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history meme | [2/7] relationships: alexander the great & hephaestion

Alexander the Great’s relationship with his army general Hephaestion was extraordinarily close; Hephaestion was described by Curtius as “by far the dearest of all the king’s friends.” They were both tutored by the philosopher Aristotle as boys, and it is believed that this is when they forged their friendship.

The morning after the battle of Issus, Alexander and Hephaestion visited the captured Persian royal family. According to Diodorus, ’The king took with him the most valued of his Friends, Hephaestion, and came to the women. They both were dressed alike, but Hephaestion was taller and more handsome. Sisyngambris took him for the king and did him obeisance. As the others present made signs to her and pointed to Alexander with their hands she was embarrassed by her mistake, but made a new start and did obeisance to Alexander. He, however, cut in and said, “You were not mistaken, Mother; this man too is Alexander.”

Their relationship is often compared to that of Achilles and Patroclus. At the beginning of Alexander’s campaign in Asia he led a contingent of his troops to Troy, where he and Hephaestion visited the tombs of Achilles and Patroclus. As described by Arrian, “Alexander encircled the tomb of Achilles with a garland; and it is said that Hephaestion decorated that of Patroclus in the same way." This event is usually seen as evidence for Alexander and Hephaestion’s romantic relationship as Achilles and Patroclus are often said to be lovers.

Hephaestion fell ill not long after entering the city of Ecbatana. Arrian says that Alexander had to be summoned from the games to Hephaestion, however when he arrived Hephaestion had already died. Plutarch tells that Alexander’s grief was "uncontrollable” and had to be forcibly dragged away from the corpse by his companions. One report says that he had the doctor executed for his lack of care.

Hephaestion’s funeral cost approximately £1,500,000,000, which was spent on a sixty metre high pyre and a festival involving funeral games and contests. Such was Alexander’s grief that, Diodorus writes, “he proclaimed to all the peoples of Asia that they should sedulously quench what the Persians call the sacred fire, until such time as the funeral should be ended. This was the custom of the Persians when their kings died, and people thought that the order was an ill omen, and that heaven was foretelling the king’s own death.”

i love how in stories about ancient times and ancient heros there’s always someone who says “you will be remembered for centuries, the glory of your name will never fade” because it’s true, we’re hearing about them right this moment, they lived thousands of years before us, yet we still idolise them and love their stories. it overwhelms me and fills with awe

Reading about Alexander the Great is so much more fun if you add ‘no homo’ to the end of his gayest exploits:

  • “yo, hephaestion, you know who was totally rad? achilles. i’m gonna constantly publicly compare myself to him, so you should totally do the same with his bud patroclus! i mean, some of the greatest minds of our time have written about how they were totally doin’ it, but no homo!”
  • “heey, hephaestion! ya know how we were talking about good ol’ achilles and his boy patroclus? well how 'bout we take a detour to troy to pay tribute at their tombs and then maybe we can oil each other up and run naked down a beach ha ha no homo!”
  • “the dorians? oh yeah, us macedonians are definitely related to the dorians. a lot of greeks credit the dorians with introducing man-on-man sex to greece, it was a behavior that was even expected of their ruling class … no homo.”
  • “hey, bagoas, nice dancing. you know what wouldn’t be gay? if we made out. right here. everyone wants it. come on, bro, no homo.”
  • “what’s that?” “oh nothing, hephaestion. just a letter from that delightful fellow we met living in a barrel, diogenes of sinope. it’s really nothing … here’s something about me 'yielding’ to your thighs … uh, no homo …”
  • “hey, hephaestion, let’s get married together! no homo!”
  • “yo, hephaestion, you know what totally wouldn’t be gay? if you died and i wept over your corpse for a day straight until i had to be dragged away and maybe i wouldn’t eat for a whole two days cause i was too busy sobbing and then i spent anywhere from 10,000 to 12,000 talents, which is like a billion dollars, on funerary shit and i could extinguish that sacred flame that’s only supposed to be extinguished upon the death of the great king but whatever i mean you too are alexander and i could try to get you deified and then maybe the grief caused by your death could contribute to my declining mental and physical health over the next eight months until i also died ha ha NO HOMO!”
Remains of Alexander the Great's Father Confirmed Found

A team of Greek researchers has confirmed that bones found in a two-chambered royal tomb at Vergina, a town some 100 miles away from Amphipolis mysterious burial mound, indeed belong to the Macedonian King Philip II, Alexander the Great’s father.

The anthropological investigation examined 350 bones and fragments found in two larnakes, or caskets, of the tomb. It uncovered pathologies, activity markers and trauma that helped identify the tomb’s occupants.

Along with the cremated remains of Philip II, the burial, commonly known as Tomb II, also contained the bones of a woman warrior, possibly the daughter of the Skythian King Athea, Theodore Antikas, head of the Art-Anthropological research team of the Vergina excavation, told Discovery News. Read more.

India, 326 BCE.  Macedonian War Council.

Alexander: So talk to me, commanders, how are we looking? 

Hephaistion: Sexy, but not like we’re trying too hard. Like, sure, we’re trying, but it’s almost effortless.