Who killed Alexander the Great? (Around June 10, BC 323) - History Key

Who killed Alexander the Great? (Around June 10, BC 323)

Around this day in ancient history, Alexander the Great, one of the first military strategists and leaders dies at the age of 32. At the time of his death his empire stretched from the edge of China to Egypt and Europe. No one was able to provide accurate information regarded to his death, but what is certain is that different opinions formed an entire conspiracy about it. According to some, Alexander the Great died because of malaria while other sustain that he was poisoned.

Map of the Kingdom of Macedon at the death of Philip II in 336 BC
Map of the Kingdom of Macedon at the death of Philip II in 336 BC © CC BY-SA 3.0/ Marsyas/ Image Source: Wikipedia

Poison or Malaria?

Alexander the Great had demonstrated his strength in many battles, especially during the twelve years campaign in Asia, when he had gone through many difficulties. One of it was when his lung was pierced by an arrow and he recovered in a short time. As a result, when Alexander becomes sick a few years later everyone thought that is just another challenge for him. But unfortunately things were different this time. His illness created confusion among his people. No one knew who supposed to join the throne.

 Alexander the Great mosaic
Alexander the Great mosaic © The Guardian/Image Source: Wikipedia

Probably it all started when the king was bathing when suddenly a Greek prisoner managed to escape from the guards and began to walk around the baths with a stray air. Seeing Alexander’s clothes, the prisoner took them and dressed himself and sits on the throne. The prisoner was executed and the event was interpreted that Alexander will lose his throne.

On May 30, after spending several hours for his daily religious rituals, Alexander and one of his comrades drank until the morning. The next day he did the same thing. On June 2, after the religious rituals he slept all day. It is said that he started to have a fever and back pain, but he associated the pain as a hangover. However, the fever didn’t disappear and as the days passed, Alexander the Great felt worse. It is said that he had malaria.

However, the other version of the story insinuates that Alexander was poisoned during those drinking night with his comrades. Being delusional, Alexander is moved to a pavilion near the swimming pool in his palace and by June 10, Alexander the Great died.

The Ring of the Kingdom

A large number of officers and comrades come to the palace to see Alexander Macedon. With his last forces, Alexander greeted all those present with a slight movement of his head and hand.

Death of Alexander the Great
Death of Alexander the Great © Walter Crane /Image Source: Wikipedia

Before closing his eyes for the last time, Alexander handed his ring to his Perdiccas, a general in the Great Army who fought in Alexander’s campaign against Persia. The gesture was interpreted in many different ways. For instance, it is believed that Alexander considered Perdiccas his right hand, while others sustain that the ring was destined for Craterus, another general and a Macedonian nobleman.

The Death of Alexander the Great after the painting by Karl von Piloty
The Death of Alexander the Great after the painting by Karl von Piloty © Image Source: Wikipedia

Ptolemy, who will take over Egypt, manages to carry Alexander’s body to Egypt where he makes him an imposing mausoleum. The place will be the source of inspiration and power for the famous rulers of the ancient world. For instance, Caesar visits the mausoleum in 48 BC and Augustus will put flowers to the tomb and a gold tiara on the head of the great conqueror.

Mid-nineteenth century reconstruction of Alexander's catafalque based on the description by Diodorus
Mid-nineteenth century reconstruction of Alexander’s catafalque based on the description by Diodorus © Image Source: Wikipedia

Unfortunately, the location of Alexander the Great’s tomb is an enduring mystery.

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