The Anabasis of Alexander/Book VII/Chapter XXIV

The Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian, translated by E. J. Chinnock
Book VII, Chapter XXIV. Another Omen of Alexander's Death


Another Omen of Alexander's Death.

But Alexander's own end was now near. Aristobulus says that the following occurrence was a prognostication of what was about to happen. He was distributing the army which came with Peucestas from Persia, and that which came with Philoxenus and Menander from the sea,[1] among the Macedonian lines, and becoming thirsty he retired from his seat and thus left the royal throne empty. On each side of the throne were couches with silver feet, upon which his personal Companions were sitting. A certain man of obscure condition (some say that he was even one of the men kept under guard without being in chains), seeing the throne and the couches empty, and the eunuchs standing round the throne (for the Companions also rose up from their seats with the king when he retired), walked through the line of eunuchs, ascended the throne, and sat down upon it.[2] According to a Persian law, they did not make hira rise from the throne; but rent their garments and beat their breasts and faces as if on account of a great evil.

When Alexander was informed of this, he ordered the man who had sat upon his throne to be put to the torture, with the view of discovering whether he had done this according to a plan concerted by a conspiracy. But the man confessed nothing, except that it came into his mind at the time to act thus. Even more for this reason the diviners explained that this occurrence boded no good to him. A few days after this, after offering to the gods the customary sacrifices for good success, and certain others also for,the purpose of divination, he was feasting with his friends, and was drinking far into the night.[3] He is also said to have distributed the sacrificial victims as well as a quantity of wine to the army throughout the companies and centuries. There are some who have recorded that he wished to retire after the drinking party to his bed-chamber; but Medius, at that time the most influential of the Companions, met him and begged him to join a party of revellers at his residence, saying that the revel would be a pleasant one.

  1. I.e. the Mediterranean.
  2. Diodorus (xvii. 116) and Plutarch (Alex., 73) say that he was a bound prisoner. The latter says his name was Dionysius, and that he was a Messenian.
  3. Plutarch (Alex., 75) and Justin (xii. 13) say that he gave a banquet to Nearchus the admiral, and that, as he was leaving it, he was invited to the revel by Medius the Thessalian. Cf. Diodorus, xvii. 117.