The Anabasis of Alexander/Book VII/Chapter XXV


Alexander Seized with Fever.

The Royal Diary gives the following account,[1] to the effect that he revelled and drank at the dwelling of Medius; then rose up, took a bath, and slept; then again supped at the house of Medius and again drank till far into the night. After retiring from the drinking party he took a bath; after which he took a little food and slept there, because he already felt feverish. He was carried out upon a couch to the sacrifices, in order that he might offer them according to his daily custom. After performing the sacred rites he lay down in the banqueting hall until dusk. In the meantime he gave instructions to the officers about the expedition and voyage, ordering those who were going on foot to be ready on the fourth day, and those who were going to sail with him to be ready to sail on the fifth day. From this place he was carried upon the couch to the river, where he embarked in a boat and sailed across the river to the park. There he again took a bath and went to rest.

On the following day he took another bath and offered the customary sacrifices. He then entered a tester bed, lay down, and chatted with Medius. He also ordered his officers to meet him at daybreak. Having done this he ate a little supper and was again conveyed into the tester bed. . The fever now raged the whole night without intermission. The next day he took a bath; after which he offered sacrifice, and gave orders to Nearchus and the other officers that the voyage should begin on the third day. The next day he bathed again and offered the prescribed sacrifices. After performing the sacred rites, he did not yet cease to suffer from the fever. Notwithstanding this, he summoned the officers and gave them instructions to have all things ready for the starting of the fleet. In the evening he took a bath, after which he was very ill. The next day he was transferred to the house near the swimming-bath, where he offered the prescribed sacrifices. Though he was now very dangerously ill, he summoned the most responsible of his officers and gave them fresh instructions about the voyage. On the following day he was with difficulty carried out to the sacrifices, which he offered; and none the less gave other orders to the officers about the voyage. The next day, though he was now very ill, he offered the prescribed sacrifices. He now gave orders that the generals should remain in attendance in the hall,[2] and that the colonels and captains should remain before the gates. But being now altogether in a dangerous state, he was conveyed from the park into the palace. When his officers entered the room, he knew them indeed, but could no longer utter a word, being speechless. During the ensuing night and day and the next night and day he was in a very high fever.

  1. We learn from Athenaeus (x. p. 434 B) that this Court Journal was kept by the royal secretary, Eumenes, afterwards so famous, and by the historian, Diodotus of Erythrae. As to the last days of Alexander, cf. Plutarch (Alex., 76, 77).
  2. Cf. Curtius, ix. 23: Mos erat principibus amicorum et oustodibus corporis exoubare ante praetorium, quotiens adversa regi valetudo incidisset.