The Anabasis of Alexander/Book VII/Chapter XXVI


Alexander's Death.

Such is the account given in the Royal Diary. In addition to this, it states that the soldiers were very desirous of seeing him; Some, in order to see him once more while still alive; others, because there was a report that he was already dead, imagined that his death was being concealed by the confidential body-guards, as I for my part suppose. Most of them through grief and affection for their king forced their way in to see him. It is said that when his soldiers passed by him he was unable to speak; yet he greeted each of them with his right hand, raising his head with difficulty and making a sign with his eyes. The Royal Diary also says that Peithon, Attains, Demophon, and Peucestas, as well as Cleomenes, Menidas, and Seleucus, slept in the temple of Serapis,[1] and asked the god whether it would be better and more desirable for Alexander to be carried into his temple, in order as a suppliant to be cured by him. A voice issued from the god saying that he was not to be carried into the temple, but that it would be better for him to remain where he was. This answer was reported by the Companions; and soon after Alexander died, as if forsooth this were now the better thing. Neither Aristobulus nor Ptolemy has given an account differing much from the preceding. Some authors, however, have related that his Companions asked him to whom he left his kingdom; and that he replied: " To the best."[2] Others say, that in addition to this remark, he told them that he saw there would be a great funeral contest held in his honour.[3]

  1. Serapis, or more correctly Sarapis, was an Egyptian deity, whose worship was introduced into Greece in the time of the Ptolemies. His worship was introduced into Borne, with that of Isis, in the time of Sulla. Strabo (xvii. 1) gives an account of his cultus in the celebrated temple at Canobus. The Serapeum at Alexandria, which contained the famous library, is described by Ammianus, xxii 16.
  2. I.e. the most valiant.
  3. To decide who was to succeed to his power. Cf. Curtius, x. 14; Diodorus, xvii. 117; Justin, xii. 15.