In the year 324 BC, Alexander, on the way to Babylon, came to his traditional summer retreat of Ecbatana. There, he held a massive festival in honor of Dionysus in which it is believed up to 3,000 Greek performers were brought to provide entertainment. Night after night, lavish drinking parties ensued in which Alexander and Hephaestion, (his supposed alter ego) undoubtedly participated in. It was during this time of extravagant celebration that Hephaestion became ill and contracted a high fever. Hephaestion's physician Glaucias put him on a strict diet and monitored his health. At first, this appeared to be working until on the seventh day of Hephaestion's illness, Glaucias went to the theater and Hephaestion decided to ignore the physician's advice. Hephaestion proceeded to eat a whole chicken and drank a half-gallon of chilled wine at breakfast. He died shortly thereafter. When Alexander was told of Hephaestion's illness, he rushed to be with him but Hephaestion had already passed away.
Alexander was now devastated by this loss. Arrian states that "for two days after Hephaestion's death, Alexander tasted no food and took no care of his body..." (7.14.8). It is widely believed that Alexander had Glaucias executed, blaming him for Hephaestion's sudden demise. Alexander was also believed to have razed the temple of Asclepius, the god of healing. Alexander's grief at Hephaestion's death had no limits (Plutarch, 72.3). Plutarch writes: "Moreover, making war a solace for his grief, he went forth to hunt and track down men, as it were, and overwhelmed the nation of the Cossaeans, slaughtering them all from the youth upwards. This was called an offering to the shade of Hephaestion (72.4).
An enormous sum of at least ten thousand talents was spent on Hephaestion's funeral. It is said that the king cut his hair for Hephaestion as a homage to Achilles, (as Achilles had done so for his companion Patroclus). Hephaestion, being Commander of the Companion Cavalry, had his post retired, as no man was ever officially appointed to take his place.. Alexander, then sent envoys to the Siwah, to the oracle of Ammon, to inquire if Hephaestion should be worshipped as a god. The oracle refused permission but allowed the sacrifice appropriate to a hero to be offered to Hephaestion. Arrian says .".the death of Hephaestion had proved a great misfortune to Alexander himself, and Alexander, I believe, would have preferred to have gone first himself rather than experience it during his lifetime" (7.16.8).
Both Arrian and Plutarch site the Royal Journal as their trusted source on the days leading to Alexander's death. On May 29, 323 BC, while holding a banquet for his admiral Nearchus, he was approached by his trusted friend Medius who invited him to a late party. There, they engaged in heavy drinking. On the 30th, he dined with Medius and drank heavily once more. Feeling that a bit feverish, he slept in the bathing house that night to cool...