In all of my years of schooling, from kindergarten until my fourth year of college, I have never had an in-depth lesson on Alexander the Great. When he came up in lecture this week as an important detail of the Ptolomaic Period, I knew I wanted to take the opportunity to educate myself a bit more. There are two parts of his story that interest me most: how he was welcomed by the Egyptians as he conquered their land and the mystery of his death.
During fall of 332 B.C., Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. It marked the start of the Ptolomaic period, which was the Greek period in Egyptian history. Neither the Egyptians nor the Persians resisted his rule. There was even a festival in celebration of his arrival, thrown in Greek style by the Egyptians. He had freed them from Persian rule, and his actions were greatly appreciated. He was also honored because he was believed to be the son of Amun Re, an extremely important god in Egyptian theology. Amun Re was known as the sun god as well as the, “God of Kings and King of Gods,” (MCA). Although he was only present in Egypt for about six months, he left a lasting impression. He pushed into action many reforms and connected the Egyptians with Greek society. The next time he was in Egypt was after his own death, in which his body was transported by carriage to be buried.
To this day, the question about Alexander’s cause of death of remains unanswered. Some researchers suggest that the possibility of poison or an infection, as well as other causes. Recently, West Nile Virus has been suggested. After two weeks of suffering from a raging fever, whatever had been bothering him was enough to kill him, and he passed away on June 7th, 323 B.C. at just 32 years of age. His illness was so quick and unexpected that he did not even get the chance to appoint his successor to rule over the Macedonian Empire.
Eternal Egypt (2005). Alexander the Great in Egypt. Retrieved from: http://www.eternalegypt.org/EternalEgyptWebsiteWeb/HomeServlet?ee_website_action_key=action.display.module&story_id=&language_id=1&module_id=330&text=text
Historyofmacedonia.org (2001). Alexander the Great: Alexander of Macedonia Biography. Retrieved from: http://www.historyofmacedonia.org/AncientMacedonia/AlexandertheGreat.html
Marr, John S., Calisher, Charles, H. (December, 2003) Retrieved from: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/9/12/03-0288_article.htm
MCA Egypt (2007). Amun Ra. Retrieved from: http://www.mcaegypt.org/amunra.html