This is a repost from an older entry on my In the Footsteps of Alexander blog, but it explains the reason for this new blog and its attendant facebook page. Enjoy, and by all means, share your thoughts.
In her book The Nature of Alexander, Mary Renault calls Hephaestion the most underrated man in history.
I fully agree with this statement. I have always felt one of the secrets to Alexander’s success was Hephaestion. From what I have read of Alexander, the one thing that kept his more wild tendencies in check was Hephaestion. When Alexander succumbed to his darker side or to one of his faults, Hephaestion reminded Alexander of who he was. He was, in a sense, Alexander’s moral compass. Everything that was good in Alexander rested in Hephaestion.
I think the best example of this can be seen in Alexander’s behavior following the death of Hephaestion. He did not eat. He did not sleep. He did not campaign. He executed Hephaestion’s doctor in a horribly cruel manner. Though he did, after a time, leave his tent, begin planning for future campaigns, and ordered full honors for his fallen comrade, it seems as though he was walking dead, a man going through the motions, a ship without it’s compass. And perhaps the best example of all, within 8 alcohol-hazed months, the seemingly invincible Alexander, who was covered with battle scars and had survived near-fatal illnesses, was dead himself. The body seems to have finally followed the soul.
This is my hypothesis anyway. I am currently undertaking the research to prove it. I hope to find the sources support this, and it is not just my extreme fondess for Hephaestion that colors my opinion. If you are interested in the findings, please comment below and watch this space.
June 5th, 2022 at 12:16 am
I totally agree with you. Hephaestion was Alexander’s anchor. None of his other generals could keep up with him or reel him in when he spun out of control. I think a lot of Alexander’s bad behavior happened while Hephaestion was away on missions, as he often was.