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On Diodorus, Book 16, Chapter 116.

1004 words - 4 pages

An account of an omen of the death of Alexander; Diodorus does not give his source in the text, but by comparing the story with that of other authors it may be possible to determine from whom the story came, and by the differing motives of the author and source, for what reason the story came to be.
Later in the same chapter there is a possible explanation of the episode, as one of the Companions, a Thessalian by the name of Medius, immediately after a second portent of Alexander’s fate takes him for a drinking session during which Alexander is struck ill and, according to Diodorus, dies shortly after. Justin supports the involvement of Medius but, going further than Diodorus accuses some of Alexander’s closest Companions of conspiring to kill him; Antipater, his sons Cassander, Phillipus and Iollas and Medius himself, who was the host.
Of course to be killed by the host was, and still is, considered one of the most heinous crimes, therefore this story may have been added simply for the purpose of drama.
Arrian too repeats the manner of Alexander’s death, citing the Royal Diary as his source regarding Medius inviting him to drink, Arrian also, as Diodorus did, names Antipater and his sons (but also Aristotle) as suspected murderers and accomplices , but assures the reader that he only records them to show he is aware of them, though he did not consider the murder plot to be trustworthy.
It is important to keep in mind though, that one of the easiest ways to dismiss the truth to the suspicious is to state it plainly, and then claim to not believe it on the grounds of probability. Such is the stuff of conspiracy theories; interesting possibilities.
Though what is more important than his death is that it was sudden and that for a long time after, what was once his empire became the battleground for a series of bloody dynastic struggles, with a vast amount of vested interest in the portrayal of not only how each of the players stood in relation to Alexander, but also if they had any part to play in Alexander’s death.
Due to its completeness and the trust in which he places his sources , Aristoboulus and Ptolemy, Arrian is considered the most trustworthy source available, though baring in mind that the others are either incomplete or fantastical; notice the distinct difference between Diodorus’s account of the slave in purple;
“one of the natives who was kept in bonds was spontaneously freed of his fetters,”
With Arrian’s;
“A certain man of obscure condition (some say that he was even once of the men kept under guard without being in chains”
The tone is far less superstitious in Arrian, and the story, coming from Aristoboulus, could not be wrote off, as perhaps Ptolemy could,6 of being keen to make Alexander’s death appear the will of the gods, which would go far to confirm the legitimacy of not only Ptolemy but the other Diadochi as well.
Plutarch, writing a far more romantic and mythical perspective on Alexander, even adds that...

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