The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 5

We continue the reign of Alexander the Great.  Eutychius believes that Cassander poisoned him.  It is interesting that the evil reputation of Cassander (not named here) persisted after 13 centuries.

16. Alexander won many victories, and among the Greeks, thirteen kings obeyed him.  He founded thirteen cities, some in the west and others in the east.  He waged so many wars and gained so many victories that no king was greater than him.  He founded a city and called it by his name, Alexandria.  He then moved the government from the city of Makidūniya to the city of Alexandria.  He raised the lighthouse of Alexandria and made it a guide for all those who sailed by sea to lead them to the route that went to Alexandria.  After the king had conquered and obtained the empire of the world, he went to Bābil where he was poisoned and died.  This is because Alūmafidā[1], his mother, had written a letter in which she complained about his lieutenant, who commanded Makidūniyah, and as Alexander was angry at him, he had thought of killing him.  But getting wind of this, he sent his son to Alexander with many gifts and presents and with deadly poison, advising him to conduct himself with every kind of gentle wisdom in order to poison Alexander.  The young man came to Alexander, bearing all the gifts he had with him.  He came across, among others, the cupbearer of Alexander, with whom the latter had previously clashed and beaten up.  So, nourishing a great grudge against Alexander, the cupbearer assisted the young man in his intentions. Then one of Alexander’s followers joined them, in their conspiracy.  Now it happened that Alexander gave a banquet to his friends, where everyone ate and drank. Alexander was sitting with his followers and his close friends, cheerful and happy among the diners.  When he asked for a drink, the cupbearer poured the poison into the king’s cup and handed it to him.  Drinking it, the king immediately knew that he would die, and he called a scribe and dictated a letter to his mother in these terms:

“From the servant of God, Alexander, conqueror and lord of the land of the earth yesterday and today his pledge,[2] to his affectionate and merciful mother Alūmafīdā whose nearness he is unable to enjoy. Sincere and great peace to you.  The road that I am now travelling, O my mother, is the same as those have travelled who have fallen asleep before me, and that you and those who survive me will travel.  In this world we are just like the day that chases away the day that came before it.  Do not regret this world for the fact that it deceives its creatures.  You have an example of what you know about King Philip who could not stay with you nor survive.  Arm yourself, then, with sound endurance and remove your anguish and look for solitude.  Order that none should come to you unless they have not seen misfortune, so that you may know better what it is and know better about your condition and you can better care for your own. What I go to is a better and more restful condition than the one in which I lived.  Do good by me and accept this in resignation and endurance so that sorrow does not overcome you.  This letter I send to you on the last day of this life and on the first of the other, with the hope that it will console you and be a source of blessing to  you.  Do not disappoint me and do not sadden my spirit. Peace to you”.

He then commanded his seal put to the letter and for it to be sent secretly to his mother.  He then ordered his minister Fīlīmūn to keep his death secret and to go immediately to Alexandria.  Then he died.  It is said that when Alexander came to Qūmus, he became seriously ill and that his illness grew worse and worse every day.  His mother had told him that a diviner had predicted, when he was born, that he would die in a place whose sky was golden and whose earth was iron.  As ill as he was, Alexander came to Shahrazūr. His illness had become more acute during the journey. Then he stopped, and they put under him two boards with a coating of iron, and he sat down, while a man gave him shade with a shield inlaid with gold.  On seeing this, Alexander remembered the words of his mother, called his minister, dictated a letter to his mother and died.  When his mother received the letter, she ordered a banquet, inviting people to join.  However, she placed custodians at the door, with the order that nobody should enter except those who had not been hit by some misfortune.  The gatekeepers therefore questioned those who came and if they were struck by a disaster they would not let him in.  By doing so they excluded everyone and there was no one who could take part in the banquet.  On seeing this, [Alūmafīdā] accepted her fate in good faith, became strong and was convinced that this was the common fate of the mortals. The minister Fīlīmūn laid the body of Alexander in a golden coffin as an honour. In another text it is said: “He filled it with honey and kept the death secret.” He then led the soldiers to Alexandria, carrying behind the coffin of the [king], and as soon as the death of Alexander was made public in front of the people,  he showed them the coffin and placed it in the centre of the court.  Then the minister Filīmūn ordered the wise men to keep up a funeral elegy, which was a comfort for the friends of the followers, and an education for all the people.

 

 

  1. [1]I.e. Olympias.
  2. [2]I really didn’t understand this: “Dal servo di Dio, Alessandro, conquistatore e signore dei paesi della terra ieri ed oggi suo pegno“.

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