Alexander the Great Megas Alexandros; July 20 356 BC - June 10 323 BC), also known as Alexander III, was an ancient Greek king (basileus) of Macedon (336-323 BC).
He was one of the most successful military commanders in history, and was undefeated in battle.
By the time of his death, he had conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks.
Following the unification of the multiple city-states of ancient Greece under the rule of his father, Philip II of Macedon (a labour Alexander had to repeat because the southern Greeks rebelled after Philip's death), Alexander conquered the Achaemenid Persian Empire, including Anatolia, Syria, Phoenicia, Judea, Gaza, Egypt, Bactria, and Mesopotamia, and extended the boundaries of his own empire as far as Punjab, India.
Prior to his death, Alexander had already made plans for military and mercantile expansions into the Arabian peninsula, after which he was to turn his armies to the west (Carthage, Rome, and the Iberian Peninsula). His original vision had been to the east, though, to the ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea, as described by his boyhood tutor Aristotle.
Alexander integrated many foreigners into his army, leading some scholars to credit him with a "policy of fusion." He also encouraged marriages between his soldiers and foreigners; he himself went on to marry two foreign princesses.
Alexander died after twelve years of constant military campaigning, possibly as a result of malaria, poisoning, typhoid fever, viral encephalitis or the consequences of alcoholism.
His legacy and conquests lived on long after him, and ushered in centuries of Greek settlement and cultural influence over distant areas. This period is known as the Hellenistic Age, and featured a combination of Greek, Middle Eastern and Indian culture.
Alexander himself was featured prominently in the history and myth of both Greek and non-Greek cultures. His exploits inspired a literary tradition in which he appeared as a legendary hero in the tradition of Achilles.
Alexander the Great Biography
Born in Pella, capital of Macedon, Alexander was the son of King Philip II of Macedon and of his fourth wife Olympias, an Epirote princess. On his mother's side, he was a second cousin of Pyrrhus of Epirus, who himself would go on to become a celebrated general; thus, there are notable examples of military genius on both sides of his family. According to Plutarch, his father was descended from Heracles through Karanus of Macedon and his mother descended from Aeacus through Neoptolemus and Achilles. Plutarch relates that both Philip and Olympias dreamt of their son's future birth. In Philip's dream, he sealed her womb with the seal of the lion. Alarmed by this, he consulted the seer Aristander of Telmessos, who determined that his wife was pregnant and that the child would have the character of a lion. Another odd coincidence is that the temple of Artemis in Ephesus was set afire on the night of his birth. Plutarch's explanation is that the Gods were too busy watching over Alexander to care for the temple. According to five historians of antiquity (Arrian, Curtius, Diodorus, Justin, and Plutarch), after his visit to the Oracle of Ammon at Siwa, rumors spread that the Oracle had revealed Alexander's father to be Zeus, rather than Philip. In support of this, Plutarch (Alexander 3.1,3) claims that Philip avoided Olympias' bed because of her affinity for sleeping in the company of snakes. In his early years, Alexander was raised by his nurse Lanike, who was Cleitus' older sister. Later, Alexander was educated by a strict teacher: Leonidas, himself a relative of Olympias. Leonidas' frugal ways are known to us through the extant record: reportedly, when Alexander threw a large amount of sacrificial incense into a fire, Leonidas reprimanded him, telling him that he could waste as much incense as he wished once he had conquered the spice bearing regions. Years later, following Alexander's conquest of Gaza, a city directly on the Persian spice trade route, the young king sent back over 15 tons of myrrh to Leonidas as a retort. It was Aristotle, though, who was Alexander's most famous and important tutor. The famous philosopher trained Alexander in rhetoric and literature, and stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy. His gift to Alexander, a copy of the Iliad, was purportedly among the young king's most prized possessions--and was kept under his pillow, along with a dagger. When Alexander was ten years old, a Thessalian brought a horse of such quality to sell to Philip that it was labeled a prodigy. As it turned out, though, the horse was so wild that no man could mount him. Young Alexander, recognizing that the horse's own shadow was the source of its fear, went to the steed and turned him towards the sun. Upon doing so, the horse calmed down, and the young king easily mounted and rode him. His father and other people who saw this were very impressed; Philip kissed him with tears of joy and said "My son, seek thee out a kingdom equal to thyself; Macedon has not room for thee." This horse was named Bucephalus, meaning "ox-headed"--though there is the possibility that the name refers to the brand that denoted the horse's origin. Bucephalus would be Alexander's companion throughout his journeys, and was truly loved: when the horse died (due to old age, according to Plutarch, for he was already 30; other sources claim that Bucephalus died of wounds sustained in a battle in India), Alexander named a city after him called Bocephia or Bucephala.
In 340 BCE, Philip led an attack on Byzantium, leaving Alexander, now aged 16, to act as regent of Macedon. Shortly after, in 339 BC, Philip took a fifth wife, Cleopatra Eurydice. While Alexander's mother Olympias was from Epirus, Cleopatra Eurydice was a true Macedonian; this led to political machinations over whether Alexander was the best heir for the Agead throne. During the wedding feast, Attalus, the uncle of the bride, supposedly gave a toast for the marriage to result in a legitimate heir to the throne of Macedon. Phillip drew his sword and moved towards Alexander, but fell in a drunken stupor over the drinking couches. Alexander then famously remarked: "Here is the man planning on conquering from Greece to Asia, and he cannot even move from one table to another." Following this episode, Alexander and his mother left Macedon; his sister (also named Cleopatra) remained. Eventually Philip and Alexander would reconcile; the son returned home, but Olympias remained in Epirus. In 338 BC Alexander fought under his father at the decisive Battle of Chaeronea against the city-states of Athens and Thebes. Phillip entrusted Alexander with the left wing of his army, which entailed facing the Sacred Band of Thebes, an elite hoplite corps hitherto regarded as invincible. Though few details of the battle survive to us, what is known is that Alexander annihilated this corps. After the battle, Philip led a wild celebration; Alexander is notably absent from the accounts describing it. It is speculated that Alexander personally treated Demades, a notable orator of Athens, who had opposed Athenian alignment against Philip. He went on to draw up and present a peace plan, which the assembled Athenian army voted on and approved. Philip was content to deprive Thebes of its dominion over Boeotia and leave a Macedonian garrison in the citadel. A few months later, the League of Corinth was formed, and Phillip was acclaimed Hegemon of the Hellenes.
In 336 BC Philip was assassinated at the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra to her uncle King Alexander of Epirus. Theories abound regarding the motives behind the killing, but a common story presented the assassin as a disgraced former lover of the king--the young nobleman Pausanias of Orestis. He held a grudge against Philip because the king had ignored his grievances regarding an outrage on his person. Some believed that Philip's murder was planned with the knowledge and involvement of Alexander, Olympias, or both. Still other theories pointed to Darius III, the recently crowned King of Persia. Regardless, after Philip's death, the army proclaimed Alexander, then aged 20, as the new king of Macedon.
Greek cities like Athens and Thebes, which had been forced to pledge allegiance to Philip, saw in the relatively untested new king an opportunity to regain full independence. Alexander moved swiftly and Thebes, which had been most active against him, submitted when he appeared at its gates. The assembled Greeks at the Isthmus of Corinth, with the exception of the Spartans, elected him to the command against Persia, which had previously been bestowed upon his father. The next year (335 BC), Alexander felt free to engage the Thracians and the Illyrians in order to secure the Danube as the northern boundary of the Macedonian kingdom. While he was triumphantly campaigning north, the Thebans and Athenians rebelled once again. Alexander reacted immediately and while the other cities once again hesitated, Thebes decided this time to resist with the utmost vigor. The resistance was useless; in the end, the city was conquered with great bloodshed. Thebes was razed to the ground and its territory divided between the other Boeotian cities. Moreover, the Thebans themselves were sold into slavery; Alexander spared only the priests, the leaders of the pro-Macedonian party, and the descendants of Pindar, whose house was the only one left standing. The end of Thebes cowed Athens into submission. According to Plutarch, a special Athenian embassy led by Phocion, an opponent of the anti-Macedonian faction, was able to persuade Alexander to give up his demand for the exile of leaders of the anti-Macedonian party, most particularly Demosthenes.
Alexander's army crossed the Hellespont with approximately 42,000 soldiers from Macedon, various Greek city-states, and mercenaries and tribute soldiers from Thrace, Paionia, and Illyria. After an initial victory against Persian forces at the Battle of the Granicus, Alexander accepted the surrender of the Persian provincial capital and treasury of Sardis and proceeded down the Ionian coast. At Halicarnassus, Alexander successfully waged the first of many sieges, eventually forcing his opponents, the mercenary captain Memnon of Rhodes and the Persian satrap of Caria, Orontobates, to withdraw by sea. Alexander left Caria in the hands of Ada, who was ruler of Caria before being deposed by her brother Pixodarus. From Halicarnassus, Alexander proceeded into mountainous Lycia and the Pamphylian plain, asserting control over all coastal cities and denying them to his enemy. From Pamphylia onward, the coast held no major ports and so Alexander moved inland. At Termessos, Alexander humbled but did not storm the Pisidian city. At the ancient Phrygian capital of Gordium, Alexander "undid" the hitherto unsolvable Gordian Knot, a feat said to await the future "king of Asia." According to the most vivid story, Alexander proclaimed that it did not matter how the knot was undone, and he hacked it apart with his sword. Another version claims that he did not use the sword, but simply realized that the simplest way to undo the knot was to simply remove a central peg from the chariot--around which the knot was tied.
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Alexander's army crossed the Cilician Gates, met and defeated the main Persian army under the command of Darius III at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC. Darius was forced to flee the battle after his army broke, and in doing so left behind his wife, his two daughters, his mother Sisygambis, and a fabulous amount of treasure. He afterwards offered a peace treaty to Alexander, the concession of the lands he had already conquered, and a ransom of 10,000 talents for his family. Alexander replied that since he was now king of Asia, it was he alone who decided territorial divisions. Proceeding down the Mediterranean coast, he took Tyre and Gaza after famous sieges (see Siege of Tyre). In 332 BC Alexander attempted to lead his army into Nubia. He was confronted with the brilliant military formation devised by their warrior queen, Candace of MeroŽ. She led her army in the opposition from on top of an elephant. Daunted by the prospect of defeat while engaging with her opposing army, he concluded it would be best to withdraw his forces and he chose to enter Egypt instead. During 332-331 BC, Alexander was welcomed as a liberator in Persian-occupied Egypt and was pronounced the son of Zeus by Egyptian priests of the deity Amun at the Oracle of Siwa Oasis in the Libyan desert. Henceforth, Alexander often referred to Zeus-Ammon as his true father, and subsequent currency depicted him, adorned with ram horns as a symbol of his divinity. He founded Alexandria in Egypt, which would become the prosperous capital of the Ptolemaic dynasty after his death. Leaving Egypt, Alexander marched eastward into Assyria (now northern Iraq) and defeated Darius once more at the Battle of Gaugamela. Once again, Darius was forced to leave the field, and Alexander chased him as far as Arbela. While Darius fled over the mountains to Ecbatana (modern Hamedan), Alexander marched to Babylon.
From Babylon, Alexander went to Susa, one of the Achaemenid capitals, and captured its legendary treasury. Sending the bulk of his army to the Persian capital of Persepolis via the Royal Road, Alexander stormed and captured the Persian Gates (in the modern Zagros Mountains), then sprinted for Persepolis before its treasury could be looted. It was here that Alexander was said to have stared at the crumbled statue of Xerxes and decided to leave it on the ground--a symbolic gesture of vengeance. During their stay at the capital, a fire broke out in the eastern palace of Xerxes and spread to the rest of the city. Theories abound as to whether this was the result of a drunken accident, or a deliberate act of revenge for the burning of the Acropolis of Athens during the Second Persian War. The Book of Arda Wiraz, a Zoroastrian work composed in the 3rd or 4th century AD, also speaks of archives containing "all the Avesta and Zand, written upon prepared cow-skins, and with gold ink" that were destroyed; but it must be said that this statement is often treated by scholars with a certain measure of skepticism, because it is generally thought that for many centuries the Avesta was transmitted mainly orally by the Magi. Alexander then set off in pursuit of Darius anew. The Persian king was no longer in control of his destiny, having been taken prisoner by Bessus, his Bactrian satrap and kinsman. As Alexander approached, Bessus had his men murder the Great King and then declared himself Darius' successor as Artaxerxes V before retreating into Central Asia to launch a guerrilla campaign against Alexander. With the death of Darius, Alexander declared the war of vengeance over, and released his Greek and other allies from service in the League campaign (although he allowed those that wished to re-enlist as mercenaries in his army). His three-year campaign, first against Bessus and then against Spitamenes, the satrap of Sogdiana, took Alexander through Media, Parthia, Aria (West Afghanistan), Drangiana, Arachosia (South and Central Afghanistan), Bactria (North and Central Afghanistan), and Scythia. In the process of doing so, he captured and refounded Herat and Maracanda. Moreover, he founded a series of new cities, all called Alexandria, including modern Kandahar in Afghanistan, and Alexandria Eschate ("The Furthest") in modern Tajikistan. In the end, both of his opponents were defeated after having been betrayed by their men--Bessus in 329 BC, and Spitamenes the year after.
During this time, Alexander adopted some elements of Persian dress and customs at his court, notably the custom of proskynesis, a symbolic kissing of the hand that Persians paid to their social superiors, but a practice that the Greeks disapproved. The Greeks regarded the gesture as the province of deities and believed that Alexander meant to deify himself by requiring it. This cost him much in the sympathies of many of his countrymen. Here, too, a plot against his life was revealed, and one of his officers, Philotas, was executed for failing to bring the plot to his attention. The death of the son necessitated the death of the father, and thus Parmenion, who had been charged with guarding the treasury at Ecbatana, was assassinated by command of Alexander, so he might not make attempts at vengeance. Most infamously, Alexander personally slew the man who had saved his life at Granicus, Cleitus the Black, during a drunken argument at Maracanda. Later in the Central Asian campaign, a second plot against his life was revealed, this one instigated by his own royal pages. His official historian, Callisthenes of Olynthus (who had fallen out of favor with the king by leading the opposition to his attempt to introduce proskynesis), was implicated in the plot; there has never been a consensus as to his actual involvement in the conspiracy.
After the death of Spitamenes and his marriage to Roxana (Roshanak in Bactrian) to cement his relations with his new Central Asian satrapies, in 326 BC Alexander was finally free to turn his attention to the Indian subcontinent. Alexander invited all the chieftains of the former satrapy of Gandhara, in the north of what is now Pakistan, to come to him and submit to his authority. Ambhi (Greek: Omphis), ruler of Taxila, whose kingdom extended from the Indus to the Jhelum (Greek:Hydaspes), complied. But the chieftains of some hilly clans including the, Aspasioi and Assakenoi sections of the Kambojas (classical names), known in Indian texts as Ashvayanas and Ashvakayanas (names referring to the equestrian nature of their society from the Sanskrit root word Ashva meaning horse), refused to submit. Alexander personally took command of the shield-bearing guards, foot-companions, archers, Agrianians and horse-javelin-men and led them against the Kamboja clans the Aspasioi of Kunar/Alishang valleys, the Guraeans of the Guraeus (Panjkora) valley, and the Assakenoi of the Swat and Buner valleys. The example of Cleophis assuming the supreme command of the military also brought the entire women of the locality into the fighting. Alexander could only reduce Massaga by resorting to political strategem and actions of betrayal. According to Curtius: "Not only did Alexander slaughter the entire population of Massaga, but also did he reduce its buildings to rubbles." A similar manslaughter then followed at Ora, another stronghold of the Assakenoi.
In the aftermath of general slaughter and arson committed by Alexander at Massaga and Ora, numerous Assakenians people fled to a high fortress called Aornos. Alexander followed them close behind their heels and captured the strategic hill-fort but only after the fourth day of a bloody fight. The story of Massaga was repeated at Aornos and a similar carnage on the tribal-people followed here too. Writing on Alexander's campaign against the Assakenoi, Victor Hanson comments: "After promising the surrounded Assacenis their lives upon capitulation, he executed all their soldiers who had surrendered. Their strongholds at Ora and Aornus were also similarly stormed. Sisikottos, who had helped Alexander in this campaign, was made the governor of Aornos. After reducing Aornos, Alexander crossed the Indus and fought and is believed to have won an epic battle against a local ruler Porus (original Indian name Raja Puru), who ruled a region in the Punjab, in the Battle of Hydaspes in 326 BC.
After the battle, Alexander was greatly impressed by Porus for his bravery in battle, and therefore made an alliance with him and appointed him as satrap of his own kingdom, even adding some land he did not own before. Alexander then named one of the two new cities that he founded, Bucephala, in honor of the horse who had brought him to India, who had died during the Battle of Hydaspes. Alexander continued on to conquer all the headwaters of the Indus River. East of Porus' kingdom, near the Ganges River (original Indian name Ganga), was the powerful empire of Magadha ruled by the Nanda dynasty. Fearing the prospects of facing another powerful Indian army and exhausted by years of campaigning, his army mutinied at the Hyphasis River (the modern Beas River) refusing to march further east. This river thus marks the easternmost extent of Alexander's conquests: As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India. For having had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the width of which, as they learned, was thirty-two furlongs, its depth a hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with multitudes of men-at-arms and horsemen and elephants. For they were told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and six thousand fighting elephants.
Alexander, after the meeting with his officer Coenus, was convinced that it was better to return. Alexander was forced to turn south. Along the way his army ran into the Malli clans (in modern day Multan). The Malli were the most warlike clans in South Asia during that period. Alexander's army challenged the Malli, and the ensuing battle led them to the Malli citadel. During the assault, Alexander himself was wounded seriously by a Mallian arrow. His forces, believing their king dead, took the citadel and unleashed their fury on the Malli who had taken refuge within it,perpetrating a massacre,sparing neither man,woman nor child. Following this, the surviving Malli surrendered to Alexander's forces, and his beleaguered army moved on. e sent much of his army to Carmania (modern southern Iran) with his general Craterus, and commissioned a fleet to explore the Persian Gulf shore under his admiral Nearchus, while he led the rest of his forces back to Persia by the southern route through the Gedrosian Desert (now part of southern Iran and Makran now part of Pakistan). Alexander left forces in India however. In the territory of the Indus, he nominated his officer Peithon as a satrap, a position he would hold for the next ten years until 316 BC, and in the Punjab he left Eudemus in charge of the army, at the side of the satrap Porus and Taxiles. Eudemus became ruler of a part of the Punjab after their death. Both rulers returned to the West in 316 BC with their armies. In 321 BCE, Chandragupta Maurya founded the Maurya Empire in India and overthrew the Greek satraps.
Discovering that many of his satraps and military governors had misbehaved in his absence, Alexander executed a number of them as examples on his way to Susa. As a gesture of thanks, he paid off the debts of his soldiers, and announced that he would send those over-aged and disabled veterans back to Macedonia under Craterus, but his troops misunderstood his intention and mutinied at the town of Opis, refusing to be sent away and bitterly criticizing his adoption of Persian customs and dress and the introduction of Persian officers and soldiers into Macedonian units. Alexander executed the ringleaders of the mutiny, but forgave the rank and file. In an attempt to craft a lasting harmony between his Macedonian and Persian subjects, he held a mass marriage of his senior officers to Persian and other noblewomen at Susa, but few of those marriages seem to have lasted much beyond a year. His attempts to merge Persian culture with his Greek soldiers also included training a regiment of Persian boys in the ways of Macedonians. Most historians believe that Alexander adopted the Persian royal title of Shahanshah (meaning: "The King of Kings"). It is claimed that Alexander wanted to overrun or integrate the Arabian peninsula, but this theory is widely disputed. It was assumed that Alexander would turn westwards and attack Carthage and Italy, had he conquered Arabia. After traveling to Ecbatana to retrieve the bulk of the Persian treasure, his closest friend and possibly lover Hephaestion died of an illness, or possibly of poisoning. Alexander mourned by Hephaestion's side for six months.
On the afternoon of June 10-11, 323 BC, Alexander died in the palace of Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon. He was just one month short of attaining 33 years of age. Various theories have been proposed for the cause of his death which include poisoning by the sons of Antipater or others, sickness that followed a drinking party, or a relapse of the malaria he had contracted in 336 BC. It is known that on May 29, Alexander participated in a banquet organized by his friend Medius of Larissa. After some heavy drinking, immediately before or after a bath, he was forced into bed due to severe illness. The rumors of his illness circulated with the troops causing them to be more and more anxious. On June 9, the generals decided to let the soldiers see their king alive one last time. They were admitted to his presence one at a time. Because the king was too ill to speak, he confined himself to moving his hand. The day after, Alexander was dead.
The poisoning theory derives from the story held in antiquity by Justin and Curtius. The original story stated that Cassander, son of Antipater, viceroy of Greece, brought the poison to Alexander in Babylon in a mule's hoof, and that Alexander's royal cupbearer, Iollas, brother of Cassander, administered it. Many had powerful motivations for seeing Alexander gone, and were none the worse for it after his death. Deadly agents that could have killed Alexander in one or more doses include hellebore and strychnine. In R. Lane Fox's opinion, the strongest argument against the poison theory is the fact that twelve days had passed between the start of his illness and his death and in the ancient world, such long-acting poisons were probably not available.
The warrior culture of Macedon favoured the sword over strychnine, and many ancient historians, like Plutarch and Arrian, maintained that Alexander was not poisoned, but died of natural causes. Instead, it is likely that Alexander died of malaria or typhoid fever, which were rampant in ancient Babylon. Other illnesses could have also been the culprit, including acute pancreatitis or the West Nile virus. Recently, theories have been advanced stating that Alexander may have died from the treatment not the disease. Hellebore, believed to have been widely used as a medicine at the time but deadly in large doses, may have been overused by the impatient king to speed his recovery, with deadly results. Disease-related theories often cite the fact that Alexander's health had fallen to dangerously low levels after years of heavy drinking and suffering several appalling wounds (including one in India that nearly claimed his life), and that it was only a matter of time before one sickness or another finally killed him. No story is conclusive. Alexander's death has been reinterpreted many times over the centuries, and each generation offers a new take on it. What is certain is that Alexander died of a high fever on June 10 or 11 of 323 BC.
On his death bed, his marshals asked him to whom he bequeathed his kingdom. Since Alexander had no obvious and legitimate heir (his son Alexander IV would be born after his death, and his other son was by a concubine, not a wife), it was a question of vital importance. There is some debate to what Alexander replied. Some believe that Alexander said, "Kratisto" (that is, "To the strongest!") or "Krat'eroi" (to the stronger). Alexander may have said, "Krater'oi" (to Craterus). This is possible because the Greek pronunciation of "the stronger" and "Craterus" differ only by the position of the accented syllable. Most scholars believe that if Alexander did intend to choose one of his generals, his obvious choice would have been Craterus because he was the commander of the largest part of the army (infantry), because he had proven himself to be an excellent strategist, and because he displayed traits of the "ideal" Macedonian. But Craterus was not around, and the others may have chosen to hear "Krat'eroi" the stronger. Regardless of his reply, Craterus does not appear to have pressed the issue. The empire then split amongst his successors (the Diadochi). Alexander's death has been surrounded by as much controversy as many of the events of his life. Before long, accusations of foul play were being thrown about by his generals at one another, making it incredibly hard for a modern historian to sort out the propaganda and the half-truths from the actual events. No contemporary source can be fully trusted because of the incredible level of self-serving recording, and as a result what truly happened to Alexander the Great may never be known. Most theories that he died from syphilis have been discredited.
Alexander's body was placed in a gold anthropoid sarcophagus, which was in turn placed in a second gold casket and covered with a purple robe. Alexander's coffin was placed, together with his armour, in a gold carriage that had a vaulted roof supported by an Ionic peristyle. The decoration of the carriage was very lavish and is described in great detail by Diodoros.
The Roman emperor Caligula was said to have looted the tomb, stealing Alexander's breastplate, and wearing it. Around 200 AD, Emperor Septimius Severus closed Alexander's tomb to the public. His son and successor, Caracalla, was a great admirer of Alexander, and visited the tomb in his own reign. After this, details on the fate of the tomb are sketchy. The so-called "Alexander Sarcophagus," discovered near Sidon and now in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, is now generally thought to be that of Abdylonymus, whom Hephaestion had appointed as the king of Sidon by Alexander's order. The sarcophagus depicts Alexander and his companions hunting and in battle with the Persians.
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