless drinking destroyed in six short years his legitimacy and indeed his life.
On his deathbed, Alexander the Great wished to be buried at the Temple of Zeus Ammon in the Siwa Oasis of ancient Libya instead of the royal tombs of Aigai in Macedon¹. After the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Ptolemy retrieved his body as it was en route to be buried in Macedon.
¹ Lauren O’Connor, The Remains of Alexander the Great